Dick Levins wrote (pleasingly not mentioning Castro, Chavez, or
Put not your trust in miracle genomes.
The potato (in hundreds of local varieties) has survived partly
because of its heterogeneity. Phytophthora is even now licking
its chops waiting for new miracle genomes to be released. Nor
will conventional PR suffice to get them adopted. Specific genes
can be helpful, but we will still need to manage the potato community
of beneficial and harmful species.
Davis plant gene-jockey Patrick Brown wrote a very good brief critique
of the "technology" a decade ago, early in the 'modern'
period: http://www.psrast.org/promplantbiot.htm . Prof Brown
makes an excellent point, widely ignored:
species have the capacity to produce toxic compounds which under
natural conditions serve to protect against animal and insect
predation as well as contributing to disease resistance mechanisms.
In certain species, such as those in the Solanum family, there are
many well characterized and highly unpalatable or toxic compounds.
It is very likely that the majority of the genes involved in the
formation of these toxic and unpalatable compounds are still present
(though not expressed) in modern tomato and potato. Given the
random nature of rDNA gene insertion, and the use of a promiscuous
viral promoter sequence, the potential clearly exists that tomato
could be induced to produce a toxin as a result of a rDNA gene
>>> Robert Mann <[log in to unmask]> 7/12/2011 11:23 PM
Published online 10 July 2011 | Nature |
All eyes on the potato genome
Cracking of tricky genetic code may offer clues to fighting