Re: horizontal gene transfer...some implications

Posted by Southern Man on Jul 03, 2002 at 09:13

Re: horizontal gene transfer...some implications (anyman)

“It is also interesting to speculate what the legal fireworks would be like if one GM company's patented genes turned up in another company's seed stock.”

Having some small experience in this area I would think this would be an open and shut case. The company with the contaminated stock would be at fault. Great care is taken with seed stocks to ensure purity. To a layman the care taken seems almost religious. When changing from one hybrid to another the processing equipment is completely shut down and “kernel cleaned”. This means all access panels are removed and people enter the equipment and crawl down all of the conveyor belts on hands and knees removing every seed or piece of seed. The equipment is then resealed, turned on with no feed stock and operated for several minutes. It is then shut down again and the process is repeated. Once all the seed has been removed from the equipment the floors are swept and vacuumed before new seed is allowed into the processing area. It can take most of a day to clean the equipment in preparation to run a different hybrid. Similar care is taken in the fields to ensure that no unintentional cross-pollination occurs. If a gene was found in another company’s seed it would be as if your wife was found in my bed even though I took great pains to ensure the house was securely locked.

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