Why don't we just stipulate that Robert Mann disapproves of Castro, Chavez, Evo, Correa, Lugo, Dilma, Mujica and others and join in in combating the dangers of the biotech industry?

Richard Levins

>>> Robert Mann <[log in to unmask]> 7/13/2011 4:09 PM >>>
Dick Levins wrote (pleasingly not mentioning Castro, Chavez, or other poli):

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.

        And how!
        UC 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:
                Many plant 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 transfer.



Richard Levins

>>> Robert Mann <[log in to unmask]> 7/12/2011 11:23 PM >>>

Published online 10 July 2011 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2011.407
          All eyes on the potato genome
Cracking of tricky genetic code may offer clues to fighting blight.

Chloe McIvor