There is a disease called citrus greening, caused by a bacterium carried by insects, that's making the Florida oranges grow stunted: small and half green, rather than plump and orange. Everything that has been done to control the disease, from pesticides to trying to find a tree that's immune, has failed. The only way to save it, growers believe, is to "alter the oranges DNA with a gene from a different species."
Because oranges themselves are hybrids and most seeds are clones of the mother, new varieties cannot easily be produced by crossbreeding unlike, say, apples, which breeders have remixed into favorites like Fuji and Gala. But the vast majority of oranges in commercial groves are the product of a type of genetic merging that predates the Romans, in which a slender shoot of a favored fruit variety is grafted onto the sturdier roots of other species: lemon, for instance, or sour orange. And a seedless midseason orange recently adopted by Florida growers emerged after breeders bombarded a seedy variety with radiation to disrupt its DNA, a technique for accelerating evolution that has yielded new varieties in dozens of crops, including barley and rice.
Its proponents argue that genetic engineering is one in a continuum of ways humans shape food crops, each of which carries risks: even conventional crossbreeding has occasionally produced toxic varieties of some vegetables. Because making a G.M.O. typically involves adding one or a few genes, each containing instructions for a protein whose function is known, they argue, it is more predictable than traditional methods that involve randomly mixing or mutating many genes of unknown function.
But because it also usually involves taking DNA from the species where it evolved and putting it in another to which it may be only distantly related or turning off genes already present critics of the technology say it represents a new and potentially more hazardous degree of tinkering whose risks are not yet fully understood.
|Ketchupbot + 20th Century Fox Theme on a Flute|
|Radioactive Boars on the Rise in Germany!|
|The Espresso Coffee Battery (Make Your Own!)|
|Fake Name Generator|
|“Are the puppets coming for our jobs?”|
|“Research that could engineer dinosaurs back into existence within the next five to 10 years.”|
|Japanese Robot Serves Ice Cream From Inside a Vending Machine|
|“A man-powered machine that creates scarfs in 5 minutes.”|
|How to Avoid Jury Duty|
|Google Map Shows You the Most Photographed Areas of the World|
|“The only thing worse than assuming that carbon removal will save the day is assuming it will save the day.”|
|The (Very Scary) People of Public Transit|
|“A machine meant to hurl rockets into space.”|
|CaptchaTweet: Write Tweets in Captcha Form|
|What Computers See When They Watch a Movie|