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Dartmouth research: The clocks are ticking and the climate is changing
Date:11/16/2012

crosses would preserve the "tomato-ness" while selectively retaining that little bit from the wild relative that resists tomato-eating bugs.

"Along with introducing the gene or set of genes encoding resistance, we may have also brought in a whole bunch of other ill-defined genes on either side," McClung says. "We don't know the extent of it. We don't know what else is in there. While some regard this as a 'natural' approach, the unknown genetic fellow travelers could be problematic or even dangerous."

For more than 20 years, we have possessed the technology to precisely insert a single gene, making one change and only one change, producing what is known as recombinant DNA. "We are modifying genes in a much more informed way and precise way, targeting specific genes and manipulating those," he says.

"Nevertheless, there is vocal opposition to this practice, in spite of the fact that we have been doing it for decades and there is yet to be a single example of anything bad happening from that," says McClung. "It is a philosophical standpoint based on a lack of understanding. People don't understand the science and they come up with a lot of arguments against it."

The dilemma rests on timing. Conventional breeding, though imprecise and unpredictable, is a workable but lengthy process. Recombinant DNA is fast. In a world beset by overpopulation, famine and global climate change, McClung questions whether we can really afford the time to wait.


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Contact: Amy Olson
amy.d.olson@dartmouth.edu
603-646-3274
Dartmouth College
Source:Eurekalert  

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