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environment | genetic engineering

Genetic Engineers in Germany Destroy Dandelion

Genetic engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology have created a mutated form of the dandelion that contains 500 times more latex than the naturally occurring variety, as well as producing high amounts of artificial sweetener. This will have terrible effects as one of the most useful edible and medicinal plants becomes genetically contaminated by the the toxic and inedible mutant.
The dandelion is a beautiful plant which is very beneficial to soil health; it is also one of the most useful edible and medicinal plants. The highly nutritious greens and flowers can be eaten raw in salads, or cooked. According to the USDA, a serving of uncooked dandelion leaves contains 280 percent of an adult's daily requirement of beta carotene as well as more than half the requirement of vitamin C. Dandelions are also rich in vitamin A. The roots make a delicious coffee substitute when roasted or can be boiled for 20-30 minutes for munching. The flowers can be used to make a delicious wine. The raw roots can be used as a mild laxative and diuretic, and the greens are known to help detoxify blood and stimulate the liver. Many other animals also eat dandelion -- it's an extremely important wildlife food.

Genetic engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology have recently created a mutant variety of the dandelion, which will create 500 times as much latex in it's sap so that they can use it to make rubber. Unfortunately, this will render the plant inedible, or at least extremely unpalatable -- and possibly toxic. It is also being engineered to create high levels of inulin, an artificial sweetener.

When this mutated variety is released into the wild, it cross-pollinates with natural varieties. Dandelions, due to the nature of their wind-carried seeds and ability to thrive in damaged ecosystems, rapidly spread over wide areas with genes from remote populations regularly intermingling. This mutant variety will quickly infect the entire planet with it's toxic genes, rendering a plant that has been used by humans and animals for thousands of years into an inedible rubber factory. The earth will permanently loose one of it's most magnificent species, so that we can have cheap rubber gloves and condoms, satisfying the greed of a few short-sighted agribusiness executives.

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Please do better research 17.Dec.2009 05:45

Mike Novack

It is a sad reality, but when writing a polemic piece and you have by mistake included a glaring untruth your opponents will use that to cast doubt on your entire piece.

"It is also being engineered to create high levels of inulin, an artificial sweetener."

An ARTIFICAL sweetener? What ever gave you that idea. Just because you didn't recognize the name of this complex sugar and know that it is uncommon (and that OK for diabetics) you assumed artificial? I suggest you look up this substance, paying particular attention to what plants DO produce it in great quantity. Once you have done that you should have questions about WHY they would be bothering to engineer another source of the stuff. Dandelions may be tough, invasive, all too easy to grow (and hard to eradicate once estanblished) but the same is true for the "Jerusalem artichoke".

RE: Please do better research 17.Dec.2009 20:21

Jesse R. Taylor jrtayloriv@gmail.com

You make a good point Mike, and I should have done better research on that before posting -- I was in a rush and made a mistake. Thanks for pointing it out -- I'll be more careful in the future on such things.

Anyway, the inulin is not really important relative to the rest of the article. The important part is that 500 times as much latex will be produced, probably rendering it inedible (and with unknown health effects), and that it will interbreed with wild populations.