Our world is in crisis! Only genetic modification (GM, genetic engineering, GE) can save us! Yeah, right.
Dare we hold out against GM? As climates change and terrible weather hits countries around the world, including my own (United Kingdom) we’re sure to hear cries of ‘Get GM!’ As politicians work towards the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) we’re sure to hear cries of ‘Get GM, you timid Europeans!’
I keep an open mind about GM, knowing that it can be useful. I’m gestating a series of posts about useful GM. Most of the examples I’m finding are about medicine. For farming and growing, other kinds of biotech can be useful too, including Marker Assisted Selection (MAS, Marker Assisted Breeding, MAB). Plenty can be achieved with conventional (selective) breeding with or without MAS.
Should we embrace GM? We Europeans don’t like being bullied. We scientists like to use our critical minds. It seems to me quite reasonable to compare ourselves with our American friends, just as I’d compare two sets of samples in an experiment.*
‘Lots of GM’ on one side of the Atlantic. ‘Hardly any GM’ on the other side. I’m not seeing evidence that we Europeans are being left behind.
* The statistician in me says that’s not a good experimental design. No replication! So when we compare North America with Europe, we don’t have anything resembling an experiment in a lab. It’s more like the observational studies that can be done on, say, humans. You can’t experiment on people! But you can look at what happens when people do certain things.