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transgenic chestnuts

Posted by Michael Phillips 
transgenic chestnuts
March 13, 2017 05:56PM
Scores of American chestnut seedlings growing in upstate New York are the vanguard in the restoration of what was once the most dominant tree in the eastern forests. The trees carry one gene, added by scientists, that makes them capable of withstanding the invasive blight that wiped out billions of their ancestors a century ago.

So begins a Science Daily article outlining the differences between a quicker GMO solution to chestnut blight versus carefully back-crossing American chestnuts with Asian genetics. Many questions can be asked. Let's start here: Is genetically altering a "wild tree" to enhance its survival any different from modifying the apple? (I thought about adding 'to keep it from browning' but sometimes silliness is better kept out of a deeper conversation.) Have at it y'all!

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire
Re: transgenic chestnuts
March 14, 2017 08:06AM
Is our scientists learning? Colour me skeptical. Amongst our weaponry are sample size, confidence intervals, p-values, reproducibility…. Drat, I need to go out and start again.

Dogma is our biggest problem. To be fair, we have our own. My personal dissension hinges on time. Scientists experience neither geologic nor even perennial time. That myopia steers research into a lull that if we go a few generations of reproduction without taint, it will go on forever without taint. This is eerily like the pursuit of the peaceful atom, wherein we were promised perpetual clean energy, but instead received a steady stream of relatively easily refined weaponisable radioactives. Again, scientists are not asking the most basic question, "Just because I can, should I?"

Call me an old man on a hill, but I have never been able to shake the skepticism that gene manipulation at the micro-level is too complex to understand in 20, or 30 or even 100 years. In the same sense that it has taken until now, or the creep of GMO approved substances being in the food market for years, for documented cases of GMO incompatibilities to appear, it will take generations for the real effects of these manipulations to become measurable.

Can we say with confidence that altering one point in an algorithm will only effect the calculation of one aspect of genetic disposition? I think it hubris to answer in the affirmative. I also think the possible outcomes to be so distopian that further research is morally and ethically reprehensible. Then there is the discussion that no-one wants to approach.

When the replicant Roy Batty finally gains entrance to Tyrell in his search to turn off the life span limiter in his DNA, he is asked point blank what he wants. The response is, "I want more life, Father!" The father part was dubbed into one of the versions; I thought the original line more vernacular. The point? We all grapple with playing god. However, the sooner we destroy our inherent complex, the better we are to live our lives with less suffering. Ironic is it not, that I gather from most scientists that their drive is legacy based, not holistically founded. Further clouding the subject is that legacy now hinges upon how much money you grant write. There is no glory in finding a harmonic set of organisms that more or less provide with an adequate harvest. Our black and white, flush and forget society wants perfection every day of the year. They want godlike power to consume godlike objects. No longer are we satisfied with our imperfect condition, experience and environment. This will be our downfall.

Lakes Region NH @ 1200' or so
5a?

393 planted towards a 440 goal mixed apple, pear, plum and apricot...
Re: transgenic chestnuts
April 03, 2017 05:22AM
I've been trusting my gut feelings on any and all GMO alterations. Not so good. Let's work with the plant material we already have- plenty of options (and the aren't owned by anyone individual or company). Rudolf Steiner once said "mankind has much developed much knowledge and so little wisdom for using that knowledge"
Re: transgenic chestnuts
May 08, 2017 02:52PM
I agree with the above assessments, particularly Alan's Steiner quote.

I've been reading Holistic Resource Management by Allan Savory the past couple weeks. If you plot both the increase in knowledge and deterioration of the health of our natural systems on a graph together (as he has done in Fig 4.1), you see a direct correlation. I can't see this trend reversing without adopting a holistic approach.

Genetic modification is an allopathic approach and not a holistic approach.

Nick Segner

Wildcat Valley Farm
Zone 8b
Olympic Peninsula Rainshadow
Port Angeles, Washington
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