Unregulated gene editing may replace nature
Published: February 8, 2023
Category: GMO 2.0
By Jeffrey Smith
On May 18th, 2022, Canadian authorities declared that companies could place untested gene edited GMOs into the food supply without telling consumers or the government. Similar “deregulation” of gene editing is in place in the U.S., India, Japan, Brazil, Australia, the UK, and elsewhere, all the result of a well-funded disinformation campaign by the biotechnology industry.
Employing a chorus of front groups, paid scientists, captured regulatory agencies, and biotech-friendly media, companies such as Bayer/Monsanto created an echo chamber of lies to convince decision makers that gene editing is safe, predictable, and even natural. The UK government even adopted their term “precision breeding.”
Unfortunately, such institutionalized fraud puts our food and planet at grave risk.
Gene editing uses new techniques to change the sequence of genomes. It is widely used in DNA research, and the medical community hopes it can be further developed to cure genetic diseases.
You’ve probably heard of CRISPR, the most popular gene editing technique. Its developers won a Nobel Prize in 2020. CRISPR stands out because of how cheap and easy it is. Even home hobbyists and high school science classes use it to create new gene combinations. With unprecedented access to genetic engineering, countless scientists and companies think up countless ways to alter countless species.
If it becomes a regular tool of plant and animal breeders, the number of new GMOs released over the next 25 years could be vast. GMOs would pervade our diet. Even organic and non-GMO products would likely be overrun.
Gene editing is fraught with unpredicted side effects, including massive collateral damage to the genome. The prestigious journal Nature describes the extensive damage from CRISPR as “Chromosomal Mayhem.”
The animated 6-minute short, Seven Reasons why Gene editing is Dangerous and Unpredictable, illustrates what happens inside a gene edited genome. It gets cut in unintended places, there are widespread deletions and additions of DNA, and hundreds or thousands of mutations are created. Sometimes the genome shatters and is recombined in a haphazard order. Proteins found in gene edited foods could be toxic or allergenic. And unplanned changes in gene activity can be passed on generation after generation.
Despite numerous published studies exposing these drawbacks, most companies using gene editing do not conduct follow up research to identify whether their experiment led to side effects.
In 2016, for example, scientists gene edited a type of cattle, so they wouldn’t grow their customary horns. Claiming their experiment went exactly as planned, developers began breeding the animals for confined factory farms, where the hornless variety wouldn’t injure others.
More than two years later, an FDA employee needed genome data to evaluate new software and happened to have the hornless cattle info handy. She discovered that the experiment was far from flawless. DNA from bacteria was integrated into the cow’s genome. Further, the bacterial genes were designed to be antibiotic resistant. Such a significant accident could impact the health of the animals, those who consume their milk and meat, and possibly the greater population exposed to pathogens that acquired antibiotic resistance from the cattle.
Also in 2016, the USDA told a scientist from Penn State that his gene edited mushrooms would not be subject to any oversight by the department. He used CRISPR to “knockout” genes that produce a browning enzyme. The resultant GMOs do not turn brown when sliced. As the mushrooms did not have any new DNA added from a source considered unsafe by the USDA, it was one of about 30 gene edited GMOs that the department claimed were outside their jurisdiction.
Years later, however, research revealed how CRISPR knockouts fail about one-third of the time. In some cases, partially disabled genes encode mutant proteins which could be allergenic or toxic.
These and many other cases have not slowed a burgeoning industry. More and more kingdoms and species are being targeted. Insects, trees, grass, pets, livestock, fish… nothing is off limits.
Once released, GMOs cannot be recalled. A corrupted gene pool self-propagates. Over time, massive numbers of gene edited GMOs could flood our environment and ultimately replace nature.
Organic & Non-GMO Insights February 2023