Die Monsanto, die.

"Grain" by peter pearson via Flickr

"Grain" by peter pearson via Flickr

I am a scientific layman when it comes to GMO, Genes, and Bacteria, but it seems like some of you folks think that bacteria are somehow a magic method for DNA to pass between species. While Horizontal Gene Transfer happens all the time, in fact it’s one of the major causes of “super-bug” resistant strains of bacteria, so far it appears that gene transfer between plant and animal are very rare even in cases where the two have had millions of years to evolve together. Even secondary transfer of genes from plant #1 via animal to plant #2 are very rare in nature. Rare in a bacterial biomass that far outweighs that of plants and animals, and this is your general, all purpose heading of gene transfer also. It could be entirely benign (DNA/RNA cruft as it were) which is often the case, or it could be harmful or beneficial. This is overshadowed by the shifting perception in the biological sciences of the role such HGTs have played in evolution, and that “ordinary” HGT happens with amazing frequency between different bacteria.
What is clear to me is that Monsanto is a large corporation in one of the most contentious industries in the world. (some of the others being water providers/rights-holders, oil/mining companies, and of course pharmaceutical) They also operate under the Corporate structure, which puts making money for the shareholders above anything else, including the health and safety of the public. If it costs less to pay the possible government fines, legal fees, and settlements than to do things properly, they have a responsibility to follow the course of action that makes the most money. And if they don’t get caught, or are able to make the repayment process take so long that most people drop out, well that’s more money for the shareholders.  Many aspects of the system are broken.

Also in the forefront of my mind is that the work to optimize the entirety of agriculture must continue, as it has since we first started planting seeds. All avenues, including the scientific, must be explored, and there must be open research and testing, which unfortunately doesn’t fit with the closed corporate secret system. Many aspects of the system are broken.

It will take more time, research, and legal wrangling before the system gets better, and the rhetoric, torches, pitchforks, and misinformation are the rule of the day. Personally I’d love to see them crack open the Monsanto research and post the whole thing on the web for peer review.

NOTE: X-Posted reply from a FetLife thread

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