Scarecrow GM scares me

My fellow blogger Eideard tells us of research into a plant gene called Scarecrow. This is interesting science. But crops whose Scarecrow would be genetically modified (GM) to make them more productive? That idea scares me.

Eideard links to this article by Krishna Ramanujan at Cornell University, where some of the Scarecrow science is happening. Here’s a scientific paper about Scarecrow.

Is this Big Biotech in action? I asked. Well, seemingly not. The research is funded by respectable institutions which are not commercial companies. The National Science Foundation (NSF – I assume it’s the US NSF since Cornell is Stateside) and the US Department of Agriculture.

So this isn’t another Monsanto product… not yet, anyway. But as you know, I’ve no problem about people making money on the land. I do have real concerns about what GM may do on the land. Superweeds, superpests… there are other ways to feed the world. Roger Leakey at Global Food Security wrote a thoughtful article about the ways forward.

I haven’t yet seen any information about the biosafety of Scarecrow-modified crops. Does that information exist? If you find it, do please let me know. Until I see it I’m sticking to my cautious opinion about these GM crops, and other GM crops. Exciting in the lab. Scary in the field.

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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6 Responses to Scarecrow GM scares me

  1. mottledthrush says:

    Reblogged this on MottledThrush and commented:
    The name of the gene….Scarecrow sums it up for me. We shouldn’t be playing God in this way with nature.

    • argylesock says:

      What do you mean about the name Scarecrow? To me that simply refers to traditional bird control like this http://www.scarecrow-bird-control.com/traditional-scarecrows/ I don’t agree with that website’s author either: no Wizard of Oz association for me, just memories of the Cornish childminder who taught me to call a scarecrow a tatty-bogle. She also taught me to swing a wooden toy, with a string and a little weight that made 3 chickens peck.

      So for me, the gene’s name isn’t anything to do with God. But since you mention it, I don’t believe in God and I don’t believe that any human has the right to play the roles given to God.

      I’d be glad to know why the Scarecrow gene makes you think of religion.

  2. eideard says:

    People with Gods probably won’t end up doing much to advance science, anyway. That’s not to be mean. Just a conclusion from being around beaucoup scientists. They’re much more interested at playing at being people who care. Not Gods.

    • argylesock says:

      It’s sad, I think, that you feel that way about scientists. One of the best ecologists I know is a committed Christian. He and I avoid that topic, on which we won’t agree, but he’s great with the numbers in R.

  3. eideard says:

    And then my eyes slid to the right and noticed the British Mule Society.

    If you’re ever in my neck of the prairie – well, a couple hundred miles south and east – you should visit the Greater Muleplex, Muleshoe, Texas. Used to stay there every couple of weeks when I was still on the road. 🙂

    • argylesock says:

      I’d like that. It’s unlikely, because my disability makes travel difficult, but what’s the Greater Muleplex like? Can we see mule pictures online? Anyway, what were you doing ‘on the road’? Therein lies a tale…

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