Disposing of GMOs

The rice we grow in one of my lab's greenhouses.
The rice we grow in one of my lab’s greenhouses.

Yesterday I was working out at the greenhouse for my rice genetics lab.

I was getting rid of some old rice plants that we’d collected the seed from and no longer needed.

If a plant got to this point in a garden you’d normally throw it in the compost so it would be useful next year.

That’s not allowed for the rice we work with in my lab because it is an untested transgenic line.

Some members of the public dislike altering the genetics of food crops to create genetically modified organisms (GMOs). There are a couple of logical reasons for this and a couple of illogical ones.

Logical reasons include: religious objection, lack of crop diversification, cross-species allergens, and the strengthening of agribusiness monopolies that often accompanies GMO crop use.

Illogical reasons often have something to do with safety or not knowing what is in a product when you purchase it at the grocery store.

I could go on about this a lot. GMOs are a complex topic with a lot of ground to cover, but that wasn’t why I was writing this post today.

Because of the fear of GMOs, they need to go through extensive testing before they are declared legally safe. This testing can take up to ten years.

We don’t do that for every strain of modified rice in our lab, so certain precautions need to be taken.

Yesterday I cut off all the excess seeds on the old rice plants. The seeds go into a plastic bag.

The seed bag and the leftover portion you can see above both go into an orange dumpster at the center of the greenhouse complex.

All the stuff in the orange dumpster then goes into a special oven that ensures the modified crops won’t somehow get into the wild and start growing there.

After the special oven, called an autoclave, has destroyed the genetic material in the rice it can go into a normal dumpster or be used for compost.

Just another little glimpse at my job!

-Mister Ed

Exhausting Day

Really long day at work today.

I got to work today to count some germinated rice seeds.

Rice grows best if its put into water to sprout before planted in dirt.

My lab puts the rice seeds into petri dishes in an incubator and waits a week before transfering them into pots at the greenhouse.

I checked to see which seeds had germinated in the incubator and two out of the hundred I put there last week had failed to germinate.

I redid those two for next week, then I set out for the greenhouse.

I wasn’t planting those germinated seeds yet though. First, I collected seeds from one of our older crops of plants.

Then I came back to drop of the collected seeds and grab the germinated seeds.

I went out to a different greenhouse in a fenced in area.

I’d set up the pots to plant them in earlier this week, but the watering system hadn’t been set up for them.

I don’t know how to set it up, so I called my boss and he sent over someone to help me with it.

He helped me put it together and taught me how to set up the dripper water system myself next time.

I realized I’d forgotten to bring labels for my plants, so I asked that guy to go bring them for me.

I started planting the rice and he came back later with some labels, but they were the wrong ones.

I apologized for not being specific enough about which labels I needed and sent him back to get the right ones.

He found them and brought them back around 5.

I stayed there until about 6 to finish planting all the seeds.

The gates for the fence around the greenhouses close at 5.

I called my boss for the combination on the gate lock, but my cell reception was bad and he kept cutting out.

I ending up lifting my bike over the 7 foot fence and then climbing over after it.

I got home with my back side covered in water from carrying the germinated seeds around in their petri dishes full of water and extremely tired from working in greenhouses for about 6 hours.

Gonna sleep like a log tonight.

-Mister Ed