Unpredictable effects. Unknown outcomes. Potential health consequences. Uncertain gene technology.
These aren’t phrases biotech giants like to hear.
“One gene produces one protein.”
“Each gene has a specific function.”
This is the basis for the modern biotech industry, and it applies most definitely to GMO crops.
And it is false.
So for example, when Monsanto says the genes they insert in plants only serve to protect the plants from the herbicide Roundup and have no other function, they’re making it up.
For a brief summary of the situation, see Denise Caruso’s NY Times piece, “A Challenge to Gene Theory, a Tougher Look at Biotech,” July 1, 2007.
Caruso reports on the findings of an “exhaustive four-year effort…organized by the United States National Human Genome Research Institute and carried out by 35 groups from 80 organizations around the world.”
“…genes appear to operate in a complex network, and interact and overlap with one another and with other components in ways not yet fully understood.”
“Evidence of a networked [interacting] genome shatters the scientific basis for virtually every official risk [safety] assessment of today’s commercial biotech products, from genetically engineered crops to pharmaceuticals.”
In other words, each gene inserted in GMO food crops cannot be said to have only one function. There is reason to believe the inserted genes interact with genes already in the plants, and produce unknown effects.
Therefore, bland assurances of safety are smoke blowing in the wind.
“Jack Heinemann, a professor of molecular biology in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and director of its Center for Integrated Research in Biosafety”: ‘The real worry for us has always been that the commercial agenda for biotech may be premature, based on what we have long known was an incomplete understanding of genetics…’
Heinemann: “Because gene patents and the genetic engineering process itself are both defined in terms of genes acting independently, [government] regulators may be unaware of the potential impacts arising from these network [interacting] effects.”
Biotech companies like Monsanto are, to be sure, aware of this gaping hole in their “science” of gene-function. In fact, according to Heinemann, “Many biotech companies already conduct detailed genetic studies of their products that profile the expression of proteins and other elements. But they are not required to report most of this data to regulators, so they do not. Thus vast stores of important research information sit idle.” …