lifestyle

Gene breakthrough to help farmers hit by tsunami

39 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2012 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

39 Comments
Login to comment

GMO

"The technique, which does not use genetic modification, pinpoints DNA variants which confer specific qualities in a plant."

Next sentence: "Armed with this knowledge, breeders can then use classic methods to splice these genes into an existing strain."

Hello, this is genetic modification.

No thanks!

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Fabulous news! So now our crops will be sprayed to death with chemicals, radioactive AND genetically modified!

Eat up, kiddies! o kawari anyone??!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I agree. When you cross-breed strains in an attempt to reach a desired genetic configuration, you're doing genetic modification. This is why I don't have an issue with genetically-modified foods. Humans have been performing genetic modifications for centuries and we haven't died-out as a species yet.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Nicky Washida, please don't worry. All cultured crops are already genetically modified via breeding/selection, from apples to potatoes. While traditional breeding relies on chance trait combinations/mutations and selection, here researchers have sped up the process by increasing the mutation rate in plants and selected those plants resilient to certain conditions or that had higher yields per plant. Bear in mind that mutations in general are a natural phenomenon.

I am not sure whether this comforts you but most of what you eat has probably been genetically modified in one way or another, excluding perhaps seaweed, wild fish and mammals that are not suitable for husbandry, like whales.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Do none of the naysayers actually understand what selective breeding is? How do you think rice was developed into a useful plant in the first place? Not to mention dogs, cows, wheat...

7 ( +7 / -0 )

They have been able to create a variety of rice which can grow in soil contaminated by sea water. Sounds like what is needed. Man has been changing plants for hundreds of years. There are few real roses, most are hybrids.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Do none of the naysayers actually understand what selective breeding is?

Actually to be fair I have to hold up my hands and say no - not really, beyond what I have read in the press. Selective breeeding I have no problem with though - it is genetic splicing and dicing through artificial means that gives me the heebie jeebies.

Therefore Qaueckernaeck - thank you for the brief, simple explanation. This does not seem as bad as at first glance.

Happy to admit when I am mistaken!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

all food you eat has been genetically modified . unless you go out into virgin wilderness and eat off the land. even then you have the chance to eat a plant that has crossed with a domesticated plant on chance.

genetic engineering should be embraced and properly tested.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Genetic modification does not occur naturally and is not the same as cross breeding and is not the same as human intervention of the past.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Just what Japan needs; more subsidized rice production that nobody wants.

Irrational thought is almost impossible to cure. GM foods are perfectly safe.

I would be much more concerned about things like ochratoxin A; 200 grams of peanuts is all it takes to go over the daily tolerable intake of ochratoxin A. There is a long list of natural toxins in most food and other niceties like rat poop and dead mice. There are strict limits in the amounts of dead mice, animal poop, and natural toxins allowed in food because scientists know they are dangerous. There is no limit in the amount of "foreign" genetic material allowed in food because scientists know GM foods are safe.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

GM foods are perfectly safe.

I don't care if they're safe or not, I don't want them. Same as if I'm looking to buy a red sweater, I don't want a blue one even if it will keep me just as warm. It's not what I want.

When people call their product/actions perfectly safe/legal/normal you can be sure they're anything but. Nothing is perfectly anything. Except claims that genetic modification is no different from selective breeding. That's perfectly bogus.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Cleo, I generally like your posts. Would you care to elaborate on your issue with genetically engineered crops? I agree that the genetically engineered crops and and selectively bred crops are technically not the same, but are they fundamentally not simply different means to the same end?

Genetic engineering relies on our knowledge of how a gene functions molecularly within a cell & organism, and by shuffling useful genes from one plant to another we can improve a certain trait of a crop/animal, in an agricultural context. Selective breeding is less based on our understanding of a plant's inner-workings, but by selecting plants with desired traits (as a result of natural/unnatural mutations that occur by chance) and crossing them with other variants we, quite similarly, try to improve certain traits of a crop/animal.

I think it is great that you don't want them, that is your choice to make of course. And I understand your concern, for example I am not happy about initiatives such as the engineered GloFish (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glofish) myself.

Conversely, I want to stress that things are not simply black or white, and that it is important to realize that the same knowledge is being used to try and feed the world (millions are still starving on our planet) and to develop ways to treat diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer and Huntington's disease, via gene therapy--efforts that might deserve our support.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Qaueckernaeck - My main bug with GMO is that the businesses manufacturing them try to pass them off as 'no different from conventional crops'. That obviously isn't the case because no business-savvy huge corporation spends billions on developing stuff that's just the same as what's already on the market. If their product is so wonderful, then fine, they can explain exactly what it is that's so different and wonderful, and convince me that I ought to want it in preference to ordinary stuff. They don't do that; they just cry about consumers wanting GMOs properly labelled. If it's so beneficial, they should be the ones wanting it labelled.

I have never yet heard a single explanation of why I should want to buy GMO. They say it's easier to grow, produces larger crops, requires fewer pesticides and less labour - all of which should make the end product cheaper. Yet they want to mix it in with conventional crops, at the same price. So what's in it for me?

Allowing a handful of large corporations to hold patents for basic crop seeds, and allowing them to charge small farmers a fortune for the seeds each year, is a recipe for disaster. India for example has seen an epidemic of suicides by small farmers unable to repay the debts they incurred to buy the so-called 'magic seeds'. Small farmers should be able to save seed from their crops for the next sowing, but the big GM companies don't allow them to do that.

As for feeding the starving millions - there is plenty of food. It's wars, revolutions and politics that keep the food away from the people who need it. Allowing the big GM corporations to get still bigger isn't going to change that.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Genetic modification does not occur naturally and is not the same as cross breeding and is not the same as human intervention of the past.

Genetic modification doesn't occur naturally? I guess that's why we still have mastodons and saber-toothed tigers roaming the world. It's also why we're the Australopithecus species. Oh. Wait... Let me guess, you're one of those "The world was created 6000 years ago by God and evolution is a crock" people, right?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Hahaha, someone thinks GM food is the same as evolution., that made me laugh.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Genetic modification is man made in the lab not naturally. Extinction has nothing to do with the subject.

Yeah and the species we now know as the giraffe ALWAYS had a neck that long. Riiiggghhhht. The simple fact is that a genetic modification resulted in a longer neck - allowing the modified animal to reach more food in the trees than the original shorter-necked version. The longer neck allowed that GENETICALLY MODIFIED species to become dominant and the original shorter-necked species died-out because they couldn't compete for the food source There were ZERO humans involved in that genetic modification.

By the way, while mammoths and saber-toothed cats are extinct, other species in the same families survived because their genetic modifications over the years allowed them to successfully compete and thrive in the changing environment. There are STILL cougars, pumas, and ocelots of the family Felidae in existence which are from the same family as the saber-toothed cats. There are STILL African and Indian elephants of the family Elephantidae around which are from the same family as mammoths. Why? Because their genetic modifications that happened in the past allowed them to better compete and thrive than their ill-fated cousins.

Stating that genetic modification is only conducted by humans is ludicrous.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Fadamor; You are confusing genetic modification with evolution. Animals cannot gentciacl modify themselves nor can plant life. They can evolve, adapt, there is survival of the fittest but this is not modification. naturally changes take thousands or millions of years, genetic modification is in a lab and has instant results.

Stating that genetic modification is performed in nature is ridiculous.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

My last word on thiss itaken from Wiki" GM is the direct manipulation of an organism's genome using modern DNA technology. It involves the introduction of foreign DNA or synthetic gene. An organism that is generated through the introduction of recombinant DNA is considered to be a genetically modified organism. The first organisms genetically enginered were bacteria in 1973 and mice in 1974.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There are in fact about 100,000, yes you read that right, pieces of the human genome or about 8% that came from viruses. We are genetically modified!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@proxy, genetic modification is not the same as that. Modification means introducing DNA to another species in a way that does mot occur in nature. Maybe 8 per cent of genome came from viruses but they are naturally occuring not man made.As already mentioned by another poster the meaning is different than you and other posters seem to think which i find rather bizarre especially considering the Frankenstein foods scare in Europe about a decade ago.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I thought the Japanese are always very proud of the Japanese rice which is superior in taste and unique. Are we going to get a " bastard " strain that will change everything ? What will happen to the sake ??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Allowing a handful of large corporations to hold patents for basic crop seeds, and allowing them to charge small farmers a fortune for the seeds each year, is a recipe for disaster. India for example has seen an epidemic of suicides by small farmers unable to repay the debts they incurred to buy the so-called 'magic seeds'. Small farmers should be able to save seed from their crops for the next sowing, but the big GM companies don't allow them to do that.

The entire reason that GM seeds (that is, plants) are sterile is due to environmentalists being concerned that GM strains will outperform non-GM strains, causing those non-GM strains to go extinct. Thus, it's a catch 22 - if the seeds are sterile, people will say the corporations are creating dependency, and if they're not sterile, people will say corporations are ruining the environment.

Also, I support genetic modification. I think it's really neat, and would only buy GM foods if given the choice!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cleo I think you have some very good points there, thanks for the post!

NinjaDave I think genetic modification is a misnomer, regardless of what a wiki says, altering the genetic information of an organism via recombinant DNA would be best called genetic engineering. Notwithstanding it is a form of GM. Conversely, by exposing a plant to radiation or a mutagen many genetic modifications can be induced, but this is a more random and a non-targeted strategy, and this too should be considered a form of GM--but is distinct from genetic engineering.

In the case of the crop of the article, a mutagen was used to increase the amount of mutations that occur in a plant's DNA. Then they selected plants with desired traits. Therefore, to me this is a genetically modified plant, but not a genetically engineered plant. I believe it is very important to distinguish these two.

Moreover I think it is important for all of us to take Cleo's words to heart and force the industry to higher standards and more clarity. Rather than fooling us with misleading labels, clearly visible labels with careful descriptions and explanations should be provided for each product.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The entire reason that GM seeds (that is, plants) are sterile is due to environmentalists being concerned that GM strains will outperform non-GM strains, causing those non-GM strains to go extinct.

The entire reason? No. The bottom line is.....the bottom line. When GM strains do contaminate a farmer's crop, instead of compensating him Monsanto demands he pay for the 'privilege' of growing their frankenfoods.

Percy Schmeiser was no environmentalist; he was happy spraying his crops with herbicides. But he never bought any seeds from Monsanto. http://www.percyschmeiser.com/conflict.htm

The Mayfield brothers were sued by Monsanto for allegedly saving and planting seed (obviously not sterile) and for planting more acreage than Big Brother Monsanto approved of. http://www.organicconsumers.org/Monsanto/farmerssued.cfm

Monsanto also sues farmers who have never bought their products and never use their products either knowingly or unknowingly. It sues them for advertising the milk they produce as being free of the bovine growth hormone Monsanto sells. A 'No Artificial Growth Hormones' label is, according to Monsanto, 'deceptive' and disparages Monsanto's products 'by implying that milk from untreated cows is better than milk from hormone-treated cows'. Duh. http://www.keepmainefree.org/suesuesue.html

Catch-22 my eye - sterile or not, GMO companies are creating dependency, and they are destroying the environment.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Thanks Cleo for your postings.

GM foods are engineered, not natural. An animal or plant cannot splice their own genes and insert other DNA.

There is this thing called hybridization, farmers have been doing that for centuries, big difference.

A great read to understand about your food: Seeds of Deception by Jeffrey Smith. There is also a website with a wealth of information: www.seedsofdeception.com

Before actually educating myself on this issue, I was mindless about these issues too. Now I look at the foods I feed my family much differently.

Not interested in GM rice that is for sure!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Roundup-Ready soybeans are immune to the herbicide Roundup, which kills everything else it comes into contact with. This means farmers can zap all the weeds in their fields with Roundup and plant their crop immediately, without waiting for the poison to leach out of the soil. They can also blanket-spray the crop with Roundup while it's growing, to keep the weeds away. Wonderfully labour-saving for the farmer maybe, but he then markets a crop that has grown in a field soaked in a very strong poison. Who wants to eat that?

Developing salt-resistant crops for growing in coastal areas, or in areas where changing climate patterns have brought salt to the surface, sounds like good use of otherwise poor land. But the tsunami-affected land isn't contaminated only with salt; there's all kinds of oils and chemicals that the water took out of tanks and storage facilities and spread over the land. I don't really want to eat rice grown in fields soaked in petrochemicals and other unknown contaminants.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@KobeGrandad Just because it occurs in "nature" does not mean it is good. There is growing evidence that the vial DNA we carry in our genome is responsible for schizophrenia and other diseases.

Like I said in my first post, irrational thought be it over vaccines or religious is impossible to eradicate.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Proxy, educate yourself on the matter mate. Your last post has nothing to do with the topic.

Qaueckernaeck; Modification or engineering are both the correct terms to use. Engineering was the original term used by scientists but modification has become the most recognised term.

I avoid these products, though there is no direct proof of harm to humans yet. It does however harm farmers and holds them to ransom to firms like Monsanto. There is also concern that GM crops are effecting the eco system in some areas.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Each child is a genetically modified human derived from the genes of their parents. It's all part of evolution. Genetically modified food, is just evolution with a helping hand from science. Nothing unusual about that.

Genetic engineering is pioneering many advances in medicine too. In the not too distant future, we will have the technology and knowledge to identify and treat/cure the genes that cause so many dreadful diseases.

If you do not understand the subject, I can understand your concern. Watch this amazing documentary to learn more about 'Cells and Genes' and our rapidly increasing knowledge thanks to science. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HArnb72IBvg&feature=share

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It is astounding the ignorance to what genetic modification means. It does not occur naturally, there are nstural mutations, hereditary trits etc but genetic modification is made by man in a lab and is less than forty years old.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Climate change is so scary.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tokyokawasaki -

Genetic engineering is pioneering many advances in medicine too. In the not too distant future, we will have the technology and knowledge to identify and treat/cure the genes that cause so many dreadful diseases.

Sounds an awful lot like the argument that since we use radiation for X-rays and treating cancer, that we need not worry about the raised levels from Fukushima harming our health.

Agree that on the surface it may sound good to be able to use the soil again, but not practical or realistic. Like cleo states there is more than salt in that soil....

Why not let nature take its course? Isn't there like tons and tons of stored rice here in Japan anyway. Why not delve into that???

NinjaDave, we do have proof that animals incur horrible health risks from GMO foods. (site the research from the book "Seeds of Deception") Often that is what we base our conclusions on since we don't supposedly 'experiment' on humans. However when money is involved, those findings are not considered useful.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@KobeGrandad I already gave you the example of 8% of the human genome coming from viruses; if that is not natural genetic modification, what is? Lateral DNA transfer is a natural process.

The bacteria that causes gonorrhea actually has human DNA in its genome.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

KobeGrandad: It is astounding the ignorance to what genetic modification means.

I am sure it is just a semantics issue...

Genetic Evolution is a natural process which occurs (independently) in every new generation in all living things.

Genetic Modification is a hybrid form genetic evolution as a result of intentional manipulation of the TACG sequences within the structure of the DNA double helix.

The real question is, could rice naturally evolve to withstand salt, if it's environment slowly had salt introduced overtime (in the same manner that our immune systems evolves to combat bacteria)?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Proxy: According to endless and continuous research in the field of Cell Biology, it is widely delivered that we all evolved from a single cell... Therefore it is not surprising that all living things share 'some' similarities within the coded instructions found in our genes/DNA.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

typo: believed not delivered :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Someone is gonna make a lot of money selling seeds.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you do not understand the subject, I can understand your concern.

Thank you tokyokawasaki! I didnt. still dont really, TBH. But I am opting to get myself educated on it before freaking out further! Natural selection I have no problem with. "Encouraging" the best genes to mix I also have no problem with depending on method. I guess I just get a little heebie jeebie with the idea of creating the labradoodle of the food industry, and what that could potentially do to our environment.

But when I think about it, I am all for genetic engineering to knock out of the chain some of the most hideous diseases of our time. Its not a great leap across to doing the same thing to plants and animals to benefit mankind I guess, as long as they know what the consequences are of what they are doing - ah! Theres my issue!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

animal or plant cannot splice their own genes and insert other DNA.

But viruses splice their genes into bacteria. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transduction_%28genetics%29

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites