What IF?
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What IF?

How GMOs can save civilization (and probably already have)

A Guest Post By Dr. Michael Eisen, Ph.D., Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley

A Long History of Genetic Modification

Humans first began collecting and growing edible grains, fruits and roots, and corralling wild animals for meat, milk, and material goods thousands of years ago. Ever since, we have been shaping these plants and animals to meet our needs and desires. Compare corn to its ancestor, teosinte, cattle to the aurochs from which they were derived — or any other crops and livestock on which we rely to their wild relatives — and you’ll find the remarkable story of human agriculture and the transformative power of artificial selection.

From Random to Controlled Genetic Modification

Creating novel genomes by deliberate selective breeding is an ancient human endeavor, but recent advances in molecular biology have made the process more precise, focused, predictable, effective and safe.

Engineered Microbes in Medicine and Food

Although modern genetic modification for industrial (as opposed to research) uses is best known in crop plants, it began in microbes where it almost immediately made transformative, life-saving contributions to medicine.

From Cheese to Meat

Several years ago, Impossible Foods, a company I have been advising since it was launched, faced a similar challenge. Impossible Foods was founded to address climate change by eliminating the need for animal agriculture, the most environmentally destructive human activity and a major source of the greenhouse gases that drive global warming. Their mission is to replace animals as a food technology by identifying ingredients from plants that can be used to recreate the complex textures, flavors and appearance of meat, fish, dairy, eggs and other foods we traditionally get from animals.

Genetic Engineering for a Healthy Planet

Although I believe that most fears of existing GMOs are misplaced, I understand that people have questions and concerns about GMOs. New tools that make the process more efficient and precise also make it more powerful. And even to scientists like me who manipulate DNA every day, there is something awe-inspiring about our ability to engineer life.

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