Genetic engineering takes fields

1987/10/01 Juandaburre, B. Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

The bacteria manipulated in the laboratory have just spread in California. This is the first time these sessions are held. In the environment, of course, the debate arises.

On April 24, at 6.30 in the morning, and under the strict surveillance of officials of the U.S. environmental agency, the first bacteria manipulated by laboratory genetic engineering have been spread in a field of strawberries. To be able to deploy this product, called Frostban, there has been a legal struggle of four years until getting the necessary permits.

A few years ago the AGS association, which commercializes these bacteria, acquired the rights of these bacteria prepared at the University of Berkeley. In the section on plant pathology, Dr. Steven Lindow discovered in 1974 that the bacteria Pseudomonas syringae and Pseudomonas fluorences were responsible for the early freezing of plants.

This is the photo of the historical moment. They are fumigating Frostban.

These pseudomonas, which live on the surface of the plants, pass to the surface of the plant through the wounds that the plant has. When the cold ones arrive, through a gel produced by these bacteria, they cause the freezing of the plant when the temperature is -1 or -2°C. Dr. Lindow identified the person responsible for this early freezing: a gene that prescribed the formation of a protein on the surface of the bacteria. This protein catalyzes the formation of ice.

The next step was to create a mutant gene that did not produce ice cream and so it was done and was achieved. The use of this mutant reduces the freezing temperature to -6/-7°C. However, to know if these mutant bacteria are really useful, the trials in the fields are absolutely necessary. It must be seen if the bacterium adapts to nature, exceeds competition, etc. On the other hand, it has been shown that the bacteria is harmless during laboratory sessions.

The liberation in the nature of the genetic material manipulated in the laboratory is not something that can be done quickly. The first point to observe is that of the safety of this matter, for which rigorous and hard tests should be put. Frostban has overcome them. More than 200 different tests have been conducted. Then, of course, there is the philosophical/moral part of the problem, that to begin like this can lead us or to do it only depends on God...

There has been a long legal struggle in the U.S. courts to achieve the spread of bacteria and opponents have taken advantage of all legal instances to avoid expansion. Some have not stayed there and the radical ecological group Earth first put upside down all the fumigades strawberry plants.

This was the first session. Others such as those that will be used as insecticides or mutant rhizobium that will significantly increase nitrogen fixation. By when?

Gai honi buruzko eduki gehiago

Elhuyarrek garatutako teknologia