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Publicly Funded GMO Research Facing Destruction In Italy 245

Posted by timothy
from the for-great-justice dept.
ChromeAeonium writes "Shortly after the events in Rothamsted Research in the UK, where a publicly funded trial of wheat genetically engineered to repel aphids was threatened by activists with destruction and required police protection, another publicly funded experiment involving genetically engineered crops faces possible destruction (original in Italian). The trial, which is being conducted by researchers at the University of Tuscia in Italy on cherries, olives, and kiwis genetically engineered to have traits such as fungal disease resistance, started three decades ago. When field research of GE plants was banned in Italy in 2002, the trial received an extension to avoid being declared illegal, but was denied another in 2008, and following a complaint from the Genetic Rights Foundation, now faces destruction on June 12th, despite appeals from scientists. The researchers claim that the destruction is scientifically unjustifiable (only the male kiwis produce transgenic pollen and their flowers are removed) and wish to gather more information from the long running experiment."
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Publicly Funded GMO Research Facing Destruction In Italy

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  • Re:GE/GMO crops (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2012 @12:32AM (#40279795)
    You sir, are an idiot on so many levels that it defies belief.

    Do you eat Nectarines? Tomatoes? Potatoes? ( The list goes on, but I doubt you care.)

    All of these items have been "Genetically Modified". What is the real difference between selective breeding for traits, and simply inserting those traits?

    Oh, yeah, YEARS of time possibly saved. The article doesn't say where or how the GMs came from, so your comment is uneducated at best. (Reference for natural trading of genes via bacteria inserted here. Do your own research. )

    This is fungus resistance. Additionally, the "Evil Genes" in this project have already been in THE WILD for 30 years. Any damage to the surrounding area, if any, is pretty much already done.
    The article doesn't say where the resistance is coming from, but I seriously doubt they inserted a gene to produce Captan into the trees genetic code.
    WTF are you worried about? Cherries that don't freakin rot in a wet spring?

    Someone please genetically engineer a flu virus that will give idiots like this at least an average IQ, and possibly a smidgen of common sense. Release it ASAP. Still, it'll be too late to save all these trees and research. (BTW, the Cherries and Olives appear to be sterile, from the translated article, so it's not like they'e spreading pollen. The Kiwi flowers appear to be removed every year, so they don't look to be going too far either. )

    Idiots...

    (Posted anon as I'm currently looking for a job, and the idiots of the world mostly rule. Their money is just as good as the non-idiots.)
    ( Grammar Nazis, feel free. I'm so god damn pissed off by this idiot that my skills are questionable at this time. )
  • by br00tus (528477) on Monday June 11, 2012 @12:44AM (#40279861)

    Italians have voted to not do this. They're tired of US corporations like Monsanto pushing them around. Actually, the US with the push of its power elite was heavily involved in fixing elections and installing a puppet government [wikipedia.org] in Italy, and then making sure [wikipedia.org] that government couldn't be tossed out once it was in [wikipedia.org]. Now Italian workers are told they have to suffer under "austerity" (for them) and be ruled by foreign banks and foreign corporations.

    Good for Mario Capanna and company. The Italians democratically voted this in, I have no desire for the Monsantos of the world to find some way to weasel around this. What does Monsanto do anyhow? Create plants with sterile seeds [wikipedia.org], so Monsanto can then grab all of the farmer's money? Sue farmer's whose fields are next to [percyschmeiser.com] Monsanto seed fields, alongside the blowing winds, and get the courts and government's to side with them against small farmers?

    The antiquated, anti-enlightenment ideas are not the working people and small farmers trying to protect themselves against a small handful of parasites trying to take ownership of everything. The backwards, antiquated ideas are the corporate newspapers and websites who attack anyone against against handing the whole world on a plate to the parasite heir Monsanto majority shareholders. In Italy, in Greece, in Spain, at Occupy Wall Street and Occupy everywhere, people are fed up with the high unemployment, and the expropriation of surplus value from the majority of working people to a handful of parasitic 1% heirs. This Monsanto GM IP deal is no different than the big companies in IT who own all the patents and are parasitically suing everyone around, and harming economic growth.

  • Re:GE/GMO crops (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jesus_666 (702802) on Monday June 11, 2012 @01:04AM (#40279939)
    One reason why isolation is neccessary is because GMO plants tend to contain patented genes. If the pollen spreads then random farmers can now be sued by large corporatons even though they did nothing wrong. The only reasonable options I can think of are:

    - GMO plants must be cultivated in sealed greenhouses or the farmer needs to take other effective measures to prohibit the spread of pollen to unlicensed farms. Can be combined with the second option.
    - If pollen spreads it's clearly the fault of the farmer who grew the plants and thus THAT farmer is liable for patent violation, not the receiving farmer. The courts should find as such. Unfortunately, most farmers are going to settle without going to court so this is not a satisfactory solution. Also, the corporations are going to fight this tooth and nail as it doesn't allow them to pressure people into buying licenses.
    - GMO licenses are required to cover the farm and any area likely to be pollinated around it. The lobby won't allow it.
    - GMO plants are required to be sterile and pollen-free. This would probably lead to those plants being clones, which is not a good solution.
    - Gene patents are declared invalid or unenforcable. Unlikely.
    - GMO plants are banned entirely. Baby-and-bathwater scenario.

    Do we have any better feasible option than to require the use of greenhouses to reduce unlicensed pollination? I don't think that "you can be sued by a big corporation because of something perfectly legal your neighbor did" is a state we should put farmers in.
  • Re:GE/GMO crops (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Monday June 11, 2012 @02:42AM (#40280341)

    And how is that different from every other random mutation and genetic alteration? Genetic engineering is different from selective breeding, sure (so is every other breeding technique like back crossing and wide crossing, and other similar techniques like hybridization, and other plant improvement methods like induced polyploidy, mutagenesis, sport selection, embryo rescue, ect.) and the genes come from farther, but why exactly is that a bad thing (provided you understand the genes being used)? Okay, the genes may be from another species. Well, so what?

    we're pretty sure" they won't go Terminator on us.

    Stop making baseless assertions unless you know how inserting a gene is suddenly going to make the plant do something radical. Genetic engineering does not anything can happen at anytime for any reason.

  • Re:GE/GMO crops (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Monday June 11, 2012 @02:48AM (#40280363)

    Look up 'rafflesia', it's a plant that exchanges DNA with the organism it's a parasite on.

    You don't even have to get that exotic. Plants can exchange genes via graft unions. [sciencemag.org] Most all fruit you eat is propagated by grafting, so it may be that every grafted plant has some gene transfer going on. Or to get even closer, here's a good example. [nih.gov] Turns out the Syncytin genes critical for human reproduction probably came from a virus. Everyone who says transgenes don't occur in nature had their syncytiotrophoblast made by one.

  • Re:GE/GMO crops (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2012 @02:55AM (#40280399)

    There's even the theory that human evolution is caused, not by mutations, but by DNA swapping by viruses (mostly) and bacteria. Individual genes in humans don't evolve. They go from (very complex) state A -> (even more complex) state B without passing anywhere in between. Why ? Unknown, but if you discount Harun Yahya, the idea seems to be that someone's gonads get infected with DNA rewriting viruses.

    And it is quite understandable that it works this way. Humans reproduce once every 20 years (12 years at the earliest, so let's call it 16 years worldwide average, because that's 2^4, which just happens to be an easy number to calculate with). The search space for the protein is ~ 4^2000 (2000 basepairs, discounting the gene's metadata*, and there's loads of them that are much larger). So how long would it take a human race to make a single modification to a single protein ? 4^2000 / avg. number of humans (= 4 ^ 16 say) * 20 (let's say) 4 ^ 2 years = 4 ^ 1986 = 2 ^ 3972 years. Which is *far* longer than the universe has existed.

    Needless to say, this points rather strongly to the idea that we, as humans, and even life on earth as a whole, did not evolve due to mutation primarily, but due to GMO viruses, which essentially "share" the discoveries of lower, very short lived protozoa with higher lifeforms like ourselves.

    * in reality DNA (in eukaryots, like humans) looks a hell of a lot like a filesystem. Genes have symbolic names (which are just a sequence of basepairs, which then get indexed. Genes can refer to one another using this symbolic name). They have length data, they even have what might be termed permissions ("only translate this gene if protein X is present in at least concentration Y" is one of them). They have small non-translateable programs that get executed by the cell nucleus to do something (in most cases we don't know what exactly) before actually using the gene. They have small programs associated with them that rewrite the gene when executed upon normal cell division. They have small sections that get executed during meiosis (which is the cell division used for procreation, sometimes jokingly referred to as sex division, since that's what it's used for) (an example is code that essentially does this : "mommies_hla_code = hla_code; while(hla_code == mommies_hla_code) hla_code = random(297)", which resets one of the access codes for the immune system, but makes sure that, for the first few months after birth, mommie's access codes will work correctly, and her cells can operate inside the feutus/baby without getting massacred by the child's immune system).

    The DNA double helix we all know is a "serialized" form of DNA that isn't effectively present in the cell during normal operation (only during division). Instead the double helix is unrolled and present as a networked structure, which uses molecular "ropes", for example, link the symbolic names of a gene to the actual gene (think of it this way, if you have "int c = 5;" somewhere in the DNA code, during normal cell operation everywhere you find an actual use of "c", e.g. "translate(c)" you would find a physical thread that you can follow to arrive at the "int c = 5;" declaration). There are also a lot of proteins, which we mostly do not know, that execute all those bits of metadata coupled with genes.

    The weird part is that we haven't yet found the DNA that encodes the function of the cell nucleus. I mean, given that we've found it in pretty much every other organelle, we're pretty fucking sure we will find it eventually ... but if you want a nobel prize, finding this would probably get you one, especially if it's somehow weird, which is entirely possible.

  • Re:GE/GMO crops (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iluvcapra (782887) on Monday June 11, 2012 @10:44AM (#40283419)

    There was an interesting TED talk about this recently, the nut was that birth rates aren't correlated to religiosity in a population, they're primarily determined by female literacy, access to birth control, and improvements in infant mortality. (Birth rates often dramatically overstate population, since places with high numbers of births per woman also have high first-year infant mortality.). Even pervasively religious countries like the UAE and Iran are under two births per mother, and poorer countries like Egypt and even India are creeping under 3.

    Religion is not a genotype, it's not subject to genetic fitness or natural selection, it cannot be bred in or out. Christians have Christian children for the same reason that Chineses speakers have Chinese-speaking children.

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