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Gene silencing

Why gene tinkering is flawed technology or say not perfect tech? We really don’t have control over micro-epigenetic factors.We can only control macro-epigenetic factors, that too partially (As we cannot control air quality, rain timing etc).

Biotechnology is not bad. Direction is wrong.

Do you use molecular structure report of your kid’s DNA to decide his/her upbringing?
Do you use his/her blood report to identify innate nature and then use it for personality development?
Do you hire geneticist to modify his/her DNA to get desired results?

No. And yet, efforts put in parenting do pay the yield, positively or negatively.

Then why do you need to change genes of the seeds?

“It can be disastrous for a farmer to buy seeds that do not behave in the grow-out the way they were promised by the producer.”

Before we talk about recent paper of gene traits turning silent, let us talk about famous green revolution hero seed. IR8.

IR8 variety of rice. Plants like IR8 succeeded in protecting humanity against global famine and were hailed as part of the “Green Revolution” in agriculture. How, we will see shortly.
In the meantime, however, the yields from IR8 have declined by around 15 percent, and the cultivation of this previously very promising plant is no longer seen as worthwhile.

The dwarf rice variety lacks an enzyme that is required for the production of the plant growth hormone gibberellic acid; without gibberellic acid, the rice plant remains short but strong and high-yielding. Although nothing has changed in the genetic makeup of the IR8 rice plant in the past 50 years, its yields have declined continuously.

Do you want to know the reason why?

Change in environment. Global increase of CO2 made IR8 to produce continuously declined yield. After all, the current concentration of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is 25 percent higher than in the 1960s.
Using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana (generally known as thale cress), the researchers were able to observe that a higher carbon dioxide concentration results in the unblocking of the capacity of dwarf plant to form gibberellic acid. The carbon dioxide appears to have the same growth-stimulating effect as that triggered by the gibberellic acid. Thus, in the experiment, the dwarf plants gradually lost their advantage and increasingly resembled the control plants. [2]

Despite having genes, IR8 is impotent. As I shared in part 1 of the note, it is not gene but the environment (epigenetical factors) that controls the organism)

Apart from CO2 , many factors work. Modern Agri science knows this very well but since they want to do business, they don’t reveal this fact to the world and govt(s).

So when GMO varieties will be introduced, Seller Company will come up with specific environmental conditions to maintain. And to do that, farmers will have to buy their fertilizers and pesticides. In some cases, despite all of this, yield will fail as no one has control over Mother Nature and so company will blame farmers for not following instructions.

[2] http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/160/4/1781


Research


Corn genetics research exposes mechanism behind traits becoming silent

http://news.psu.edu/story/495374/2017/11/21/research/corn-genetics-research-exposes-mechanism-behind-traits-becoming

Research conclude with this

“That is a big setback for anyone trying to breed for traits such as high yield, which is regulated by several genes,” said Chopra. “If one or two of those genes that are essential for high yield become silent, then a reduction in the overall yield may result.”

This is enough for me to realize why GMO is flawed.

If one or more genes that are controlling a trait become silent due to overlapping DNA methylation, then that trait basically disappears from the population.

This researcher believes

“It can be disastrous for a farmer to buy seeds that do not behave in the grow-out the way they were promised by the producer.”

This is so true in case of Bt Cotton in Gujarat!

 

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