By corinnecluis

Corinne is a doing a M.Sc in plant molecular biology. She is interested in ways in which biotechnology can be used to increase quality of life, and in ethical ways to have these advances benefit populations. She is also currently debating whether to become a pop icon or a meditating bum on the trails of BC parks.

BIOPROSPECTING: A NEW WESTERN BLOCKBUSTER, AFTER THE GOLD RUSH, THE GENE RUSH

Picture a group of scientists exploring tropical forests to collect plants, fungi or microorganism samples. They are bioprospecting. In other words, they are looking for new compounds that may help remediate so-far incurable diseases. Picture them settling in villages and discussing with the shaman to learn their traditional way of using plants to heal their people. These local medicine men are often rich of a secular oral tradition about nature‚Äôs secrets. Now, picture the scientists coming back to their wealthy country with their suitcase full of unexplored drug candidates. Ten years later, after intense research work and numerous trial and…

ROUNDING UP THE SCHMEISER CASE: BENEFIT AND LIABILITY ISSUES OF TRANSGENIC CROPS

For thousands of years, it has been common practice for farmers to keep the best seeds from their fields for the next growing season. This has allowed them to develop breeds of high quality, high yields and nurture those adapted to the local conditions. Trading seeds with other farmers is also a secular tradition that is important for maintaining a diverse genetic background within a field. So when Percy Schmeiser, a 59 year old Saskatchewan farmer, inadvertently found that some of his canola plants that boarded a local road, were resistant to a herbicide purchased to get rid of the…