Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Genetically modified or engineered food: is it safe?

Quoted below are two articles, one from Mercola.com and a short excerpt from a longer article from Sustainable Times Webzine.

My own comments and a couple of questions I'd like to see answered – without deception and lies – by the scientific community are at the close.


New "Discovery" -- Gene Theory Flawed

The human genome may not be a collection of independent genes with each sequence of DNA linked to a single function. Instead, new findings indicate that genes operate in a complex network, and interact with each other in ways that are not yet fully understood.

The idea that genes operate independently is the basis for much of the thought, as well as the economic and regulatory structure, that governs the biotech industry. When recombinant DNA was invented in 1973, scientists believed that genes were associated with specific functions, and that therefore a gene from any organism could fit predictably into a larger design. In the United States, the Patent and Trademark Office allows genes to be patented on the basis of this idea.

These new discoveries raise questions not just about patent law, but also safety issues. Risk assessment of commercial biotech products such as genetically engineered crops to pharmaceuticals is also based on the “one gene, one function” theory. A network of interacting genes can produce unknown, and unpredictable, effects.

New York Times July 1, 2007 (Registration Required)

Dr. Mercola's comments:

It’s long been presumed that genes in the human body operate independently of one another. The first biotech company was founded on this premise, and the entire $73.5-billion biotechnology industry as we know it today still adheres to this basic principle.

But anyone who is aware of the biotech industry’s tendency to put profits ahead of safety will not be surprised to learn that the principle is completely wrong.

In fact, it’s been known for years that genes in other organisms operate as part of a network. Despite this, researchers only translated this knowledge to humans in June, when they reported being “surprised” to learn that the human genome is not a “tidy collection of independent genes”, but a complex interacting network instead.

However, safety studies for biotech products, including genetically modified (GM) foods, pharmaceuticals and more, have all been based on the flawed independent gene theory. Now that gene “network effects” have been acknowledged, it’s clear that biotech products could produce any number of unknown effects.

Jack Heinemann, a professor of molecular biology at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand put it quite well when he said, “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.”

This is likely to be just the beginning of the dangerous revelations that will come surrounding GM foods, prescription drugs and other biotech products, and their vastly unknown impacts on your health.

This brings home what many people have known for some time: the effects of genetic modification on the environment and on your health are unexplored territory. GM foods in particular are a massive experiment on a scale never before seen in the history of the human race.

You are an involuntary guinea pig in this risky experiment. More than 75 percent of the processed foods you eat contain GM foods, without labeling and without warning. All the more reason for you to stay away from processed foods as often as you can, and seek out local sources for healthier whole foods.


Below is a short excerpt showing the dangers to the environment from genetically modified crops from an article titled "The Biotech Harvest" by Stephen Leahy published on the website of The Sustainable Times Webzine ~Michelle

Escape of the Gene Genie

One of the most contentious issues is pollen. The pollen from GM crops contains the plant's unique genetics. As any allergy sufferer can tell you, pollen is highly mobile, blowing in the wind - or spread by insects.

This pollen can and has landed on receptive wild plants, transferring those unique genetics. This is the so-called 'superweed scenario,' where a weed becomes resistant to herbicides or insects. Only three years ago scientists believed this would be so rare an occurrence as to rule it out as a significant risk. But when actual studies were done, it turned out that some GM plants are particularly adept at transferring their genes to wild relatives.

In 1997, Tony Huether planted three different herbicide-resistant canola crops in three different fields at his farm near Sexsmith in northern Alberta. Two years later all his fields spontaneously produced canola plants that were resistant to all three herbicides. [This is very shocking….it's like having three of your children from separate births suddenly mutate into biological triplets! ~ Michelle] Natural cross-breeding had quickly produced something genetic engineering hadn't. Huether no longer grows GM canola.

If resistance to plant viruses is accidentally transferred to weeds, it could create havoc for farmers - and for natural ecosystems.


Michelle here….

I cannot believe that anyone, especially a scientist, believes the ridiculous notion that there is any part of a biological system, human or plant-life, that operates independently of the other systems in that body. You need only look at the debilitating side effects caused by most prescription medications to know that the systems in a human body are fully integrated, and when one is adversely affected, the others topple like dominoes.

Also, I do not believe this knowledge of the interdependence of genetic material is a "new discovery." I think someone let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, and the scientific community simply can no longer deceive the public or try to hide the truth: that they have absolutely no idea how the DNA will interact within the products they are altering, and they have no clue as to what they are ultimately creating through the genetically modified crops being produced.

Calling it "Frankenfood" may be putting it mildly!

Through normal interaction, the DNA "spliced" together in one product could transform or mutate into something completely different or unexpected, and it would not be known or identified until ten, twenty, thirty years later when the "fallout" from this experiment causes chronic disease or medical conditions as asbestos did, as the drug DES given to some pregnant women did in causing cancers to develop in their adult daughters and sons, as it is suspected that the hormone rBGH does in our milk.

Here is another very troubling thought: doctors say that many human cancers are due to a person's genetic predisposition. However, people managed to live for thousands of years without half the men and one-third of the women (the most recent figures for the U.S. population from the National Cancer Society) likely to contract cancer.

The questions I want answered are these:

Is it possible that the products we consume in forced ignorance of their genetic alterations could have altered our DNA?

Could it be that the genetically modified foods are a contributing factor to our "genetic predisposition" with cancer as the result?

I believe the answer to both those questions is "Yes."

It is unconscionable that the FDA is not insisting, and the producers are resisting, the labeling of genetically modified products. Demand to be an informed consumer.

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