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Monday, March 29, 2010

Genetically Modified

The short term benefits for China could be enormous. Most of the country’s rice is grown on small farms, and these local farmers are exposed to a variety of pesticides to maintain their crops. Bt rice will drastically reduce the amount of needed pesticides and may relieve the need to flood fields. (Flooding is partially used to reduce the prevalence of parasites.) Phytase corn will not only allow livestock to more easily receive needed nutrients from feed, it will eliminate some of the phosphorus waste present in pig and cow manure. Again, it’s hard to argue with increased food supplies and decreased environmental impact.
Yet there are many who do find the use of GM crops troublesome. Many Europeans question the safety of foodstuffs that have only been around for a few years. Most of the plants that we eat have been “tested” by thousands of years of cultivation and consumption. As these crops are designed to be more successful, they can quickly come to dominate and replace the natural versions in the wild. Once enough countries go GM, they say, the rest of the world will become GM through the natural dispersion of seeds.
Others point out that GM crops are the intellectual property of the developers, which have almost exclusively been large chemical corporations. Farmers are (generally) not allowed to plant their own left over seeds from GM crops, but instead must purchase seed from the developer. This is seen as an enforcement of the patent rights of the company, but there is concern over most of the world’s seed supply being under the control of a few business institutions.

Genetically Modified Flowers That Can Smell Like Anything

Clark and his colleagues are first looking to restore the “lost” fragrances of many flowers that have been breed for other characteristics in the last century. Eventually, however, the same genes that could return a flower to its ancestral scent could also be used to create entirely artificial smells. Flowers can be made to smell like other species, other foods, maybe even inorganic compounds.



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