Posts Tagged: GMOs
ABC Rural radio in Australia. Host Anna Vidot talked to Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis, about the fate of Proposition 37, which on Tuesday received about 4.3 million votes in favor and 4.8 million votes against.
In the eight-minute interview, Van Eenennaam said Proposition 37 was a flawed bill that would only have been applied to processed foods available in supermarkets, leaving out dairy products, fresh meat and restaurant foods.
"I think it was a vote against a really poorly written initiative, that had a lot of loopholes and hidden exemptions and that had this lawsuit provision in there that allowed anybody that saw something mislabeled to sue the grocery store without having to prove damages," Van Eenennaam said.
In his play, The Tempest, Shakespeare said, "Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows." If the Bard had met UC Davis plant pathology professor Pamela Ronald and her husband Raoul Adamchak, he might have written, "Love acquaints strange bedfellows." Ronald studies genetically altering plants and Adamchak is an organic farmer at the UC Davis certified organic farm.
Together the couple wrote a book, Tomorrow's Table, that today was featured in a Q&A style US News & World Report article. The authors believe the marriage of genetic engineering and organic farming is key to feeding the world's growing population, the article said.
Much more information on the book is in a UC Davis news service release, so I will close this short post with another proverb from Shakespeare: "Brevity is the soul of wit."
UC Berkeley Cooperative Extension biotechnology specialist Peggy Lemaux spoke at a workshop in Lake County this week, where the board of supervisors have been asked again to consider banning genetically modified crops, according to a story in the Lake County Record-Bee. The board narrowly rejected such an ordinance in 2004.
"Since this is such a controversial issue, I thought it would be wiser to have a discussion in the format of a workshop to talk about these things and decide if we want to pursue an ordinance or some other process," board chair Ed Robey was quoted in the story.
Lemaux told the board that creating a crossbreed was like "cutting and pasting genetic information out of a plant" to create a new plant with a desirable genetic trait, according to the story. Referring to an image in Lemaux's presentation (and posted with this blog entry), farmer Doug Mosel differed from her view, according to this quote from the paper:
"Forcefully inserting DNA from an unrelated organic specimen into a target specimen is not as simple as removing part of a page of one book into another. The leaves of books don't interact the same way living organisms interact. They interact with unpredictable dynamics."
GMOs will likely continue to generate discourse for plant pundits. Case in point, the author of "Plenty - The World in Green" blog today quotes UC Berkeley agroecologist Miguel Altieri, who argues against genetically modifying crops.
“The history of agriculture shows us that there will always be another pest,” Altieri is quoted. “Will we have to keep re-engineering the vines for each one? The solution is not in genetic re-engineering but in making our agricultural systems more resilient.”
Image illustrates Lemaux's point.
Not surprisingly, a story in yesterday's Sacramento Bee about goats that have been genetically modified with human genes is generating comments on the newspaper's Web site.
The story was prompted by a UC Davis news service press release by Pat Bailey.
In short, UC Davis animal scientists James Murray and Elizabeth Maga engineered a small herd of dairy goats to produce high levels of a human antibiotic-like protein in their milk. Pigs fed milk from the transgenic goats had significantly lower levels of E. coli bacteria in their small intestines than those raised on regular goat's milk. The scientists feel the results mean the goat milk could one day be used to protect or cure people of diseases, especially in poor regions of the world.
Comments on the story ranged from outraged to indifferent to funny.
"Completely disturbing... on so many levels," said one.
"What's disturbing is the irrational fear," wrote another.
"It might be disturbing, but it sure explains a lot about my mother in law," commented a writer.
Those interested in learning the ins and outs of dairy goat production may wish to attend a workshop May 15 in Merced. UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Deborah Giraud says the market for goat milk is growing due to increasing popularity of specialty goat milk cheese and yogurt. For all the details and registration information, click here.
UC Davis plant pathologist Pamela Ronald has an idea that might make collaborators out of Californians who have commonly been at cross purposes. Ronald suggested that combining genetic engineering with organic farming may be the best way to grow food for a growing world population facing climate change and environmental degradation.
In a story with a Hong Kong dateline, Ronald told Reuters the world needed to use every technology available to secure food supplies for the 9.2 billion people expected by 2050, up from the current 6.7 billion.
"Genetic engineering is a way to make seeds ... Farmers rely on seeds for good yields, but seeds cannot solve everything," she was quoted. "You need some way to add fertiliser and control the pests. That's where organic farming has a lot to contribute."
Ronald helped develop genetically modified disease-resistant rice that China may begin to grow on a large scale; her husband is an organic farmer, according to the article, written by Nao Nakanishi.
Currently, organic farming certification agencies do not permit the use of GMO seed to produce organic products.