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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Selective Breeding

September 20, 2003

Re "Globalization, Then," Opinion, Sept. 14: Why does Jared Diamond insist on using the phrase "genetically modified" when he means "selectively bred"? Genetic modification wasn't even invented until the mid-1970s; it involves inserting genes from one plant or animal species into another. It creates a completely new life form unlike anything that has existed before. Selectively breeding, on the other hand, is choosing existing plants or animals for reproduction on the basis that they contain desirable traits.

Diamond used a phrase that is incorrect. Is it to muddy the waters of the debate about the safety of creating new genetically modified organisms?

Sue Davis

Thousand Oaks

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