Tag Archives: gene

How NOT to do NaNoWriMo

I’ve just completed a 5-page, 1700 word document that I can’t add to my nano wordcount. But guess what? I’m almost popping with joy. 🙂

The 5-page document is full of URLs and direct quotes copied during my research today. As I didn’t actually write any of it, I can’t claim it for nano, but the information I’ve found has finally answered the monster question that’s been plaguing me since November 1 – how did Bountiful go so very wrong?

For those who’ve never heard of Bountiful, it’s the name I gave to a synthetic food base fed to Refugees in the Innerscape trilogy. It caused terrible cancers and ultimately death before the cause was finally found. It’s also the reason Miira is in Innerscape, and the reason the assassin wants to kill Alex Tang.

I skirted the edges of Bountiful without going into a huge amount of detail about how it did what it did. I figured that information should come out in P7698. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have all those pesky details figured out when I started P7698 for nano. -sigh- Sometimes you really do have to jump in and hope for the best.

Unraveling Bountiful turned out to be a lot harder than expected because I am not a geneticist, not even a teeny bit close. Despite my extreme amateur status, however, I think I’ve finally got it, a possible explanation for why Bountiful was so deadly. It involves a gene called PTEN-L, genetic engineering and lateral gene transfer. And it’s awesome!

I have no idea how much of my research will actually end up in the book, probably very little, but at least what does go in will be possible, even if it’s not likely.

cheers

Meeks

 


GM Apple going on sale in the US

Apples used to be a symbol of health, and healthy eating. Not any more. To give sliced apples a longer shelf life, the Artic Apple has had a gene removed so it doesn’t go brown…perhaps ever:

Is this a case of Nature getting it wrong and man getting it right?

Fruit that is cut or bruised goes brown through a process of oxidisation. According to the dictionary, this means:

‘To combine or cause an element or radical to combine with oxygen or to lose electrons.

Okay, so what’s the big deal?

To be honest, I don’t know. All I know is that most [? all ?] fruit and vegetables exposed to air – i.e. oxygen – do go brown thanks to millions of years worth of natural selection. Natural selection is not the survival of the strongest, it’s the survival of the fittest. So something about the browning of fruit and vegetables when exposed to oxygen is a good thing, because it’s lasted through countless mutations during which a better gene could have taken over. But didn’t. Because it wasn’t a better fit for the environment.

Of course, the browning of all fruit and vegetables when cut or bruised could, possibly, be one of those genes that are simply ‘neutral’ – i.e. it doesn’t have much of an effect either way so it just hangs around. That is a possibility, but then why has it hung around in all of these fruits and vegetables? Surely at least one of them would have done better without this gene?

I mean, think about it. The whole purpose of fruit is to be eaten…so the seeds inside can be carried somewhere else and pooped out. Then, those seeds have a chance of starting a new plant in a new place. That makes sense. So wouldn’t it also make sense to stop the bruised fruit from going brown? Wouldn’t fresh-looking fruit be more appetising to the fruit-eating poopers?

What I know about genetics could fit into a thimble, but commonsense tells me two things:

  1. the fact that natural selection didn’t get rid of the turn-fruit-brown gene means that there was no advantage to doing so,
  2. being able to sell sliced fruit is a terrible reason to genetically modify anything.

Who gains by being able to have apple slices sitting on a shelf for god knows how long?

And why would you even want to have sliced apples for sale?

I mean, seriously, the apple is the original convenience food. All you need to do is bite into it.

Have these Artic Apples been developed for people who have no teeth and have to gum their food?

Or has our obsession with convenience deprived us of all good sense?

Are we truly that lazy??

What’s next? Apple sauce that grows on trees? Don’t even need to chew….

This whole thing would be almost funny if it were not so real. I truly don’t like the future I’m starting to see.

Meeks

p.s. and to add insult to injury, guess who developed this ridiculous apple – our own, Australian C.S.I.R.O. I am so ashamed.


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