variabity in cultivated plants: their conservation and exploration in
relation to MGO
A comment by Nagib Nassar
The use of GM crops as food must be approached with caution, for two
important reasons. The first is that natural variability in our crops is
abundant. When we have made use of this, it has saved crops from many
diseases and significantly improved nutritional content, which has been
of great benefit to humans. It is absurd to ignore this variability or
allow it to fade away. And look at the variation in bacteria and
viruses. Who knows the consequences of this in genetic engineering? Has
it been examined? The answer is not yet . not at all.
Take Bt cotton. All the aspects of it studied so far have shown
harmful effects on soil and ecosystems. What has not yet been examined
may prove worse. For example, many people in developing countries depend
on cotton oil for food and on cottonseed for fodder. If Bt cotton proved
fatal for soil bacteria, imagine what might happen to humans and animals
who consume products made from it. Has any systematic study
focused on this subject?
The second reason is the potential effect on the environment.
Discussion has centred on the validity of techniques used to measure
contamination of wild maize by GM plants, but everybody knows that an
allogamous plant like maize must hybridise in nature with wild
relatives.What happens to the ecosystems that are contaminated in this
way? Isn't it possible that these bacterial genes appeared as mutations
in the past, and were eliminated by natural selection because they were
harmful to plants, humans and ecosystems? Now we are forcing nature to
accept what it has already eliminated. Who pays the price?