Some interesting ideas on just what genetically modified means are discussed by Michael Byrne in the context of hybrid blueberry trees, at Motherboard:
Blueberries grow on bushes. Whatever. I don’t care if they grow on bushes or on trees or underground or are skimmed from the surface of fetid water, but bushes are what most of us would consider natural or “as intended” by the naturalness of evolution, which is the mostnatural thing. That’s the ideological pole of the post-science green movement, an appeal to naturalness uber alles or naturalness as crippled “other” to technology’s absolute disruption of a greater Way Things Should Be. And so we have blueberry bushes because … evolution made them that way. So: natural.
Lost on most of the ideological green movement (the one that loathes/fears radiation and biotechnology more than mountaintop removal or forest clear-cutting) is the basic property of evolution as being based on failure and slight success. Evolution has yet to create an ideal anything or even, empirically speaking, a very good anything, no matter how much it can look like it from the lofty perch of technological homo sampiens. Viruses are pretty great, and cockroaches. We manipulate electricity. Humanity is the lofty perch that enables the perspective of evolution as a miracle machine delivering awesome final products that are in near supernatural harmony with other things, rather than competition with them.
t’s that perspective that allows us to look at the blueberry bush in situ as the most excellent and chosen blueberry bush rather than the result of a whole bunch of random mutations that’s just getting by. The latter is more accurate in terms of evolutionary history/principle and it should shade how we view the direct human influence on the properties of that blueberry bush. (We’d like to imagine that blueberry bush as having arrived to this place now unaided, but the truth of that is for another post.) Now, thanks to research underway at Oregon State University, we are presented with a blueberry tree. Blueberries are going for the sky. The tree was not created via modification at the genetic level, either by adding or silencing parts of genes, but via a technique commonly used in hybridization programs for trees: root grafting…
[continues at at Motherboard]
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