Nature Out Smarts GMO Squash

30 Oct

Scientists at Penn State conducted a three year experiment to determine how a new GMO squash stacked up against a wildtype squash. The results of this experiment were very interesting. The GMO squash is resistant to three different types of viral infections. However, over the three year experiment it did not out-perform the wildtype.

The GMO squash was more susceptible to a bacterial infection caused by cucumber beetles. The beetles carry the bacteria. When the beetles feed on the leaves they create cuts in the leaves, which make the plant more susceptible to infection, much like a cut on your skin. Then the beetle leaves feces, containing the bacteria on the leaves, near the open wounds, as a result the plants get sick.

The reason the GMO squash did better, was because they started off healthier, since they were resistant to the three common viruses that squash plant encounter. The beetles are able to determine which plants are healthier and they feed on those plants. Since the GMO plants did not get sick from the viruses the beetles spent more time feeding on them. As a result they were more likely to get sick from the bacteria.

The balance of nature never ceases to amaze me. I would never have expected the virus to actually protect the plants that were able to survive it. The plants that are strong enough to survive a viral attack now have a type of immunity (not complete immunity) from the cucumber beetles and the bacteria that they carry.

Once again, nature has proven to be much more logical and complicated than humans ever expected. We are not able to see all of the consequences of our actions.

And once again, GMO plants cannot be the silver bullet to solving our food concerns for the growing human population.

To read the full article, visit Penn State University.

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Posted by on October 30, 2009 in food, Sustainable Agriculture


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