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Is This Possible?

Is This Possible? - General Science Questions and Layperson Board

Is This Possible? - General Science Questions and Layperson Board


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  #1  
Old 06-16-2010, 05:39 AM
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Default Is This Possible?



Forgive me if the question is not in the correct forum:

Is genetic engineering technology sufficiently developed to create a virus that affects only one type of plant? Is it possible to develop delivery systems so that the virus may be transported via rivers, streams, and irrigation?

If this is within the reach of our current and near-future genetic engineering technology, this may be the most effective way to rid the world of illegal drugs.

Thank You
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  #2  
Old 06-16-2010, 06:23 PM
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Default Re: Is This Possible?

For what I know, there are many virus that are host-specific or even tissue-specific for a certain animal or plant. And not only virus, bacteria and fungi too. And if you geneticly engineer the organism, you can use it as the most accurate and specific vector of all.

Actually this use is widespread in many strategies, most of them involving gene silencing by siRNA.

And talking about stability, virus and bacteria can travel through long distances without being too much afected. Virus are the most stable due to their simplicity.

How can you get rid of illegal drugs using this? ._.
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  #3  
Old 06-16-2010, 07:00 PM
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Default Re: Is This Possible?

Deliberately releasing genetically engineered viruses into the environment is a horrible, terrible, very bad idea. For one thing, there's always a risk of the virus mutating and changing its tropism.
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  #4  
Old 06-16-2010, 08:37 PM
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Default Re: Is This Possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonnie View Post
Deliberately releasing genetically engineered viruses into the environment is a horrible, terrible, very bad idea. For one thing, there's always a risk of the virus mutating and changing its tropism.
Jeje, that's how evolution works... anyway, I don't think they're realeasing genetically modified viruses... it has always been in controled environments (at least that's what logic would dictate)
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:36 AM
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Default Re: Is This Possible?

The basic idea is to create a virus that only affects coca plants, poppy seed plants, and any other plants that could be used to make illegal drugs. The virus need not kill the plant, all it simply has to do is "turn off" the plants ability to make the chemicals used to make illegal drugs.

I am aware that releasing a virus into the environment is a risk, the main issue is the probability that the virus or pathogen may mutate and harm other plants. To properly asses the risks lets look at an analogous situation.

Consider people who are daily physical contact with many chickens, ducks, geese, pigs, etc. We can take people who work in chicken farm or "factories". Now, it is almost certain that sometimes some of the chickens may be ill with some pathogen, yet most of the time few if none of the human workers get sick. Even if most of the chickens fell ill with some chicken pathogen, there is evidence to suggest that much of the time it doesn't affect humans. Hence, it would stand to reason that even if the chicken virus or pathogen mutates the probability that it would harm humans is low.

Hence we can conclude with some certainty that even if our genetically engineered pathogen did mutate the probability that it would harm Useful plants is low.

Last edited by deloprator20000; 06-17-2010 at 03:39 AM.
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  #6  
Old 06-17-2010, 08:40 PM
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Default Re: Is This Possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SebaQ View Post
anyway, I don't think they're realeasing genetically modified viruses... it has always been in controled environments (at least that's what logic would dictate)
I believe deloprator20000 is, in fact, proposing the uncontrolled release of genetically modified viruses into the environment. I'm aware that no one currently does this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deloprator20000 View Post
Consider people who are daily physical contact with many chickens, ducks, geese, pigs, etc. We can take people who work in chicken farm or "factories". Now, it is almost certain that sometimes some of the chickens may be ill with some pathogen, yet most of the time few if none of the human workers get sick. Even if most of the chickens fell ill with some chicken pathogen, there is evidence to suggest that much of the time it doesn't affect humans. Hence, it would stand to reason that even if the chicken virus or pathogen mutates the probability that it would harm humans is low.

Hence we can conclude with some certainty that even if our genetically engineered pathogen did mutate the probability that it would harm Useful plants is low.
The 1918 Spanish Flu most likely originated from farm animals (ie. exactly what you're saying doesn't happen), and killed over 50 million people. It is still the deadliest natural disaster in human history.
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Old 06-19-2010, 03:52 PM
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Default Re: Is This Possible?

The Spanish flu was devastating, but it seems that a flu that deadly is a rarity. Not to mention that the thousands of people are still in close physical contact with birds and yet we don't have regular outbreaks of deadly flu.

I see your point, though, it may be a good idea for scientists to estimate the probability that a pathogen would mutate into something harmful to plants and/or humans. Then weigh the risks, an illegal drug trade that harms thousands if not millions of people every year, or the probability that a pathogen may mutate and harm plants or humans.

Certain measures can be taken to reduce the probability that a pathogen may mutate into something harmful. Not to mention that if people would stop growing the plants the pathogen would not reproduce.
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  #8  
Old 07-23-2010, 08:30 AM
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Default Re: Is This Possible?

I'am sorry, I can't agree you totally. I know you want to ban druging, but if through this idea, I think it can't work.
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  #9  
Old 07-23-2010, 03:07 PM
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Default Re: Is This Possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by deloprator20000 View Post
The basic idea is to create a virus that only affects coca plants, poppy seed plants, and any other plants that could be used to make illegal drugs. The virus need not kill the plant, all it simply has to do is "turn off" the plants ability to make the chemicals used to make illegal drugs.
You're going to have a few problems with this, notably:
1) While it is possible to have viruses which can only grow in a single host species (among mammals, this is the norm), there is always a risk of the virus spreading to other related species, or even making a larger jump to a more distantly related species. Its all evolution - one your virus is out of the lab, anything that favors its survival will be selected for, and there is no way around that.

2) Its unlikely that you'd be able to effectively shut off the production of the drug effectively. This would require that all cells in the drug producing portion of the plant be infected; something which is an impossibility. However, killing or stunting the plant can occur with a much small portion of infected cells - if you're virus is killing those cells.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deloprator20000 View Post
Consider people who are daily physical contact with many chickens, ducks, geese, pigs, etc. We can take people who work in chicken farm or "factories". Now, it is almost certain that sometimes some of the chickens may be ill with some pathogen, yet most of the time few if none of the human workers get sick.
You just picked the worst possible example. The annual flu evolves by being passed between humans, birds and swine. More accurately, the annual flu evolves in farms (usually in Asia) where it is passed between pigs, chickens/ducks and the farm workers.

So contrary to your claim, the simple reality is that the flu epidemic which circles the globe every year is a direct product of farming, and the interactions between people and their livestock.

And keep in mind - we're not talking about the virus spreading from species with a wide evolutionary gap - the main concern is spread between closely related species (or even subtypes of the same species). For example, the poppy used as the source of poppy seeds (a major food source in some areas of the world) is the exact same species as the one which makes opium. Your virus would, in all likelyhood, kill the food poppy as well - thus starving those who depend on it for food.

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  #10  
Old 07-23-2010, 11:53 PM
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Thumbs down Re: Is This Possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by deloprator20000 View Post
The basic idea is to create a virus that only affects coca plants, poppy seed plants, and any other plants that could be used to make illegal drugs. The virus need not kill the plant, all it simply has to do is "turn off" the plants ability to make the chemicals used to make illegal drugs.
That is nonsense. There's no point in attempting to change nature, risking the life of uncountable species, just to make a social problem go away. The problem aren't the substances, the problem is how they are used.

You want to solve the drug problem change the way people thinks, not the way nature works.
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