Thursday, March 7, 2013

Grafting vs. Genetic Engineering

[Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes]
[Mood: Questioning]

Grafting is working with nature and Genetic Engineering (GE) is messing with nature.

Grafting is asking nature to do something for us and letting it decide what it will do or how much it will do and when it will do it. We're working with it. We're patient. It takes years, sometimes dozens of years or even hundreds of years to get what we want. And nature obliges. It wants us to have what we want but not before other living organisms and bio systems realize that changes are coming and have time to adapt to such changes themselves.

GE is forcing nature to do something for us, when WE want (usually now) and how much WE want. We want it to do something it would otherwise never do. Nature would never cross a fish with a strawberry. But we try to get it to do that unnatural act anyway. And nature responds with major negative side effects. Not only is that organism at risk (the entire species) but every species that consumes that genetically engineered species is.

Technically, grafting doesn't need much technology. It's been done for thousands of years. GE needs a lot of modern technology. They take a gene gun which is not that different from a regular gun but takes genes in place of bullets. They then shoot the gene into another plant or animal and expect the gene transfer to happen. We have no idea how it exactly works but seems to work a bit anyway. But a lot of things also go wrong when you shoot a foreign gene into another organism. The negative effects are not immediate so we move on merrily congratulating ourselves on our cleverness and ingenuity. A strawberry with a cold water fish gene blasted into it survives frost better and leads to higher yields initially. The fruits that are genetically engineered to have a longer shelf life stay fresher while being transported across the country but people who eat such fruits are taking a big hit to their long term health. The industry covers up these facts and we go on with our lives as we always have. Is tomorrow going to be any different than today?

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