GMO SEEDS AND CROPS:Science and science fiction
WHAT ARE GMOS ANYWAY? GMO = Genetically modified organism Anorganism whose genetic structure has been altered by incorporating a gene that will express a desirable trait (process called genetic engineering).
EXAMPLE: FLAVR SAVR TOMATO First commercially grown genetically engineered food to be granted a license for human consumption.
WHAT IS A GENE? A short sequence of DNA that codes for a protein Humans have 20,000 to 25,000 genes.
GENETIC ENGINEERING Use viruses or bacteria to "infect" animal or plant cells with the new DNA. Coat DNA onto tiny metal pellets, and firing them into cells with a special gun.
HOW DOES GM DIFFER FROMCONVENTIONAL BREEDING? Both alter genetic makeup and properties of the product. Conventional breeding can take place only between closely related life forms. Genetic modification bypasses the checks and balances associated with the natural selection process.
GENETIC MODIFICATION ONLY ONE OF MANYBIOTECH TOOLSBiotechnology includes: Genetic modification Marker-assisted selection (MAS) Tissue culture Fermentation (wine, beer) Agriculture Baby plants in tissue culture
The fact that the GMtransformation process is artificial does not automatically make it dangerous.
MISINFORMATION ABOUNDS ON BOTH SIDES! Scientists found thatThis picture is PhotoShopped! Arctic flounder produces an antifreeze gene. Inserted into strawberry to increase frost- resistance (in the lab) Marker-Assisted Selection and conventional breeding found to be more efficient. ~This strawberry does not exist~
THE PROMISE OF GMO TECHNOLOGY Engineer allergenic foods to remove allergens (wheat, soy). Farmers grow more crops and feed more people using less land. Use fewer pesticides. Reduce the amount of tilling that leads to erosion. Advanced crops that are designed to survive heat waves and droughts.
GM CROPS ENGINEERED TO TOLERATE HERBICIDES Roundup Ready® soybeans Roundup Ready® soybeans commercialized in 1996. Alfalfa, corn, cotton, spring canola, sugar beets and winter canola came next. Contain in-plant tolerance to Roundup® agricultural herbicides.
GM CROPS ENGINEERED TOEXPRESS BT TOXIN Bt a bacterium that expresses a protein toxic to many insects. Works against leaf- feeding insects Used agriculturally as a spray, or incorporated into GM crops.
GM CROPS CAN BE NUTRITIONALLY ENHANCED Rice is a staple in Golden Rice enhanced with Vitamin A many developing countries. Rice modified to contain beta carotene. Can prevent or treat maternal anemia and blindness. http://www.goldenrice.org/
POTENTIAL RISKS OF GMOS Introducing allergens and toxins to food Antibiotic resistance Accidental contamination of non- genetically modified with genetically modified foods Adversely changing the nutrient content of a crop Creation of "superweeds” and other environmental risks
GM PROCESS IS IMPRECISE Creates mutations within the genome. Leads to multiple, unpredictable effects (genes interact with one another). Potential non- target effects on other organisms or the environment
RISK OF INTRODUCING FOOD ALLERGENS Milk, egg, wheat, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, Question- soybean, shellfish What if the GMO Problem if GMO contains a protein contained allergenic of unknown protein from one of allergenicity? these foods FDA requires evidence that allergenic substances not incorporated into GMO.
ALLERGY ASSESSMENT HAS SHOWN SOMEPROBLEMS: GM pest-resistant pea: study in rats showed GM process can change structure of the engineered protein. GM soybean intended for animal feed was engineered with a gene from Brazil nut. Produced immune reactions in people with Brazil nut allergies. Pioneer Hi-Bred discontinued due to the difficulty in ensuring that it would not enter human food supply.
TWO CASES WITH SUSPECTED LINK TO GMPRODUCTS: 1989– L-tryptophan produced using GM bacteria – killed 37, disabled 1500 more. 2000 – StarLink Maize (corn) Approved only as animal feed but cross- contamination led to… Bt insecticidal protein, Cry9C, caused allergic reactions in humans.
GMOS HAVE ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANTGENES IN THEM Some scientists believe that eating GM food containing these marker genes could encourage gut bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance.
WHAT STUDIES SHOW… Resistance already widespread for antibiotics from which marker genes in commercial use are made (ampicillin). Kanamycin not widely used in human populations. Alternatives to antibiotic marker genes are being investigated.
ARE GM CROPS RIGOROUSLY TESTED?Substantial Equivalence test- Product tested by the manufacturer for unexpected changes in a limited set of components (toxins, nutrients or allergens that are present in the unmodified food). If these tests show no significant difference between the modified and unmodified products, no further food safety testing is required.
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND MEDICALCENTER-“Genetically engineered foods are generally regarded as safe. There has been no adequate testing, however, to ensure complete safety. There are no reports of illness or injury due to genetically engineered foods. Each new genetically engineered food will have to be judged individually.”Visit--http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/testimony/uc m112927.htm
TOO MUCH CONTROL IN CORPORATE HANDS? End-user agreements forbid use of their seeds for independent research. Only studies approved by the company are published. Unflattering results are blocked from publication. Image: Matt Collins, Scientific AmericanElson J. Shields, an entomologist at Cornell University, letter to anofficial at the Environmental Protection Agency
HOW EXTENSIVE IS THE ISSUE? Expertssay 60% to 70% of processed foods on U.S. grocery shelves have genetically modified ingredients. Soybeans Maize Cotton Rapeseed oil (canola) Makes large-scale clinical trials difficult.
TO LABEL OR NOT TO LABEL Currently,food companies arent required by law to label foods containing genetically modified ingredients.
CALIFORNIA PROP 37 (2012): LABELING GE FOODShttp://www.kcet.org/news/ballotbrief/elections2012/propositions/prop-37-genetically-modified-foods-labeling.html
ARE ORGANICALLY GROWN FOODSGMO FREE? Yes! But…cross-contamination of fields is possible and has been reported.Somescientists areconcernedthat open-airexperimentscannot becontained.
WHAT ARE THE ENVIRONMENTALRISKS? Unintended transfer of transgenes through cross-pollination Contamination of non-GMO crops. Unknown effects on other organisms (e.g., soil microbes). Increased herbicide use. Potential for loss of crop biodiversity, relying on only a few cultivars.
CONTAMINATION ISSUES 2011, scientists from the University of Arkansas, North Dakota State University, California State University and the US EPA discovered large persistent populations of genetically engineered canola lining roadsides across North Dakota. Comprised up to 45% of roadside plants sampled. GE Rapeseed was able to hybridize to create novel combinations of transgenic traits.
CONTAMINATION ENDANGERS ORGANICALLY GROWN CROPS Rape seed is very fine. Spills can cause contamination of neighboring fields or in crops rotated in rapeseed fields (such as wheat). Australian organic farmer had his organic certification status pulled because his organic wheat field was contaminated by a nearby genetically-modified (GM) canola field.
PESTICIDEUSE INCREASING, NOTDECREASING GM crops reduced overall pesticide use in the first three years of commercial introduction (1996- 1998) by 1.2%, 2.3%, and 2.3% per year. Increased pesticide use by 20% in 2007 and by 27% in 2008.
“GM crops have increased pesticide useby 383 million pounds in the U.S. in thefirst 13 years since their introduction.” - Charles Benbrook, The OrganicCenter (based on USDA pesticide usedata)http://www.organic-center.org/reportfiles/13Years20091126_FullReport.pdf
LET‟S BREAK THIS DOWN…Over the first 13 years of GMtechnology in the U.S., Modest reduction in insecticide use Dramatic increase in herbicide use
GLYPHOSATE-RESISTANT SUPERWEEDS 21 glyphosate- Recognize these? resistant weeds - Common ragweed worldwide - Kochia Glyphosate- - Annual bluegrass resistant weeds - Johnsongrass identified in 22 U.S. states. www.weedscience.org
STACKED HERBICIDE RESISTANCE Now developing crops with combined resistance to glyphosate and synthetic auxin herbicides (2,4-D). Yikes! Super-duper weeds Further increasing herbicide use Neglect of IPM Palmer‟s pigweed
SUPERWEEDS LESS SUSCEPTIBLE TO DISEASE?Because of changes in soil microbes, "We may be selecting not only for glyphosate resistance, but inadvertently selecting for weeds that have disease resistance as well.“- Schafer, Hallett & Johnson Purdue University, 2012, Weed Science
BT SPRAYS NOT THE SAME AS GM BTCROPS Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a microbe that produces chemicals toxic to insects. Target pests exposed for only a brief period.
POTENTIAL RISKS TO GM WITH BTCROPS: Invasiveness – Few introduced organisms become invasive, yet it‟s a concern for the users. Resistance to Bt – example, diamondback moth Cross-contamination of genes - Although unproven, genes from GM crops can potentially introduce the new genes to native species. University of California San Diego
GM CUT FLOWERS –WHIMSICAL? November 2011, Suntory introduced the first blue rose „APPLAUSE‟ Delphinidin pigment not naturally produced in rose. Inserted delphinidin gene from pansy.
U.S. PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF GMO Pew survey showed that American consumers do not support banning new uses of the technology Rather, they seek an active role from regulators to ensure that new products are safe.
IS THERE AN ALTERNATIVE TO GM TECHNOLOGY? Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) or precision breeding Speeds up conventional breeding process Breeding heirloom tomatoes to be resistant to most common tomato diseases.
CAN GM FEED THE WORLD? Dramatic increases in yield have not been realized. Most GM crops used for biofuels, animal feed, processed foods. Poor farmers cannot afford the technology. GM seed patented; farmers not permitted to save seed.
WHAT‟S NEEDED TO ENSUREGMO SAFETY? Long-term, multi-generational safety trials in animals (no longer possible in humans) Mandatory labeling laws Remove barriers to research that put control in the hands of corporations.
MORE INFORMATION:Anti-GMO perspective: http://earthopensource.org/index.php/report s/58Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods:Approaches to Assessing Unintended HealthEffects http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id= 10977#tocNews updates on GMO issues (globalperspective): http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/home/