QSince Nature has had several million years to modify plants and animals to the most life-sustaining tolerances, on a scale of 1 to 10 what is the level of arrogance required to believe that a non-human entity, ie: corporation, armed with nothing more than

Since Nature has had several million years to modify plants and animals to the most life-sustaining tolerances, on a scale of 1 to 10 what is the level of arrogance required to believe that a non-human entity, ie: corporation, armed with nothing more than money and lawyers and less than 50 year old technology can do better?

AExpert Answer

First off, I should say I disagree with the premise of the question.  Nonhuman entities don’t breed plants and animals for agricultural production.  Humans do―plant breeders, scientists, farmers...and the list goes on.  Does anyone really think if they walk into an agricultural facility that the only things to be found inside will be dollar bills and lawyers?  GMO, conventional or organic plant breeding and research have decades of research and trials behind a product that growers can readily purchase.

 

To the point of whether we can do better than nature, which has spent eons and not mere decades perfecting crops and animals, I would have to say, for the intended purposes, yes, we sometimes can. Without regard to production method, humans have been tailoring crops and animals to their liking for thousands, if not millions, of years. Not every variety or every breed is suited to every situation. I’m pretty sure there aren’t wild herds of Jersey cows running across the fruited plains. 

 

Corn is another example. Corn as we know it does not really exist in nature, yet it is a staple grain across the globe. What everyone recognizes as corn today is the result of thousands of years of selective breeding going back to a plant called teosinte, which barely looks like corn. In more recent history, most corn hybrids have been bred to have upright leaves versus droopy leaves, because upright leaves intercept sunlight better.

 

Norman Borlaug is credited with saving a billion lives or more because of his research with wheat resulting in crosses with high yields and disease resistance. 

 

As for the idea that humans aren’t part of nature, at least not in the way a redwood tree would be viewed as part of nature, I would argue that agriculture itself is not natural. Once you start lining up plants in rows and assisting them in their fight against weeds, pests, bugs and even precipitation, or fence in livestock to shelter them from predators, I don’t think that’s quite the same as hunting and foraging while living in a cave.

 

With GMOs, we aren’t doing things nature doesn’t do already. Herbicide resistance exists in nature. The most obvious example is spraying a lawn with 2,4-D to kill dandelions. The grass doesn’t die. Cereal rye kills weeds with an herbicide of its own creation. Are biotech crops made to express traits they don’t normally have? Yes. Breeders also employ mutagenesis techniques, even in organic crops. The genetic manipulation of the things we grow isn’t limited to biotechnology.

 

I’m inclined to believe it is human nature that keeps driving innovation forward. 

Posted on April 22, 2017
GMO plants, like all other plants, do not “sleep” in the sense that you and I as mammals sleep. However, plants do have natural processes that may be cyclic or seasonal, indicating a cycle or rhythm to their growth and life. This is not technically “sleeping” but let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean.    Some plants have a type of metabolism known as CAM (Crassulacean Acid Metabolism). Plants which have CAM close the pores on their leaves... Read More
Posted on August 15, 2017
  On average, the recent research that has been conducted on GMOs, on a per product basis is calculated to be an average of $130 Million (and 13 years). This is a per product average, so each product that reaches commercialization in a given year would also cost something similar to this value.   Please see below for additional helpful resources: The Cost and time involved in the discovery, development and authorization of a new plant biotechnology derived trait by Phillips... Read More
Posted on February 9, 2017
A species is defined by the ability to reproduce viable offspring, so any two plants within a species generally have the potential to cross pollinate. Like any good successful mating, it requires the union of male and female contributions at the right time, same place. So absolutely, GE crops have the potential to cross with non-GE crops of the same species—if they manage to get it on through time and space.    So the rules that apply to dogs and teenagers also apply to... Read More
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