Dr. Claudia Stange: "transgenic anti movements are based on ignorance and human nature to fear of the unknown"

Dr. Claudia Stange: "transgenic anti movements are based on ignorance and human nature to fear of the unknown"

Dr. Claudia Stange works in the laboratory of plant Molecular Biology of theDepartment of biology of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Chile. Regarding the transgenic, you have a very clear view.

Dr. Claudia Stange works in the laboratory of biology Molecular Plant of the Department of biology of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Chile. Her research focuses on the characterization of the route carotenogenica in Daucus carota l. (carrot) and its application of biotechnology to produce food more nutritious. It is biochemical of theUniversidad de Chileand obtained the degree of doctor in biological sciences, mention of Molecular Genetics and microbiology, in theUniversidad Católica de Chile. Currently, he is Associate Professor of the Department of biology of the Faculty of Sciences.

What are the advances of the University of Chile in the area of transgenic?

The transgenic is used massive and preferably as a technique for the genetic modification of plants for study at the basic level of development mechanisms in plants. There are also works of their use in genetic engineering of plants for different purposes, for example giving resistance to abiotic stress (salinity, drought, cold, etc), tolerance to infection by microorganisms or insects, herbicide tolerance, improve the quality nutritional and antioxidant plant, to produce vaccines, among others...

But that is transgenic?

The transgenic refers to the genetic modification of plants using strategies of molecular biology. It is based on the incorporation of gene material (DNA) external that wasn't initially in that plant. This external DNA will give rise to the expression of a gene in particular that you want to study or, in the case of genetic engineering, that you want to incorporate in the plant to give certain characteristics that the plant does not have, such as those mentioned previously.

Then the plant that has been genetically modified is now a foraneo-externo gene that gives you new features. If that gene comes from the same species, is called intragenesis. If that gene, promoter and terminator, comes from the same variety, called cisgenia. If the gene, promoter and terminator is of vegetable origin (any plant), bacterial or yeast is called transgenic. All of them are considered genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Chile. In other countries such as USA, cisgenicas plants are not considered OGM.

At the level of basic science, genes are introduced to plants to functionally assess the gene of interest in a plant used as a model. So you can seeVivothe function of the genes that are then used in genetic engineering, in our group have standardized the technique of transformation to carrot, tomato, tobacco, Apple and kiwi. etc. In the case of Apple and kiwi approach is purely biotechnology.

Let's talk about Apple best nutritional content and Kiwi with tolerance to salinity...

We have a project that is a doctoral thesis, in which functionally evaluate a few transcription factors conferring specifically salinity tolerance in plants. Increasing salinity and drought in agricultural soils is a consequence of climate change and plants do not tolerate growing in these environments. Currently, we have plants by kiwi we want to prospect for development of stress-tolerant rootstocks by salt. Regarding Apple, we are working to create a new variety of Apple which have genes for the synthesis of carotenoids (pigments that give yellow, Orange and red fruits, precursors of vitamin A and powerful antioxidants) in fruits. This, in order to increase the amount of nutrition and antioxidants in fruits of Apple.

In this project we standardise the GM of the Apple Protocol so express three genes of synthesis of carotenoids to produce pigments increased in the pulp of the fruits. We currently have plants of apples of different ages. We expect to be fruitful to assess the fruits, which we hope will have attractive as orange or red colors. We are optimistic on the results that we obtained.

What does anti-transgenic think movements?

I think they are based on ignorance and human nature to fear the unknown. I invite you to are reported, but reliable primary sources and not uncertain pages for the information they have. I also believe that anti-GMO movements there is no scientist within them. Someone who knows the key part of the genetic modification would have no reason to be against this process.

How has the University of Chile achieved carry their work to society? For example, the abiotic stress in plants...

The issue of GMOs, change climate, or on the regulation of GMOs in Chile and the new technologies of genetic improvement have socialized and reported in the Radio of the University of Chile, specifically in the programme "I want to be Scientific". Our students also help us to disclose it to the society. In addition, we will give talks to schools and receive students here in our laboratory to disseminate scientific knowledge and help them in their vocational orientation also. Some time ago we postulate a FIC project to report the issue of climate change. It is a regional FIC in the Metropolitan Region, but still not get the results. We are interested in reaching out to the community and students come to the science. We want students to be involved in what is science and to solve problems that have to do with our society and how scientists can contribute to value biotechnology products.

We as scientists have a responsibility to report, but it is also important that people, if they are interested in finding out on various topics, find out or write directly to the scientists. On the Internet there is information from first sources but there are also many speeches without sustenance. And as I said, they are based on the fear of the unknown people.

And also to allow GMOs in Chile...

The resolution 1523 2001 indicates that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for the purposes of reproduction of seeds, which are exported can be grown. In fact, the exportation of seeds is the fourth most exported product in our country. But you can not use internally. The vegetables and fruits we consume have been generated by conventional techniques of genetic improvement as assisted crosses and random mutagenesis. These varieties do not require follow stringent safety protocols to the environment and health that if there should be a GMO to be marketed. So they both take to reach the market.

It is important to emphasize that in our country there is no fresh GMO foods (fruits and vegetables) in the market. What is consumed are products derived from GMOs. The plant is the GM because it has external genetic material. All plants generated transgenic, cisgenia or intragenia, unfortunately have no place commercial in Chile at the moment. Although for the moment there is the possibility to be marketed, as a scientist interested in the development of new Chilean varieties with added value, I can tell you that I will continue working on it adjusting to new breeding strategies genetically so that someday may make more healthy products that benefit the community.