"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

Aug 31, 2007

Useful Mutants

Published: August 28, 2007 -NYTimes

VIENNA — Pierre Lagoda pulled a small container from his pocket and spilled the contents onto his desk. Four tiny dice rolled to a stop.

Photo illustration by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Pierre Lagoda, the head of plant breeding and genetics at the International Atomic Energy Agency, showing mutated plants at a greenhouse in Austria.

“That’s what nature does,” Dr. Lagoda said. The random results of the dice, he explained, illustrate how spontaneous mutations create the genetic diversity that drives evolution and selective breeding.

He rolled the dice again. This time, he was mimicking what he and his colleagues have been doing quietly around the globe for more than a half-century — using radiation to scramble the genetic material in crops, a process that has produced valuable mutants like red grapefruit, disease-resistant cocoa and premium barley for Scotch whiskey.

“I’m doing the same thing,” he said, still toying with the dice. “I’m not doing anything different from what nature does. I’m not using anything that was not in the genetic material itself.”

2 Comments:

At 3:50 PM , Blogger trog69 said...

My physical Sci. teacher in HS would point out the "all-natural" on food and other packages. "Natural? As opposed to what? Some other universe?"

 
At 5:40 PM , Anonymous Indigus said...

Trog- Natural ingredients, as opposed to synthetic or processed.

But even a declaration of 'natural' is misleading in terms of food ingredients in the USA. For instance, the use of msg is hidden behind the label 'natural flavors', etc.

All due respect, your 'physical Sci. teacher' is a moron. Should know better.

 

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