In Chapter 4 of The Botany of Desire, in what ways is natural selection either promoted or prevented by the way the potato growers plan potatoes?

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Natural selection is the process of an organism adapting to its environment through characteristics that help it thrive. For example, an insect species might develop characteristics that make it look like a leaf to help protect it from predators. Natural selection can make new characteristics appear or it can remove...

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Natural selection is the process of an organism adapting to its environment through characteristics that help it thrive. For example, an insect species might develop characteristics that make it look like a leaf to help protect it from predators. Natural selection can make new characteristics appear or it can remove ones that aren't advantageous to survival.

In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan explains that potato growers both promote and prevent natural selection. For example, they can grow potatoes that are resistant to certain types of bacteria to help them thrive where they're planted. On the other hand, it would be possible for farmers to stop natural selection from taking place if it made the potatoes less appealing to consumers. A more bitter taste might help keep the bugs away, but it won't help growers sell potatoes at the store.

Pollan talks about the NewLeaf potatoes, which are genetically engineered to produce their own pesticide in every part of the plant. This helps them escape being eaten by the Colorado potato beetle. The pesticide kills any of the beetles that eat a NewLeaf potato. Pollan appears to believe that editing the genome of the plant actually goes beyond natural selection and what Darwin calls artificial selection—it's a brand new branch of science and a major change in the food supply chain.

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