Monsanto is probably ‘the most hated corporation in America’ but a new plan to alter the DNA of every plant we eat could make them hated even more.
According to a March 27 article in Business Insider, the GMO giant has teamed up with Pairwise Plants – a California start-up company helmed by a pair of Harvard scientists, planning to invest a massive $100 million in gene-editing technology.
While the innovation, referred to as CRISPR, is being hailed by some as a method to remedy genetic diseases, numerous natural health supporters question its safety, and whether our food is an appropriate target for gene-editing.
Three days after the collaboration was revealed, a released research study showing that CRISPR caused unexpected anomalies in mice was retracted.
Monsanto has a long and disgraceful history of reducing damaging research study.
The gene-editing tool CRISPR (an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) enables researchers to manipulate DNA to produce qualities such as taste, longer shelf life, convenient sizing or tolerance to dry spell and disease.
In other words, unlike traditional GMO approaches, which add genes from another organism, gene-editing modifications (or deletes) existing genes.
Monsanto plans to “gene-edit” corn, soy, wheat, cotton, and canola– important crops utilized in a comprehensive variety of foods. (Of course, they will then have unique rights to the “edited” crops).
The company’s specified goal is to be the very first to obtain CRISPR-made produce into the United States market– and to do so within the next 5 to 10 years.
And, they are taking out all the stops in pursuit of this goal.
Not only has Monsanto invested $100 million in Pairwise, but they are offering management as well. The cooperation between the two business is so cozy that Tom Adams – the head of Monsanto’s biotechnology department – is slated to lead Pairwise as Chief Executive Officer.
Unpredicted mutations appear in research study as safeguards fail
Natural health professionals and GMO critics– consisting of the non-profit organization GM Watch– warn that CRISPR might cause unforeseeable mutations.
Their suspicions appear to have been validated by an explosive research study published last May in Nature Methods, where CRISPR caused hundreds of unintentional, “off-target” mutations in mice.
The mice had initially undergone CRISPR gene modifying to fix a genetic defect.
When researchers sequenced their genomes– their whole collection of genes– they found that two of the mice had sustained more than 1,500 anomalies including the nucleotide (a small block of DNA).
CRISPR innovation is believed to be so precise and predictable that the USDA has currently given the “thumbs-up” to CRISPR-produced foods.
Computer algorithms utilized by researchers to evaluate for possible unintended mutations failed to forecast them. Besides, the modifications were “off-target,” indicating they didn’t happen in the genes that had been edited in the first place.
Leading authority on genetic engineering had been anticipating these results
Discussing the study, Dr. Michael Antoniou– a molecular geneticist and authority on genetic engineering– called the results “unsurprising.” Chillingly, he mentioned that there “wasn’t a question” of unintentional anomalies appearing. “The only question,” mentioned Dr. Antoniou, “is how many.”
These anomalies, apparently, could have unintended effects. For instance, said Dr. Antoniou, the disruption of an enzyme’s function could result in unforeseeable biochemical reactions.
Dr. Antoniou maintains that the entire genome series of gene-edited organisms ought to be submitted to biosafety authorities– and that long-lasting toxicity studies ought to also be performed.
GM Watch agrees, specifying that brand-new genome modifying need to be at least as strictly controlled as the original genetic engineering method.
However, the story doesn’t end there.
Three days after the announcement of Monsanto’s cooperation with Pairwise, the research study was retracted from online versions of Nature Methods. A month later on, on April 27, 2018, it was withdrawn from the printed journal.
Nature Method’s editors described that “multiple groups” had questioned the scientists’ interpretation that the nucleotide modifications were due to CRISPR treatment.
And, without more analysis of the rodents’ hereditary background, nobody might declare certainty. Ultimately, the editors ruled that the modifications discovered by the researchers were actually due to “regular hereditary variation.”
Undeterred, the study’s authors are presently performing follow-up studies utilizing whole genome sequencing.
Although the research study, “Unexpected Mutations after CRISPR-Cas 9 editing in vivo,” has actually been withdrawn, you can still see it here.
Are we seeing a kinder, gentler Monsanto? Most likely not!
Monsanto is presently using gene editing to establish “boosted premium vegetables,” including “crunchier” lettuce, “sweeter” cantaloupes, and a variation of broccoli that is touted as containing more antioxidant, cancer-fighting phytochemicals such as glucoraphanin.
And the business declares it is using old-fashioned crossbreeding to do it.
The twist is, scientists can now examine the offspring’s genome for recognized markers for desirable qualities– then grow plants with those markers. And, they can now scan for genetic variations in the seeds, without awaiting a whole plant to grow.
However are these new fruits and vegetables as healthy as their natural, un-edited equivalents? To name a few problems, critics state that a number of the products are crossbred for increased sweet taste– and as a result, including more sugar.
Incredibly, there is no law mandating that Monsanto represents potential long-lasting effects.
Dr. Robert Lustig, the pediatric endocrinologist and the president of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition, belittled the concept of a more ecologically accountable Monsanto. “The only result they (Monsanto) care about is profit,” Dr. Lustig mentioned.
( Remember, this is the same Monsanto that has taken legal action against farmers for growing back licensed seeds, produced a bumper crop of Roundup-resistant superweeds, and– lest we forget– developed Agent Orange. All while keeping a tradition of blatant lies, deceit and scientific fraud).
” Gene editing” might sound less ominous than “genetic engineering.” However, for many, it still adds up to “Frankenfood.”.
Sources for this short article consist of:.