Can we ‘build’ a better banana with genetic engineering?

GoldenBananas x

Reproductively, domesticated banana plants are self-copying machines …. With the emergence of the 20th century, the confluence of the Industrial Revolution with plantation agriculture led to the propagation of a single globally favored banana genet (descended from a single instance of sperm-egg fusion) for export from the tropics to waiting markets in the industrial north.

[F]rom farmer to grocer, the whole modern industrial food production and delivery stream depends on predictable uniformity.

[S]ome plant biotechnologists have argued that future crops should follow the banana, dispensing with sex entirely. Specifically, they are titillated by the idea of varieties that replicate the maternal plant via reliably uniform, asexual, apomictic seed. One proposal …. would be to genetically engineer plants to be apomictic ….

Related article:  Clones, enzymes, stem cells and more: Learn these scientific terms to better understand biotech news

[A]sexual seed could be a real boon to farmers—or not. Some scientists see social justice in apomictic seed ….  A clonal crop is genetically very uniform. That’s both the good news and the bad news because, despite its tremendous popularity, the Gros Michel [banana variety] is nearly gone …. because, according to banana geneticist and crop evolutionist N. W. Simmonds, “bananas constitute one of the best examples in the history of agriculture of the pathological perils of monoclone culture.”

[Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt from Sex on the Kitchen Table: The Romance of Plants and Your Food by Norman C. Ellstrand.]

Read full, original article: What’s Wrong with Bananas

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
ft covidresponseus feature

Video: Viewpoint: The US wrote the global playbook on the coronavirus and then ignored it

A year ago, the United States was regarded as the country best prepared for a pandemic. Our government had spent ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend