We might be able to send GMOs to other planets. But is it a good idea?

agricultural avenue fullphoto

First: Could we populate another planet with genetically modified organisms? Second: Should we?

Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Professor of Planetary Habitability and Astrobiology at Technical University Berlin, President of the German Astrobiology Society, and Co-author of The Cosmic Zoo: Complex Life on Many Worlds:

I don’t think we’re there yet, in two senses. We don’t know the environmental conditions of other planets well enough, and we don’t know how to optimally tune the genetic code of an organism to thrive in that extraterrestrial environment. The only planet where I see this as a possibility in the near future is Mars, which we know best of all the planets and moons in our Solar System.

But even if we can do it, I don’t think we should. It would be a very human-centric approach. Instead, we should try to explore the diversity of life that may exist on other planetary targets. In regard to Mars, that would mean exploring whether indigenous (microbial) life exists, and if so, studying how it is different from life on Earth. (Even if there is a common origin, evolution in the different planetary environments would still have resulted in significant organismic changes.)

Related article:  What do toddlers and chimpanzees have in common? They use the same unspoken language
Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

If we encounter a habitable planet—and one which we know for sure is uninhabited—the question becomes harder to answer. We can come to that when the situation arises—which it won’t for a very long time.

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Infographic: The evolutionary history of the COVID-19 coronavirus

Infographic: The evolutionary history of the COVID-19 coronavirus

Reuters analysed over 185,000 genome samples from the Global Initiative on Sharing All influenza Data (GISAID), the largest database of ...

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

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies ...
m hansen

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

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend