Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mother Nature Dismembered by Genetic Engineering (Continuing series)

Dr Abe V Rotor

Dismembered Nature in acrylic AVR

Scenario: A rat glowing in the dark carrying the phosphorescent gene of the jellyfish - for what motive drove the crazy scientist? People jump off their seats, children shriek, there is fun and pandemonium.  This new creature became a novelty and celebrity, a symbol of a postmodern technology. It is now an orphan detached from its natural gene pool. To return to its population, it must escape from the laboratory, and share its new gene with its kind. Soon enough a population of glowing rats fills the "village of a Hamlyn".  Now we need a modern Pied Piper to wipe these Genetically Modified pest out.  Could he?   

This is true to GM plants, animal, microorganisms - the foreign gene will remain forever as it crosses the boundaries of fields, colonies, populations, countries, islands, or in short, the boundaries of time and space. 

There is no way to sweep away genetic pollution, unlike conventional pollution.  It even surpasses radioactive fallout because  radioactivity has a self life even if it takes hundreds of years to declare the level safe to health and environment.  Perhaps the only time the spread of genetic pollution in a particular carrier comes to an end is when its own species becomes extinct.  By then it shall have found other hosts to continue the transfer. 

When protein gene from say peanut is spliced into soybean, you transfer allergy susceptibility as well, and doctors may not be able to trace it at all. Meantime we say it is safe.  How about protein gene coming from non-edible source?  The problem with GM products is the lack, or impossible, pre-test guarantee. By the way allergy is not limited to humans; it is universal to living things in various manifestations. This is not good because allergy is a safely valve of the body system. 

There is this case called "Suicide Gene" spliced into a high value crops allegedly by the exclusive distributors of a GM crop like hybrid corn. The mechanism is simple. Combine the suicide gene with the DNA of a hybrid corn so that the progeny or F1 will not produce seeds for a second crop, thus preventing farmers to source and share seeds, an age old farming tradition.  Because suicide gene is transferable by natural pollination, it easily finds its way to pollute natural gene pools not only limited on a particular crop but other crops as well. It is chain reaction ad infinitum. A never ending Big Bang. 

Genetic engineering, through aggressive promotion claims, is the messiah of agriculture. It is as if it is the ultimate solution to feed an exploding population with both its needs and affluence. In the first place it is a senseless race. It may give a feeling of triumph for the day without reference to the future, to our children and children's children.   

How can we assure sustainable productivity of our farms ruined by erosion, soil nutrient depletion, water loss due to excessive cultivation? The rule is that,
the more you plant and harvest, the more your farm gets overworked. Declining productivity will result to declining yield of whether GM or non-GM crop. 

We cannot hurry up nature. It needs fallow, it needs to go with the seasons, to complete the natural cycles operating for through eons of time. Destroy the integrity of the Carbon cycle and you will disturb photosynthesis. Nitrogen cycle and you will stunt growth. Phosphorus and fruiting will fail. Potassium and your plants are sickly and weak. Calcium and your soil becomes acidic.  Even minor elements have far reaching consequences. Disturb Iron (Fe) cycle and your plants get anemic (chlorotic).  Manganese, which is a catalyst, and nutrient conversion (inorganic to organic compounds) slows down. Disturb the Water cycle and you will end up with drought.

The farm becomes an orphan, and we need subsidy, a guardian, benefactor.  We need rehabilitation, the cost of which is more than the value of many harvests. Meantime the farm has to recover like a sick person. Where is GM on the rescue.
We asked this question before: Where is modern agriculture on the rescue? When we introduced heavy inputs of commercial fertilizers, pesticides, miracle seeds, (and now GM seeds), coupled with mechanization for large scale production, borrowed money, etc. We shifted from traditional to modern with little innovative transition. 

We pushed the frontiers of agriculture too far out to the sea (mariculture), to the hills (Slope Agriculture), and deep into the forest (agro-forestry). Grossly these proved to be disastrous particularly to nature, to ecology, sustainable productivity. 

Now we are combining modern agriculture with GM agriculture.  GM rides on modern agriculture, the kind millions of farms all over the world failed before. But wait for these scenarios to unfold. GM agriculture with aeroponics (multi-storey urban agriculture), hydroponics (soiless culture) and stem cell farming (laboratory farming of hamburger). All these our Wise Men claim to be agriculture in Postmodern times. 
Would we ask them again like before, "Where were you when we needed you most?." Co


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