Terminator Genes - Keep You From Breeding Your Plants

I have talked about breeding plants, but did you know that it is now possible for corporations with biotechnology to insert genes into plants that will enable them to kill any seeds you get from breeding.  By inserting three genes into a plant Monsanto, and any other large corporation can effectively force you to buy seeds from them forever.  The art of breeding and crossing new varieties, something that human cultures have done for… well since we started cultivating plants 10,000 years before present (YBP) would be gone forever into the world of corporate profits.

How does this terminator technology work? Well, one example would be to insert three genes into a plant so that it can be sterilized at any time in the breeding program. First insert a gene into the plant that produces a toxin that kills the seedling as it begins to germinate. To keep this gene off (so it does not make the toxin), a section of DNA called a security wall is placed between the toxic gene and the gene that regulates it being on and off (sorry this is complicated stuff stick with me here). A second gene called a scissor gene is also inserted into the plant; this makes an enzyme (called recombinase) that cuts out the security wall turning the toxin gene on. A third gene makes a protein that represses the scissor gene (keeps it from making recombinase). Now as long as this third gene is active, the plant can reproduce normally. If however the third gene is activated by some chemical, say an antibiotic then as the seed grows it will release the scissors gene in all its cells including one's that form the seeds so that seeds from that plant will never germinate, thus ending the breeding line. By inserting this terminator gene group into breeding lines, the companies can continue to breed their plants, and they simply have to spray the seeds they sell with the antibiotic before the sell them guaranteeing that no one can grow a plant without getting new seeds from them.  This is sort of like a time bomb, you insert the terminator genes and breed away until you get a variety you want to sell, and then you spray the seeds with a chemical so that once the seeds grow the terminator genes are on. You will still be able to clone a plant with the terminator genes, but as I said cloned plants keep track of time so after a few generations you often see a decrease in plant growth and vigor.

This is not going on now, that I know of, but it is not science fiction either my friends. There have been court battles about this so it is possible that the terminator genes can be marketed, and theoretically could be put into any plant species.

To me, this is just another reason to support small local growers/breeders and to breed yourself, keep the plants in the hands of humans, not controlled by corporations
Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers

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