The missing gene

What do you do when an endangered species can only survive by eating an endangered plant? This is known as Noah’s Choice.

Okay khao hom (fragrant rice) is not a matter of life and death, but it is quality of life. And that’s why I love stories like the lead in the Bangkok Post this morning. It says a Kasetsart University scientist and his team have discovered and manipulated the fragrance gene
in rice. (Archive here).

In other words, they can make ordinary rice fragrant and more attractive, and they can prolong the fragrance of regular jasmine rice, to make it more saleable, and probably do other neat stuff about rice, too.

I love these stories, and not just for the remarkable, inventive, scientific achievement involved. They create huge dilemmas for the tree-huggers. Are these people really going to oppose gene-manipulation now? Are they really going to prevent more aromatic rice which can make more money for farmers?

Are they really going to press their very silly argument that manipulating the fragrance gene makes rice unsafe? Indications so far are that yes, no matter what the evidence, that is what they will do.

No matter what the politics, let’s give high props and heavy applause for the science being conducted, not just at Kasetsart University, but also right across the Vibhavadi Rangsit Highway by their colleagues at the Princess Chulabhorn Research Institute. These people and others like them truck on and perform remarkable scientific work daily, while the green movement tries to stop them by any means possible including violence. And that is their version of what happened. Love the quote: “We are forced to block the gates…” Forced! Imagine that.

They are whiners, aren’t they? They broke the law and destroyed other peoples’ property but it’s so darned unfair that they have to be held responsible for their actions. Would that be the result of a missing gene?


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