Pre-Columbian Genetic Engineering

This is pretty cool, from Charles C. Mann's new book, and quoted by Marginal Revolution:

...the modern species [of maize] had to have been consciously developed by a
small group of breeders who hunted through teosinte strands for plants with
desired traits.  Geneticists from Rutgers University...estimated in 1998 that
determined, aggressive, plan breeders -- which Indians certainly were -- might
have been able to breed maize in as little as a decade...modern maize was the
outcome of a bold act of conscious biological manipulation -- "arguably man's
first, and perhaps his greatest, feat of genetic engineering," [Nina
Federoff]..."To get corn out of teosinte is so -- you couldn't get a grant to do
that now, because it would sound so crazy...Somebody who did that today would
get a Nobel Prize!  If their lab didn't get shut down by Greenpeace, I mean."

One Comment

  1. Mark:

    The incentive is so big. Nobel prize! I am thinking of establishing a lab for research now. :P