Friday, September 24, 2010

transgenic fish

My Dad posted this article from NPR today, and editorial about genetically modified salmon.

I agree with him that the article was well-written but am a little concerned that it won't reach it's target audience. At the beginning of the article he states how poorly most commenters understood the basic science, and many are even "anti-science", but then goes on to discuss promoters and genes, with very little background. Even though I think he does a good job of clearly and concisely describing the technology, I think, for the majority of people, his explanation may still have too much substance without enough background.

For example, to keep some of his substance, it might have been useful to add that genes and promoters are different elements in the genome that work together, with a promoter serving as the "director", telling a gene when to be turned on or off, as well as how much product to produce. Switching promoters can change when and where a gene is expressed. During domestication, we select animals that have accumulated mutations in promoters (and genes) to give the physical qualities we are looking for. With this technology, rather than taking several hundreds or even thousands of years, we can select the sequences we want using tools in a laboratory.

No comments: