Smart Breeding Holds Promise of Replacing GM Foods
Imagine a technology that can produce all the benefits of biotech crops — resistance to pests and pesticides, long shelf life, rapid (or delayed) ripening, etc. — without the worries about environmental harm, corporate consolidation, and international trade wars. Some researchers believe they have discovered — or rather, rediscovered — just such a science. It harkens back to centuries-old methods of cross-breeding and hybridization and adds a new twist from contemporary genomics. Scientists are now able to map the genetic code of crops, analyze the gene markers for various traits, and quickly breed several generations of a crop in laboratory cultures, thereby doing in a short time what once took decades. It’s called “smart breeding” and it’s producing crops called “super organics.” Some researchers hope to turn smart breeding into the equivalent of the open-source movement in software, putting info about plants into the public domain for free use.