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  • Rickinreallife's picture
    Mr. Folta -- I appreciate your answer and had prior to asking the question a layman's understanding that modifying the genetic information of a plant by whatever means, crossbreeding, mutigenisis, transgenic insertion, etc. could potentially alter the plant in unintended ways, and even understand that GE techniques are probably less likely to result in unintended alteration of gene function and expression than other techniques, and we are even more likely to detect any such changes if they do occur through GE development processes and regulation . I also understand that no matter what the method utilized to alter the genetic endowment of plants, breeders are likely to eliminate plants that exhibit undesirable pleiotropic effects in the testing and analysis of plants that occurs prior to marketing and perhaps even prior to submitting for regulatory approval in the case of GE. Thus, if adverse pleiotropic effects did occur, they would probably be abandoned or backcrossed out anyway.

    My question was trying to get at to what extent the regulatory process requires entities to identify and document any such alterations, such as in the comparison of the genome of the ge plant to parent or isolene phenotypes, or in the profiling and analysis of any change in protein expression in the harvested portion of the plant, including any novel proteins or accenting or suppression of familiar proteins. You mention that the tools available to us today enable us to detect unwanted pleiotropic events. Could you desribe what those tools are and how analysis for pleiotropic issues is are used in the regulatory process.

    One of the persistent inferences of those opposed to altering the genetic endowment of plants through genetic engineering techniques is that the the ge process, as opposed to other processes, somehow is like a vampire bite, that although the resultant variety looks and functions similarly, there has been some type of insidious transformation of the nature of the plant into some artificial, zombie like replica of a non ge version. I am not buying that voodoo, but I do concede that some unintended alterations in gene function and regulation (that does not necessarily rely on paranormal explanations) could occur in the GE process. A prominent anti-gmo argument is that nature and genetics is complex beyond current scientific competency to understand, let alone control and thus we are playing the sorcerers apprentice, potentially unleashing unpredictable consequences. I am just looking for confirmation that science is much more capable than opponents would represent, and that the regulatory system utilizes these competencies.
  • Rickinreallife's picture
    Can you define pleitropic effects?
  • Andrew Kniss's picture
    Andrew Kniss
    You also may be interested in this recent review article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23457026

    In a nutshell, herbicide resistance genes can be introduced both by genetic engineering and by conventional breeding techniques. Darmency reviewed the available literature and found that pleiotropic effects were actually more likely to be observed where conventional breeding techniques were used, but could be found in both GE and conventionally bred varieties.
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