January 29, 2011
By Nicola Twilley
Earlier this week, Popular Science published a step-by-step guide to building genetically modified seeds. The six stage process they outline, from finding a new trait to the genes expressing themselves, takes at least a
decade—and doesn’t even include gaining regulatory approval. The mechanical processes of genetic engineering, shorn of any debate over ethics, safety, or intellectual property, are a curious blend of painstaking grunt-work and technological ingenuity.
For example, take a look at step two: grabbing genes from a seed. In the past, this was a lengthy and time-consuming process that involved: “planting the seed, growing the plants to a certain size, and then clipping a paper-hole-puncher through a leaf to gather a sample.”