It seems that plant biologists just cant take the misinformation about genetics any longer. First we had the moving and informative video from the Rothamsted Research Group and now an elqouent article from two professors from Swedish agricultural university. You can read their story here: ”Populistisk miljörörelse demoniserar gentekniken” – DN.SE.
Is the tide turning in Europe? Are consumers now able to more easily access knowledge-based information on genetically engineered crops? Can we finally move on from from talking about how the seed was made and instead focus on what really matters? How can we create a sustainable farming system that enhances soil fertility, reduces toxic inputs, conserves land and water and assures local food security for the poor and malnourished? We need all appropriate technology.
Here is a Google translation of the article:
Populist environmental motion demonizes genetic engineering “Published 2012-06-02 12:50S
In 40 years, there will be nine billion people on earth. In order to produce food to these people, we must use the latest genetic engineering. The environmental movement’s aggressive opposition to this is completely incomprehensible to us plant scientist, writes Jens Sundström and Sten Stymne for Agricultural Sciences.For 50 years ago, the world’s population much faster than food production, and recurrent famines claimed many lives of millions. Scientists painted a doomsday scenario for all humanity. This disaster did not materialize due to the increase in productivity in agriculture known as the Green Revolution.It was the result of a strong public investment in agricultural research. The sharp rise in production in agriculture, however, had a prize for the environment and even if the most dangerous pesticides is now banned in most countries, agriculture remains a major environmental impact.
In 40 years, the Earth’s population will be 9 billion. The challenge we face is to feed this population in a good and sustainable way at nearly the same field area as we have today. We must simultaneously replace fossil oil with bio-materials and bio-energy. So we need to once again significantly increase crop yields while reducing the environmental impact of agriculture. Is it not obvious then that we must use science-art advances and all the techniques we have to cope with this?
The technology to introduce genes that confer desirable properties directly in the plants instead of just being referred to the junctions is an essential part in carrying out these big global challenges. Unfortunately, we see that this obvious fact aggressively opposed by many non-profit environmental organizations. We plant scientists who are passionate about environmental questions are will find this incomprehensible. We would like to give some examples of environmentalism’s strange behavior in the genetic engineering issue.
Researchers have developed a blight-resistant potatoes, Fortuna, by transferring two genes from a wild potato relatives of our cultivated potato. To control late blight in potatoes account for 20 percent of all combat against pathogenic fungi in Swedish agriculture despite the fact that potatoes are grown on only 3 percent of the agricultural area.Despite the significant direct environmental benefits as protest Greenpeace against the potatoes. The argument of the above is that the genes can be transferred by means of traditional breeding. The truth is that after over 40 years of plant breeding, it is just a resistance gene has been successfully transferred from a wild potato relative of the cultivated potato. The variety called Toluca and is terrible in all other agronomic traits than just the partial blight resistance (see picture). Traditional processing of potatoes is an extremely slow process because the qualities you want in the potato tuber has to be fixed by cloning, but this has been deliberately concealed by Greenpeace.
The organization also conducted a campaign against genetically modified potato Amflora with altered starch quality and blocked a storehouse for seed in the north. One argument was that you can refine the same type of starch potatoes by means of conventional mutation breeding. It is possible, but it takes several decades to produce an acceptable variety. Another argument was that the potato contains a marker gene that makes it resistant to the antibiotic kanamycin.On its website, Greenpeace says quite rightly that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are a major problem in health care and that kanamycin can be used (as a last ditch effort) in the treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria. The conclusion to be drawn from their data is that the kanamycin resistance genes in plants contributes to the pathogenic bacteria resistant to antibiotics.Careful investigations have shown that these genes when they are in the plants do not have a thing with the emergence of antibiotic resistance in bacteria that do. But Greenpeace utilizes the legitimate fears of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to scare the public on plant biotechnology.
The same debate trick uses SSNC chairman Mikael Karlsson off. At a debate at the Royal Academy of Sciences, he mentioned several times that one could not rely on the authority of the EU which reviews the safety of GM crops (EFSA) as it does not react to the existence of bisphenol in baby bottles.The intention was that the public would associate with that also GM crops threaten the health of our children and that the authorities turn a blind eye. This, instead of talking about the real risks he sees with GM crops. More than 130 independent research groups have spent 2 billion from the EU in risk research on GM crops and the conclusion is that genetic modification per se do not pose risks (‘A decade of EU-funded GMO Reserach’).
This risk research waving but Mikael Karlsson away by referring to the scientific community is not united on the issue. But it’s not a single issue on which the scientific community is united, not even the veracity of evolutionary theory. The question is what conclusions that stand in the review using accepted scientific criteria.Greenpeace administers a website called “Hey When the GM” and is a battlefield of lies and disinformation about genetic modification. Although the Nature Conservation Society and Greenpeace say they can not be against genetic engineering as such, they have never brought the message that technology can be used in the service of the environment, and never have they responded to the lies of genetic engineering that abound online and in the media and spread by their shock troops on pages like “Hello When GMOs.”
Sure you can wish for a more even distribution of the earth’s resources, that we should eat less meat and end up throwing away edible food, and some must be the case for it. But this would be contrary to the development of a sustainable and highly productive agriculture using genetic engineering, as these organizations are performing, understand we are not logic in.We therefore appeal to you, listen to the scientific community but ideological earplugs, stop indulge in populist move in order to win members and let us contribute to a good use of genetic engineering for the environment and future generations.Jens Sundström, Associate Professor of Plant Physiology, Swedish University of AgriculturalSten Stymne, Professor of Plant Breeding, Swedish University of Agricultural