(VI) Biotech industry pushing GE crops that they insist aren’t GE / GMO industry set to flood U.S. food supply with endless torrent of toxic chemicals / Scientists Develop ‘GMO Painkillers’ Using Rat DNA, Yeast
Biotech industry pushing genetically engineered crops that they insist aren’t genetically engineered
(NaturalNews) In the face of a growing public sentiment against genetically engineered (GE) crops, the biotechnology industry is pursuing a new strategy: Claiming that new GE technologies are so different from older ones that products produced using them should not be classified as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The industry is now using these techniques to introduce traits like herbicide resistance, pest resistance and altered nutritional content into crops intended for human consumption.
The industry claims that the so-called New Plant Breeding Techniques are essentially the same as conventional breeding, are highly precise, and are unlikely to produce unintended consequences. All these claims were initially made about first-generation genetic engineering, and they are just as false now as they were then.
“You don’t have to delve too deep to find that, as in the case of traditional genetic engineering, industry claims simply don’t stand up to scrutiny,” wrote Friends of the Earth Australia on July 17.
New techniques, old lies
What are the second-generation GE techniques being passed off as New Plant Breeding Techniques? The most popular ones include:
Cell fusion: Creating hybrid cells by fusing the cells from two separate plants, thereby combining their genomes.
Cisgenics and intragenisis: Introducing DNA from the same or a closely related species into the genome of the target organism.
Nuclease-mediated site-directed mutagenesis: Using enzymes to cut DNA at targeted parts of the genome in order to delete genes or replace them with other genes (from the same or another species). Nuclease-mediated techniques may use clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 nucleases, transcription activator-like nucleases (TALEN) or zinc-finger nucleases (ZFN).
Oligo-directed mutagenesis: Introducing oligonucleotide molecules that bind to DNA in specific locations, causing sequence mismatches and allowing a new gene to be spliced into the genome.
While the methods used in these and other techniques may differ from those used to create the first generation of , these methods certainly meet the most basic definition of genetic engineering: They involve targeted modification of the genome, and therefore produce GMOs as an end-product.
Industry claims that these techniques are more precise than earlier GE methods are also easily disproven. Just months ago, in fact, Chinese scientists published a study admitting that they had used CRISPR/Cas9 techniques to modify the genomes of human embryos.
This technique had a very low success rate at actually introducing the desired change, and also introduced an unusually high rate of errors and mutations. The study spurred many scientists to call for a moratorium on using CRISPR/Cas9 methods on human embryos.
“Unfortunately, however, scientists don’t seem to have similar qualms about conducting uncontrolled experiments with our staple food crops,” Friends of the Earth Australia wrote.
Why GMOs are a dead end
In its report on the false promises of the new wave of GE crops, Friends of the Earth Australia notes that even if industry promises were true, the adoption of based on these technologies would still be a bad idea. That’s because many of the worst effects of GMO crops come not from the modifications themselves, but from changes to agricultural practices caused by GMO use. For example, a 2012 study found that herbicide use in the United States increased by 239,000 metric tons per year between 1996 and 2011, as a direct result of herbicide-resistant GMOs.
The report notes that the United Nations trade and development body has called upon all governments to move away from industrial monoculture-based agricultural systems, and recommends shifting toward more diverse planting and support for small-scale farmers and local food production and consumption. Further of food crops is completely out of line with these goals.
“We also need a paradigm shift… ,” Friends of the Earth Australia writes, “and a move away from the chemical treadmill being foisted on farmers by agrochemical companies such as Bayer, Monsanto and Dow.”
GMO industry set to flood U.S. food supply with endless torrent of toxic chemicals
(NaturalNews) The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent approval of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) resistant to new herbicides will soon unleash a flood of new toxic chemicals across the nation’s agricultural heartland, observers have warned.
Previously, nearly all GMO crops approved for planting were engineered for resistance to a single herbicide: Monsanto’s blockbuster product Roundup (glyphosate). The widespread adoption of these crops led to an explosion in Roundup use, which in turn spurred the evolution of Roundup resistance in agricultural weeds.
In response to the proliferation of Roundup-resistant “superweeds,” GMO companies have turned to engineering multi-herbicide resistance into their crops. Specifically, GMO crops are now available resistant to both Roundup and the Dow herbicide 2,4-D, or Roundup and another herbicide, Dicamba.
But as critics of biotechnology have repeatedly noted, the adoption of these new GMOs will merely exacerbate the problem, encouraging still more herbicide use and the evolution of ever-tougher super weeds. In a recent article, Dr. Jonathan Latham of the Bioscience Resource Project referred to the process as “a vicious cycle that threatens both our environment and our food supply.”
Poisonous to plants and people
The adoption of herbicide-resistant GMOs always leads to an increase in herbicide use, because farmers feel free to spray poison in higher concentrations to kill off more weeds, no longer worried about harming their crop. As weeds start to develop resistance (within a few generations), the doses needed to kill them begin to increase. Inevitably, residue from these herbicides makes its way into the food supply.
Unsurprisingly, chemicals designed to poison plants are not benign for animals, either. Roundup has been linked with endocrine disruption, birth defects and organ failure. An ingredient in the infamous Vietnam War-era defoliant Agent Orange – 2,4-D – has been linked with hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, reproductive problems and suppressed immune function. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has declared both chemicals “probable carcinogens.”
According to government documents, Dicamba can cause neurological damage in mammals and is also classified as a “developmental toxin.”
This latter effect is particularly troubling given that a recent Environmental Working Group report counted more than 5,600 schools within 200 feet of agricultural fields likely to be planted with the new crops.
Both Dicamba and 2,4-D are considered at high risk for environmental contamination, the former in the soil and the latter by drifting through the air.
Government protects industry, not health
People hoping that government regulatory agencies will step in and protect the public from this chemical violence are likely to be disappointed. Rather than taking measures to prevent the predicted explosion of 2,4-D use near schools throughout the Midwest, Congress is currently working hard to pass the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, which would ban GMO labeling initiatives and potentially even prevent state or local governments from regulating herbicide use on GMO crops.
And while the White House recently ordered a multi-agency update of the rules governing in the United States, the priorities of that review are made clear by a single sentence from the memorandum: “The objectives are to ensure public confidence in the regulatory system and to prevent unnecessary barriers to future innovation and competitiveness by improving the transparency, coordination, predictability, and efficiency of the regulation of biotechnology products while continuing to protect health and the environment.”
That is, the first priority is to make sure that people trust the government, specifically its GMO regulations (or lack thereof). The second priority is to protect the profits of the biotech industry by preventing “barriers to future innovation and competitiveness.”
Only at the end is there a mention of protecting health or the environment – with a presumption that these are already being protected.
Given the already astonishing rates of Roundup use nationwide, that presumption is certainly open to question.
Scientists Develop â€˜GMO Painkillersâ€™ Using Rat DNA, Yeast
Would you take it?
August 16, 2015
Are you in enough pain to swallow this pill? Stanford scientists have developed a new way of creating painkiller components like hydrocodone by injectingÂ 23 different engineered genes from plants, bacteria, and rats intoÂ yeast.
The result is the beginning of the journey towards â€˜GMO painkillers,â€™ and another entrance into the world of genetically modified pharmaceuticals. A world that far expands beyond the tinkering of Monsantoâ€™s GMOs. The â€˜advancementâ€™Â places into perspective the depths to which the booming industry of DNA alteration will take us.
OverallÂ yields from this new yeast-based system arenâ€™tÂ currently strong enough to replace the traditional use of poppies in the full-scale production of painkillers, but it does in fact directly convert sugar to hydrocodone. Perhaps more importantly, it can also produce something known as â€˜thebaineâ€™ from sugar, which is the key precursor toÂ opioid compounds. We currently rely on poppies to fulfill this production when it comes to pharmaceutical manufacturing.
As the New York Times :
â€œSmolkeâ€™s yeast, which contains 23 engineered genes from plants, bacteria and rats, is capable of making a direct conversion from sugar to hydrocodone, as well as from sugar toÂ thebaine, a precursor of opioid compounds that would essentially take the place of poppies in the production of pain medication, but would still requite refinement. But it doesnâ€™t make much of it.â€
Americaâ€™s Painkiller Epidemic
Letâ€™s take a moment on the subject of painkillers to jump into the disturbing reality behind their excessive use.
Countless groups and organizations exist to target street drugs like cocaine, heroin, and even marijuana (which is absurdly listed as a Schedule I drug along with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy). Americaâ€™s painkiller epidemic, however, is left in the shadows. After all, itâ€™s generating a lot of seriousÂ business.
Painkillers are than heroin and cocaine combined, and are abused worldwide. AccordingÂ CDC reports, a whopping Â are actually taking painkillers for â€˜the high it gives.â€™Â
In other words, thereâ€™s a serious issue with the state of painkillers in the United States. At the same time, I am also aware that many people take painkillers for serious medical reasons. Thereâ€™s no question that painkillers areÂ truly are an amazing medical inventionÂ when they are needed, but like many medical creations, they must be used properly.