Produce varieties going to the dogs? - The Packer

Produce varieties going to the dogs?

04/12/2013 09:39:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

It’s kind of like mutts tend to be healthy because the parents — maybe a beagle and a Labrador retriever — were only remotely related as dogs.

Compare that to a purebred German shephard, for example, where the offspring have been bred back to the parents or close relatives repeatedly.

The breed has been inbred so much that genetic defects — in this case, hip problems — have been enhanced.

Here’s where it becomes more complicated and sometimes more difficult for consumers to swallow.

Plums and apricots, for example, are members of the same botanical family and can be hybridized, resulting in pluots, plumcots or apriums.

In the dog world, it would be similar to the labradoodle, a cross between a Labrador retriever and a poodle.

Labradors and poodles are still dogs, just not close relatives.

Which brings up the question: Is plant breeding going to the dogs?

What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.

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Arizona  |  April, 12, 2013 at 06:41 PM

Kudos to Vicky Boyd. Plant breeding is not going to the dogs but scientific literacy may be. To spice up the argument about the fungible lines drawn around the "natural and not", GMO whatever labels, one may also want to discuss plant breeder's widespread practice of radiating seeds to induce random mutation.

West Coast  |  April, 12, 2013 at 07:56 PM

Don't forget chemically induced mutagens, one of my faves.

California  |  April, 15, 2013 at 05:41 PM

4/15 the Wall St Journal editorial page has an article on why we need GMOs. The WSJ is copying the thought leadership Vicky Boyd publishes in The Packer

Libba Letton    
April, 16, 2013 at 09:29 AM

Hi, Libba Letton from Whole Foods Market here. Regarding our initiative to label GMOs: to be clear, we will not be asking vendors to label products that have been crossbred through traditional plant breeding methods. Traditional plant breeding methods involve selecting desired traits followed by crossing these traits into existing varieties until the offspring exhibit the desired characteristics. GMOs, also known as genetically engineered or GE organisms, are organisms that have been modified to include the genetic material of another organism. Crossing genes from two different organisms does not happen in nature. In agriculture, GMO plants such as corn or soy are modified to include genes that allow them to survive the application of certain chemical herbicides, or cause the plants to produce pesticides.

Arizona  |  April, 16, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Plants derived from deliberate exposure to gamma rays or chemical mutagens also rarely occur in nature yet, are not required to follow GMO legal protocol. A genetic engineer can use the tools of molecular biology to very arbitrary or precise cut and paste job using gene(s) WITHIN the same specie to create a new plant variety also not required to follow GMO legal protocol even though that level of genetic exchange precision also doesn't occur in nature. Given that at the molecular level the DNA of a grape, a whale and a human are the same and the tools so advanced Imho, focusing on the between species genetic exchange seems like false paradigm on which to base a risk assessment.

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