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Why GMOs fail to deliver

07 August 2012, 12:32

I have been following with great interest most of the developments in the genetic engineering fields for quite some time now. I have had a sense of foreboding and that there was something not quite right for a long time. I mean, I am all for the stated goals of the companies developing GMO’s- growing crops under more adverse conditions has to help overall food production. That is their stated goals. I am very much against their practices and their high-handed bullying and outright corruption in influencing public debate and controlling the processes that should be curtailing their activities.

But, what alarms me most of all is their insistence on the safety of their ‘products’. It has taken quite a long time for the penny to drop in my mind, because I am also quite a hard-nosed scientist. So far there were a lot of hysterical outcries against GMO’s with very little in the way of scientific explanations to show why they were so bad. Empirical evidence seems to point out that they are very bad for any mammals that consume them – slowed growth, early death from organ failure, etc. but no one has any solid scientific model of how and why these modifications to the organism’s genetic code is failing and causing damage.

That is, until I heard about epi-genetics. A relatively new field in science and one that has to do with the ‘rules’ around our DNA programs and particularly how our cellular DNA is affected by our environment. In along with a whole bunch of subtle ways in which our environment directly feeds back to our cells behavior was a piece of information that initially didn’t seem any more significant. The genes that ‘code’ for certain responses are folded over and, depending on environmental states, re-fold and un-fold to produce chemical ‘surfaces’ that code for different proteins, enzymes and other bio-chemical essentials that determine the overall behavior of the organism.

What this all essentially boils down to is that the science that Monsanto, Dow Chemicals, et al are using is highly flawed. It is not only the sequence of codons that are significant but all sorts of other information around the specific gene that is also required. Worse still, is that there is no concern given to the actual ‘surface’ that a particular genetic modification will cause in the resultant organism! This means that these modifications are almost always going to cause genetic abnormalities when the organism attempts to re-arrange it’s responses to environmental changes. I would argue that this is the source of the high-level of allergy that humans show in response to GM foods- the modifications cause the body to see them as foreign compounds because they do not behave bio-chemically as they should.

To me this was a ‘light-bulb’ moment because I finally realized that the methods they are using are actually just stabs in the dark in terms of targeting certain behavioral modifications. What they are producing are rightfully called ‘Franken’ foods because they are, scientifically, such clumsy, heavy-handed ways of modifying otherwise 100 times more subtle behavior!

Overall, I still firmly believe that all ‘scientific’ advances should be tested a lot more rigorously and that the deployment of these GM organisms is more likely due to cause worse problems than they solve. We should therefore work hard collectively to prevent the spread of these GMO’s especially surreptitiously into our processed foodstuffs. 
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