Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:29 am

Will,

take it easy. I agree with you, read my previous posts.

The last part of my answer deals with Dorothy's remark - "There are folks who do not consider a cultivated tree a true bonsai. If it is not a yamadori, it is no true bonsai, so to speak."

I respond - "Lastly, Bonsai is a hobby, you can do anything you want to do, only when you invite opinions does it change [ and even then if you don't want to listen, folk will figure it out and leave you alone, so you are back to step one,] or when you start to sell.

So who cares if it is a real Bonsai ?"

Apologies for being unclear.
Khaimraj


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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Guest on Sun Dec 19, 2010 2:04 am

Maybe this is the problem Khaimraj. I along with others here, are not fully understanding what you are saying. If you are playing devils advocate, fair enough, but sometimes you change track in your posts without explanation.

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Guest on Sun Dec 19, 2010 2:10 am

I want to have several of those GM trees someday.
I'm not planning to eat them or put the excess foliage in my salad any way.
Very Happy Very Happy Wink alien

regards,
jun Smile

GM-General Motors
trees coming out of the production line in Chicago or Detroit----nice!


Last edited by jun on Sun Dec 19, 2010 2:15 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Guest on Sun Dec 19, 2010 2:12 am

jun wrote:I want to have several of those GM trees someday.
I'm not planning to eat them or put the excess foliage in my salad any way.
Very Happy Very Happy Wink alien

regards,
jun Smile

GM-General Motors
trees coming out of the production line in Chicago----nice!

No need for you to start Jun.

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Guest on Sun Dec 19, 2010 2:19 am

...still I want to have some of those GM trees. nice to have science competing with patience and art...at least in my yard.
...still I won't eat them.

regards,
jun Laughing

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:22 am

Will,

I shall make an attempt to be more clear in future.
Khaimraj


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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Rob Kempinski on Sun Dec 19, 2010 4:39 am

dorothy7774 wrote:You want to make a case against perfection? What happens when one finds an extra small leaved specimen with extra short internodes? Don’t we all try to reproduce and hold on to this specimen via cuttings, air layering etc.?
Genetic engineering seems more intrusive, more sinister than other ways of enhancing tree quality (grafting, fusing, adding jins, creating shari etc.). Truth is, from a moral point of view the difference is less significant than it seems. There are folks who do not consider a cultivated tree a true bonsai. If it is not a yamadori, it is no true bonsai, so to speak. There are folks who do consider wiring a major manipulation of the tree, they will clip and grow the material and achieve amazing results. If you think about it, the result accomplished by wiring a tree will not occur in nature. Most bonsaiists will not accuse you of trespassing nature when applying wire to a tree. Genetic engineering, although a step further than enhancing, is a manipulation of an organism's or a plant’s genetic material in a way that does not occur under natural conditions.
It is the individual bonsai grower or bonsai artist who decides how far to ethically carry bonsai design and bonsai enhancement. Genetic engineering on trees as Rob has suggested is scientifically speaking a wonderful way of experimenting. However, genetic engineering usually focuses on problem solving and functionality, on health and environment. In how far genetic engineering on trees would hypothetically support the concept of environmental health or progress is questionable. Genetic engineering will destroy individualism and become more of a fashion. Trespassing nature will always ask for a price to be paid. If genetic engineering on bonsai means to define the boundaries of perfection (more pests, other pests, slower growth, and faster growth) one will still have to keep up the research long time after the tree has been genetically enhanced. Maybe a bit too much involvement that does not necessarily rectify the modification.
And besides, if we just wait long enough, climate changes will eventually alternate growth patterns and speed up the capability of trees to adjust to conditions (hopefully). If we genetically enhance our trees right now, we might be one state too late..speaking Floridian here;)

-dorothy

Excellent points Dorothy.

Change is inevitable. I don't know about you but I don't clamor for the ice age again. Yet think about what would happen to the native trees in the UK if the Gulf Stream were to divert just a few degrees.

As humans learn more about the genome and how to use them, the applications will be beyond what we can fathom.
I agree, fear is a good thing, it will try to keep the progress in check, but even if it runs amok, those that adapt to the change will thrive and those that don't won't.

Bonsai applications of genetic engineering pale in comparison to what has already been done and will be done.


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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Ravi Kiran on Sun Dec 19, 2010 8:45 am

This one surely has been a very spirited and hotly debated thread in recent times. This makes treading the minefield that much more difficult. But nevertheless here goes…

There was a mention of Bhopal in this thread …. Coming from the country where Bhopal is a city got me thinking. Here are my thoughts….

After the Methyl-iso-cyanide gas leak, Union Carbide’s factory in Bhopal was shut for good. However has Union Carbide shut all of its factories world wide?? Or have Union carbide’s competitors shut their factories as they manufactured similar products and hence posed similar risks??
After Krusk – the nuclear powered Russian Sub sank, have all nuclear powered Subs (Russian or otherwise) been abandoned???
After Chernobyl – have all Nuclear reactors worldwide been deemed unsafe and shut down??
After the unsinkable Titanic sank on its maiden voyage, have cruise liners been abandoned???
After 9/11 have we stopped living or working in high rise buildings as they can be potential terrorist targets???
Again after 9/11 have we stopped flying, as airplanes now can become WMDs (weapons of mass destruction)
For fear of accidents have we stopped driving cars or using railroads (or railways as they are known this part of the world)
What would have happened if Thomas Alva Edison gave up before trying Tungsten for a Bulb filament because he made way too many mistakes.

I can go on and on …. But I guess the picture is clear.

Failure has been an integral part of learning for mankind through the ages and will continue to help man in rectifying such mistakes. One quote which was the title of an article which appeared in the Readers’ Digest Magazine many years ago goes like this “DO YOU RISK ENOUGH TO SUCCEED” This thought continues to inspire me in my professional journey even today.

Wish to conclude by saying that every car has a rear view mirror. If however we focus ONLY on the rear view mirror, then our journey forward will be …….. and Oh I almost forgot to mention the phrase “Genetic Engineering” so far in this article Very Happy

Ravi

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Brett Summers on Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:10 am

Glad you brought this up Rob. A few years ago I was shown an article about genetically dwarfed trees. I found it really interesting but was unable to find it on the internet agian until today.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070618134342.htm
I recently watched a great documentary that went over many aspects of the genetically modified debate. I found it a very open minded discussion of the subject. They covered everything from relating it to selective breeding and cross pollination that we have always done since becoming farmers. Some of the changes we have acomplished in our food they showed where downright unbelievable. To the tomatoes crossed with berries to give all the health benefits dark berries contain and the yellow rice that could save(friggin heaps of) lives in third world countries where people die from a lack of vitamin C but both may never be released because of the regulations. The Amish that reject all modern technology but have embraced genetically modified crops. How America's farms are now mostly genetically modified crops and the world no longer has any idea what it is eating on to the scary experiment that fed rats nothing but genetically modified food and they grew hair on the inside of their mouth. affraid
After watching all this I had to agree with the conclusion of the presenter. We can not ignore the possibilities that genetically modified food offers but we also must be very careful.
We can't get on our high horse shouting never. We need to learn more.


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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Guest on Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:47 am

...with the growing population of our country going out of control and with most our flat lands suited for growing rice converted into residential areas and with the limited land area of our country. sooner than we might have perceived we will probably run out of sufficient rice which is our main source of food. Importing rice will not be sufficient in the near future because other countries in the region will probably face the same problem soon. The Philippines (International Rice Research Institute) is the pioneer in rice research in Asia and probably one of the pioneer in GM rice, with out this research and new discoveries in the field of GE we would probably be starving to death at this point.(though some of our countrymen are)...So if somebody would ask a common poor Filipino of his take on the matter, and let him choose between what is environmentally righteous and having his family starved to death, I think I can bet all my bonsai on what his answer might be.

regards,
jun study

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  fiona on Sun Dec 19, 2010 11:46 am

Brett Summers wrote: We cannot ignore the possibilities that genetically modified food offers but we also must be very careful. We can't get on our high horse shouting never. We need to learn more.

There have been many interesting points made here - some about genetic enginnering of bonsai, others about GE/GM in general. Brett's point sums it up for most people. I would add another consideration to the mix. Ravi's excellent post mentions events such as Bhopal and acts of terrorism before posing the question "What would have happened if Thomas Alva Edison gave up before trying Tungsten for a Bulb filament because he made way too many mistakes." I see a world of a difference between the former two examples and the latter. It has been humankind's nature to experiment and invent - we would not have survived our early years as a species otherwise and very many aspects of the things we take for granted as necessities of modern life (electricity etc) would not exist had we not continued our inventiveness throughout our life as a species. Edison falls into the camp of humankind's natural inventiveness, and few would doubt that he produced something that has enormously benefited us.

As did, in some way, the other products in Ravi's list. But the main difference - and the main danger as I see it - is not the products themselves but the manner in which they are used and more importantly the motive and actions of the people using them. In the case of Bhopal, systems that should have been safe were compromised through negligence and the desire to save money - acts of humans, and ones with disastrous consequences which are still being felt 25 years later. Aircraft are not WMD except when used as such by humans. A bag of fertiliser is not a bomb until turned into one by humans.

Brett is right to say that the successes of GE food make it worth continuing. As long as the research continues into long-term ill-effect and as long as it is not just being used as a way of making money for this company or another. The realisation that we do have the capacity to create Bob's monster coming over the hill should in a sane world be enough to ensure we build in the necessary checks and balances. But we clearly don't live in a sane world and the fear that accompanies the whole issue of GE can be justified on that fact alone.

The bottom line is that anything, irrespective of how beneficial it otherwise is, when in the wrong hands has the potential to cause harm - sometimes on an immense scale. I would like to see a continuation of our experimentation with GE as the potential benefits are many. But like Jim, I have a fair degree of scepticism first that the levels of controls are/will be appropriate (and applied), and second that it's not just all going to be to help a few major companies get richer even quicker.

As a road user I see it as a major plus to be able to read the road ahead of me to see where the dangers lie. A rear view mirror also lets us look back and see if the dangers of what is behind us are about to catch up on us. As the sign says: proceed with caution.






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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  fiona on Sun Dec 19, 2010 11:50 am

Or maybe Joni Mitchell was right all along:

"Farmer farmer, put away your DDT. Give me spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees"


Don't it always seem to go.

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  bobby little on Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:15 pm

fiona wrote:Or maybe Joni Mitchell was right all along:

"Farmer farmer, put away your DDT. Give me spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees"


Don't it always seem to go.


Very Happy

some folks seem to have taken the bit about dominion over the beasts and the land or whatever is said a tad literally. I lack skill in bonsai but it seems to me the point is to work in harmony with the products of nature. Anything else becomes sterile and clinical. Not my thang.

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  JimLewis on Sun Dec 19, 2010 2:37 pm

As long as the research continues into long-term ill-effect and as long
as it is not just being used as a way of making money for this company
or another.

Problem is, that "long-term" is likely to be much longer than the research lasted. It could occur several generations down the road. Evolution continues to work on all living organisms -- even those whose ghenes we have diddled with.

And research is often deemed to be "adequate" by those who have control simply because of the potential economic "benefits" from the product. That's why -- years down the road from their economic release we continue (quite frequently) to have to pull drugs (for instance) from the market because of "unforseen" side effects -- and after the company selling the drug has known of the problem for years!).

Today's world is driven by money -- not ethics. I fear for my grandchildren.

We've done well enough with "ordinary" genetic diddling (look at Great Danes and Chihuahuas), without having to do it in secret in the laboratory.

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  clic8991 on Sun Dec 19, 2010 5:47 pm

I may be one of the few people on the forum who can comment on the logistical realities of plant transgenics and like everyone I have strong opinions about the implications of applications of technology in society in general. I worked in a plant transgenics laboratory in both industry and academics for 5 years; transforming plants such as rice, arabidopsis, soybean, corn, and turfgrass using Agrobacterium-mediated and Bombardment transformation methods. Subsequent to this I have studied molecular genetics for 5 years. Ultimately, I stopped studying plants transgenics because I was pretty sure that even if it increased crop yield, it wasn't going to make the world any better.

From a plant physiology stand point using plant transgenics (genetic engineering) to generate trees with altered morphological and growth characteristics is difficult. This is for a couple reasons;
1. Traits are complex; Very few traits are controlled by individual genes meaning that the precise manipulation of things such as leaf size independently of growth rate, or disease resistance independently of vigor are difficult. In addition to tradeoffs, traits are not particularly modular; ie you cant just put the genes that control leave size from a small-leafed tree into a large leafed tree and get small leaves. Manipulation of Hormonal pathways can in someways get around this because they regulate growth patterns and can probably be controlled in different parts of the plants independently ex. brassinosteroid and dwarfism

2. Each plant requires a unique transformation protocol. Generally, each species must go through a tissue culture phase which includes the generation of a todipotent (undifferentiated; similar to stem cells) population of cells which can be regenerated from a single cell into fertile plant. These todipotent cells then can become the target of a transgenic approach be selected for and regenerated. The development of these protocols is not trivial and can require years before an efficient protocol can be developed. Certain species prove to be exceptionally resistant to culture and/or transformation. Certain tree species which can be transformed are: Prunus Poplar Aspen Elm

3. Development regulations and trials are expensive. Even with a developed protocol, the only plants which have been brought to "market" are those which are believed to be profitable. The millions it would take to create a pine tree that backbuds on old wood with no needles could never be recouped in the small niche market that is bonsai.


There are many more caveats which make it difficult, but of course not impossible.However, there are traits which are fairly modular which may more easily be introduced into trees. These include:

antifreeze in the roots and tender shoots (trehalose) Link
drought resistance
salt tolerance
dwarfism (brassinosteroid) link
tendency to root or shoot or airlayer, etc. (cytokinin and auxin)Link
continual flowering
disease resistance

It has been pointed out a plant breeding or selection program is actually quite effective and more realistic at producing traits in a wide range of trees which are amenable to bonsai. There are several ways that technology has improved this process.

As it seems age is one of the most substantial contributors to stunning bonsai it may be more effective to try and make a time machine.

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Tony on Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:12 pm

clic8991, thanks for commenting, great to have an insight into this thorny (sorry) subject from one so knowledgeable.


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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Guest on Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:17 pm

Hows that for a first post. Welcome to the forum clic8991.

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Joe Hatfield on Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:23 pm

Yes, I agree with Tony. Helpful indeed.

I had been doing some reading on some of these topic points and it was getting a bit tiresome...... Your comment, however, was concise and informative! Thanks.


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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  JimLewis on Sun Dec 19, 2010 7:48 pm

It IS nice when someone who actually knows what he is talking about talks about it.

THANKS.

Where in NC are you?

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  clic8991 on Sun Dec 19, 2010 11:16 pm

JimLewis wrote:It IS nice when someone who actually knows what he is talking about talks about it.

THANKS.

Where in NC are you?

Im glad I could be helpful. Im in Durham, NC.

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  JimLewis on Sun Dec 19, 2010 11:18 pm

Ha! My son lives there. Next time I'm visiting, we should get together.

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Ravi Kiran on Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:33 am

Hi Clic (wish you'd share your name on the next post)

Thanks for sharing a very informative article. I am glad you did especially as you bring with you tremendous amount of knowledge on this subject. I'd take this opportunity to get some of the points you have made clarified.

Clic8991 wrote: I was pretty sure that even if it increased crop yield, it wasn't going to make the world any better

I find this rather puzzling because after reading the rest of your article there wasn't something that I could connect directly to why GE/GM wasn't going to make the world any better. Sincerely I am a little lost on this one so pls go ahead and clarify. I'd look forward to the same.

Coming more specifically to Bonsai, as has been clearly pointed out by you

Clic8991 wrote : Development regulations and trials are expensive. Even with a developed protocol, the only plants which have been brought to "market" are those which are believed to be profitable. The millions it would take to create a pine tree that backbuds on old wood with no needles could never be recouped in the small niche market that is bonsai.

The absence of big money in bonsai(thankfully) has kept big Corporations away. This being so do you think there is a possibility of plants with half baked research and with potentially lethal/disastrous consequences can be let loose into the bonsai world. Has this been done till now to the best of your information.

Thanks a lot again for contributing to this thread. Hoping you'd share more info to help us see the entire matter in better light. Thanks in advance.

Ravi

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Ravi Kiran on Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:49 am

Hi All,

even as I attempt to fathom the seemingly unfathomable controversy of GE/GM, I have just finished going through a very elaborate article on this topic in Wiki. The full article can be found in

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GM_food_controversy

While the title of the article is FOOD CONTROVERSY, the article discusses the GE/GM impact on others including the environment. After reading the article it has become amply clear that the long term side effects of GE/GM are very very unclear. Jim statement of "I FEAR FOR MY GRANDCHILDREN" suddenly makes tremendous sense.

I also opine that when large Corporations are involved the whole truth seldom comes out and when it does it is usually after substantial damage. I would hence deem it safe for me personally to steer clear of GE/GM species for Bonsai or otherwise.

I would also not want to trust Government or Regulatory agencies because of issues like tobacco. Despite the proven direct linkages to tobacco and lung cancer, tobacco has not been banned but rather left as a matter of choice to the individual. The judicial system too, besides awarding punitive damages in a few cases to plaintiffs again tobacco companies hasn't done much in terms of dealing with the problem in the long term.

Having said that I still am very scared about what I eat (I have no clue of how much I eat is GM/GE foods) and what the long term side effects are. And to make things worse, I have no way of figuring out until it is too late. I also am in the dark as how to identify the "NEW VARIETIES" of plants that my nursery man sells (often at 5-6 times the price of a similar local species) as GE/GM or not. Any thoughts on these are welcome

Ravi
(Better to eat humble pie than hold on to my ego Evil or Very Mad )

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  RichLewis on Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:00 am

Ravi Kiran wrote:

The absence of big money in bonsai(thankfully) has kept big Corporations away.

ThumbsUp

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

Post  Brett Summers on Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:11 pm

By,clic8991
Ultimately, I stopped studying plants transgenics because I was pretty sure that even if it increased crop yield, it wasn't going to make the world any better.

I don't know but it seems to me that rice that can save third world countries from vitimin A deficence could make some difference to the world.

The World Health Organizations estimates that approximately 250,000 to 500,000 undernourished children in Third World countries become blind every year as a result of Vitamin A deficiency. In the United States, Vitamin A deficiency is rare,
http://www.oohoi.com/healthy_living/vitamin-info/vitamin-a-deficiency.htm

Golden Rice first hit the headlines in 2000 when it made the cover of TIME magazine with the claim, "This rice could save a million kids a year."[1] Not to be outdone, U.S. President Bill Clinton declared, "If we could get more of this golden rice, which is a genetically modified strain of rice, especially rich in vitamin A, out to the developing world, it could save 40,000 lives a day, people that are malnourished and dying."[2] According to Adrian Dubock, an executive of Zeneca, now part of Syngenta - the GM giant which at one stage hoped to market Golden Rice and commercialise it in richer countries, there was no time to lose: "One month delay = 50,000 blind children [a] month."[3]
http://www.gmwatch.org/gm-myths/11130-golden-rice-qcould-save-a-million-kids-a-yearq

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Re: Genetically Engineering Bonsai Trees

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