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Genetically Modified PlanetEnvironmental Impacts of Genetically Engineered Plants$
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C. Neal Stewart

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195157451

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195157451.001.0001

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Crops and Weeds

Crops and Weeds

It's Hard to Be a Wild Thing When You're Domesticated

(p.11) 2 Crops and Weeds
Genetically Modified Planet

C. Neal Stewart

Oxford University Press

There is a trend towards embracing nature and the acceptance of natural products, even though humans have altered virtually everything. A case in point is food and food crops. No natural human food exists except wild game and a few undomesticated plants. There has never been natural corn or wheat, and many vegetable crops such as carrots and Brussel sprouts are recent inventions of crop domestication. Transgenic crops seem transformative since they possess one or two genes from a different species. The process of gene introduction takes place in the lab using biotechnology, but traditional breeding and domestication drastically alter genomes of plants relative to biotechnology, since hundreds to thousands of genes are manipulated in hybridization. Like those of crops, genomes of weeds are also selected and adapted for growth in farmer’s fields. Human and natural selection are powerful forces.

Keywords:   biotechnology, breeding, crop domestication, genomes, natural selection, nature, weeds

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