Web edition: September 7, 2004
Print edition: September 11, 2004; Vol.166 #11
I am wondering why the subject of genetically modified crops didn't enter the discussion of diminishing plant diversity in this article. When genes from bacteria, insects, and other totally unrelated organisms are inserted into the genome of a plant, we have no idea what effect this will have on plant diversity and survival. The effect on other organisms, such as pollinators, is even less well known. Why should we take these risks if, as stated in your article, "synthetic bread wheats" produced by crossing existing banked seeds produce offspring that are "about as diverse as the original landraces" and give "yields similar to the best commercial yields today"? Another subject that was not touched on in this article, but that demands closer scrutiny, is the "planned sterility" of food crops that will not produce viable seed.
Steven L. Lagos
San Diego, Calif.