And so agriculture was created. Mankind set out to do genetic engineering, doing RNA Interference (RNAi) cereals, legumes, roots and tubers. They not only scientifically selected for larger fruits, uniform ripening and taste, they even turned dangerous natural foods into healthy ones.
8,000 BC? Isn't RNAi new, the successor to GMOs? No, the precision of modern RNAi is new, it won the Nobel Prize in 2006, but it has been done forever, even if the loss of function of specific genes could not be directly observed. Radiation also existed in nature long before Dr. Marie Curie won a Nobel Prize for it.
What is RNAi?
RNAi, like the CRISPR which arrived a few years ago, uses the natural machinery inside cells to stop protein expression. Though it was done in the past without being able to visualize the machinery, we now know that double-stranded RNA can be cut (diced - they even named the enzyme to do so Dicer) and those smaller "interfering" RNAs bind to Argonaute proteins and when one strand of that double-stranded RNA is removed, a particular gene can be silenced or it can be optimized.
Is RNAi organic?
RNAi has been happening for so long there is no reason, outside the lobbying of organic trade groups, that RNAi foods won't have a Certified Organic sticker on them.
Direct benefit for humans
10,000 years ago, RNAi directly benefited humans by allowing us to feed a growing population. As we have seen in America, when science makes food plentiful and affordable, that frees up time and money for education and the arts. America has the most scientific approach to food in the world and so it's no surprise we also lead the world in science literacy, science output, and funding for science and culture.
Humans produce over 500 distinct microRNAs and errors in those lead to numerous diseases, so not only will RNAi lead to new ways to optimize the food supply for a growing planet that wants a healthy, diverse diet, it could lead to new therapies.
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