[NAFEX] GMO and Breeding

Lon J. Rombough lonrom at hevanet.com
Fri Dec 30 20:47:05 EST 2005

	Most people think of genes as discreet units.  They are not.  Each 
gene is composed of many subunits in a particular order.  When that 
gene is read by the enzymes that transcribe it into it's intended 
product, where the enzyme starts and finishes on the gene are important 
to what comes out.  Think of a car riding along a string of beads, with 
the product coming out of the car as it goes along.  If the string is 
damaged, the car hits a roadblock and either can't go on, or jumps the 
damage and produces something with a section missing.  The result is a 
product that may or may not resemble the original product enough to 
function.   To add to this, many genes are in series and need to be 
read in order to produce the final result correctly.  Move a gene and 
you may alter the organism's ability to produce something it needs, or 
worse yet, cause it to produce something it wouldn't ordinarily make.
	Mutation breeding usually makes use of this by altering a single gene, 
by changing a single bead on the gene's "string" but without changing 
much else.  The gene produces a slightly altered product, which, with 
luck, is useful to the organism.  More importantly, the altered gene is 
still in the same place in the series, so the odds of producing a 
really altered product are small.  But mutations generally don't alter 
anything else in the organism, so the plant or animal stays pretty much 
in balance, genetically speaking.
	The difficulty with Genetic Modification is that it doesn't insert 
absolute distinct genes, and they don't simply replace something very 
similar on an established pathway.  There are always bits of extra 
genetic material attached, which are out of place on the chromosome, 
and are apt to be "read" and produce something entirely foreign to the 
organism.  Most often, the result is probably a protein of some sort 
that the plant doesn't recognize, so nothing is done with it, and it 
accumulates in the cell.
	This means that there is a strong likelyhood that GM plants will 
contain proteins of sorts that they have never contained before, and 
which the consumer's metabolism doesn't recognize.  What happens when a 
foreign, unfamiliar, protein is introduced into the body?  One reaction 
is that the body treats it as an invader and reacts to it, forming 
antibodies.  Repeated exposure to the protein may cause the body to 
react strongly to it.  What is another term for this kind of reaction?
	Question.  What condition is increasing in America faster than almost 
any other disease?  Asthma and allergies.

	I'm not saying that GM foods are the cause, but the coincidental rise 
of GM foods with asthma seems worth looking into.
	This is just one small reason why use of GM technology needs a lot 
more study, over a longer period of time.

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