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>In order to make substantial changes in plants (or animals for that 
>matter) that truly change the form of the organism will require the 
>transfer of several genes.  We do not at present have the insight to 
>know how to control these changes,

It is true that genetic engineering is transfering one gene at a time, 
but that is also because that is what is needed.  There is no need to 
radically change a corn plant - all you want to do is make it resitent 
to corn weevil.  It's only necessary to add one gene.

However, substantial changes do occure in nature, depending on how you 
define substantial.  Many of the species in the iris genus are the 
result of crosses between two species, via unreduced gametes that 
produced a new species.  Luther Burbank was the first to do this in 
cultivation, although he was ridiculed at the time when he present his 
one and only scientific paper at a horticulture meeting.  He took two 
poisonous nightshade family species and tried crossing them for 13 
years and finally got one seed, which germinated and produced true 
breeding progenies that looked like hybrids of the two parents, but 
the seedling was NOT poisonous.  It was sold for many years as 
Wonderberry, Sunberry and Garden Huckleberry and may still be 

Also, it's not difficult to combine diferent genomes via protoplast 
fusion that combine existing genomes into new combinations.  Some of 
these systems would be so far out of balance that they wouldn't 
survive, but there is no reason why some wide combinations might not 
be successful.  Not sure why this line of research isn't being 
perused, as it isn't really that difficult.

Joe Halinar

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