Friday, September 14, 2007


I usually like to write my own posts, but this excerpt from a brochure (link:
provided my the Sandiego Center for Molecular Agricultue is very interesting and tells a story about biotechnology that everyone can relate to.

"Dad, are there any genes on my plate?" my 14-year-old daughter asked.What if
your child asked you this? An opinion survey showed that 70 percent of the
people have the mistaken idea that ordinary food does not contain genes,
whereas GM food does. Rather than explain to my daughter that every bite of
food on her plate has billions of genes, I told her a story.

"In the mountains high above Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Luis and
Jimena Rodriguez tend their small field of corn and beans.They are ‘organic’
farmers because they don’t have enough money to buy fertilizers or pesticides.
After they bring in the corn harvest, they store the ears in a large corn crib that
covers the entire back wall of their one-room house. It’s the safest place to store
the corn.This room also has their bed and the four kids sleep on the floor. After
the harvest is in, Luis goes to town to buy some pesticide to fumigate the corn
inside his house. In the house his corn is safe from rain, rodents, and thieves, but
not from insects. If he does not fumigate, the weevils will eat the stored corn. If
he does not fumigate, he will have more weevils than corn kernels in six
months’ time. Indeed, each female weevil lays about 100 eggs, and after the larvae
hatch, they burrow into the seeds. After thirty-five days mature insects
emerge and the cycle begins again. Half of those insects are females, so just
multiply 50 by 50 by 50 by 50 by 50 and figure out how many that is," I said to
my daughter.

"More than 5 million," she answered, "all coming from two weevils."

"Now suppose that the corn was genetically modified with a Bt gene to kill
those weevils, the parents and children wouldn’t have to sleep in those pesticide
fumes," I said. "Don’t you think those children would benefit from having
some genes on their plates?"

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