Genetic modification, carbon emissions and the Greens

An interesting discussion at The Standard yesterday on genetic modification in New Zealand, in general and how this relates to the Green party anti-GE stance.

Andre kicked it off with:

Genetic modification to dramatically improve photosynthetic efficiency. It could help us deal with the challenges of a world on its way to 10 billion humans. If only the rabids can get over their blind kneejerk opposition to genetic modification *because Monsanto*.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/01/re-engineering-photosynthesis-gives-plants-a-40-growth-boost/

Greens are faced with a dilemma if GE can provide a viable means of reducing carbon emissions.

“Your argument that selective breeding is comparative to GE is, to speak plainly, plainly bullshit.”

They’re different tools for doing the same job, with GE being a faster and more precise tool. Someone who chooses to protect in a plant a natural mutation that’s useful to the person but would be evolutionarily disadvantageous to the plant isn’t taking a “holistic” or “natural” approach any more than a genetic engineer does. They’re both just using the tools they have to achieve a desired outcome.

Your statements about “breaking the planet” and biodiversity are claims about human population growth and industrial farming in general, not genetic engineering in particular. The entire planet could outlaw GE tomorrow and the problems you’re referring to would still exist, and could conceivably be worse. This is a common problem with the arguments of GE opponents, ie the arguments often do not support the conclusions claimed.

https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-05-01-19/#comment-1568502

But there’s a lot more to the issue than this. There are a lot of arguments and discussions. I don’t have time at the moment to try to summarise. Discussions are in several threads:

https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-05-01-19/#comment-1568075

https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-05-01-19/#comment-1568107

https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-05-01-19/#comment-1568076

8 Comments

  1. Patzcuaro

     /  January 6, 2019

    Genetic modification is not always a good idea.

  2. acrossthespectrum

     /  January 6, 2019

    It is true that humans have been altering the environment for thousands of years. remarkable we are still here. We have the ability to destroy the world with nuclear weapons in a few hours. That’s scary. Total disarmament would be preferable sooner rather than later. Nothing wrong with robust debates on plant modification better than just proceeding at will.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  January 6, 2019

      We could destroy ourselves but not the world. Yet.

  3. Kitty Catkin

     /  January 6, 2019

    People who make new colours of flowers by mixing the pollen and doing things like that to make plants better and stronger are surely using GM in their own way.

    I have just been driven back inside; the sun’s blinding even with Le Specs on and it was too blimmin hot to hang around.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  January 6, 2019

      my Le Specs

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  January 6, 2019

        29C here. Dog just had a run(?) and I had an ice-cream.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  January 6, 2019

          Fido hasn’t had a run since I have had this kneecap trouble, but he’s tiny and can run around the garden if he wants to. He does have a gallop first and last thing, but tends to run out of steam as the day hots up. He’s sitting behind my shoulders, like a living hotwater bottle. This is friendly but rather hot.

          I forgot to look at the temperature, but it was HOTTTT; the bathroom is the only one with a metal window and it was very hot indeed. OUCH !!! I have fans in all the rooms, even the bathroom and laundry/loo. Bliss.