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Wayne Parrott

Professor, Crop Breeding and Genetics, University of Georgia

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Question

Q: What about the ethics of taking over, parasitically, the genetics of another being? If DNA and genetics are anything they are surely proof of each organism and species autonomy and sovereignty in life. It is their road map through the Aeons to who and

Answered By Wayne Parrott - Jun 05, 2015

A: Thank you for your question, which alludes to species integrity and its implications. There is no doubt that until very recently, each species was viewed as genetically unique, or exhibiting "species autonomy or sovereignty in life," as you describe it. However, today's extensive genome sequencing has shown this not to be the case, and gene transfer between species is far more common and extensive than previously thought. For example, all studied crop genomes have DNA from pararetroviruses and florendoviruses in them, so adding genes to plants is really not anything too new or different f [...]

Business Practices GMOs & Farmers

Question

Q: I am interested in research regarding the health effects of the Caulifower mosaic virus promoter. Also, are there tests available to detect its presence in food and water.

Answered By Wayne Parrott - Oct 09, 2015

A: The short answer is no there are no health effects, and yes, there are tests.   For the long answer, it first helps to define what is meant by ‘promoter.’ Genes in general have three parts to them.  The promoter is the first part of the gene, and is equivalent to a switchbox that determines when and where that gene will be making its protein.  The second, or middle part, is the coding sequence, which is the business part of a gene—and in most genes, is where the information needed to make a given protein resides.  The third part, often called the t [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: A student asked about the impact of Bt pollen on streams after reading Genetically Engineered Corn Could Harm Aquatic Ecosystems www.sciencedaily.comreleases200710071008171030.htm Is this a concern?

Answered By Wayne Parrott - Nov 17, 2015

A: Bt is a protein derived from soil-dwelling bacteria. Its use is widespread in both organic agriculture, and genetically engineered agriculture, as it presents many advantages over the use of traditional chemical-based insecticides. Among these advantages is the fact any given type of Bt protein only targets a very limited group of closely related insects, and is harmless to everything else.   The particular report cited in the question is about a 2007 study that claimed that pollen from Bt corn plants was toxic to caddisflies. However, that study had several shortcomings [...]

Answered By Wayne Parrott - Nov 17, 2015

A: Bt is a protein derived from soil-dwelling bacteria. Its use is widespread in both organic agriculture, and genetically engineered agriculture, as it presents many advantages over the use of traditional chemical-based insecticides. Among these advantages is the fact any given type of Bt protein only targets a very limited group of closely related insects, and is harmless to everything else.   The particular report cited in the question is about a 2007 study that claimed that pollen from Bt corn plants was toxic to caddisflies. However, that study had several shortcomings [...]

Environment Crop protectants

Question

Q: A student asked about the impact of Bt pollen on streams after reading Genetically Engineered Corn Could Harm Aquatic Ecosystems www.sciencedaily.comreleases200710071008171030.htm Is this a concern?

Answered By Wayne Parrott - Nov 17, 2015

A: Bt is a protein derived from soil-dwelling bacteria. Its use is widespread in both organic agriculture, and genetically engineered agriculture, as it presents many advantages over the use of traditional chemical-based insecticides. Among these advantages is the fact any given type of Bt protein only targets a very limited group of closely related insects, and is harmless to everything else.   The particular report cited in the question is about a 2007 study that claimed that pollen from Bt corn plants was toxic to caddisflies. However, that study had several shortcomings [...]

Answered By Wayne Parrott - Nov 17, 2015

A: Bt is a protein derived from soil-dwelling bacteria. Its use is widespread in both organic agriculture, and genetically engineered agriculture, as it presents many advantages over the use of traditional chemical-based insecticides. Among these advantages is the fact any given type of Bt protein only targets a very limited group of closely related insects, and is harmless to everything else.   The particular report cited in the question is about a 2007 study that claimed that pollen from Bt corn plants was toxic to caddisflies. However, that study had several shortcomings [...]

Environment Crop protectants

Question

Q: How long does it take for fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to break down in the soil or do these chemicals stay in the soil indefinitely?

Answered By Wayne Parrott - Apr 01, 2016

A: Pesticides such as herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides vary in the amount of time they break down in the environment by the specific pesticide, the rate applied, and environmental conditions. We measure how long pesticides persist in the environment by a measure called half-life or how long it takes the original material to be reduced by 50%. Under most situations we would encounter in an agricultural setting, a pesticide half-life can range from a few hours to 4-5 years. Most pesticides are broken down by microbes in the soil, so environmental conditions that reduce microbial activity ( [...]

Environment Crop protectants

Question

Q: Can gmos cause the plant to change color?

Answered By Wayne Parrott - Jul 20, 2018

A: Yes, but only on purpose. Folks may have seen ornamental plants that have red or purple foliage. It is possible to copy this natural phenomenon into other plants using GMO technology. Other than that, the simple act of making a plant a GMO should not change its color.   [...]

GMO Basics

Question

Q: What if GMO plants evolve into a negative outcome?

Answered By Wayne Parrott - Apr 12, 2018

A: Anyone who has traveled through the Southeast and seen kudzu vines along the highway knows that plants can evolve into a negative outcome. There is a similar concern that a GMO can produce negative outcomes in the environment.  Therefore, prior to approving their commercial planting, GMOs must be tested in contained field trials to ensure that they do not behave in ways that could cause problems. To prevent negative outcomes, GMOs must not have the ability to cross with wild relatives, show weedy tendencies, or the ability to harm wildlife, among other criteria. The issue get [...]

Environment