GMO Taro By: Kentrel Brown Daniel Lee Irene Wilbanks
What is GMO Taro <ul><li>GMO stands for “genetically modified organism” </li></ul><ul><li>Genes from other organisms such as grape, wheat, or corn are inserted to add features such as resistance to disease and pests; many other features are possible </li></ul><ul><li>Genes can be taken from any organism, including bacteria </li></ul>
GMOs in Hawaii <ul><li>Papaya genetically modified to be resistant to ringspot virus in 1998 </li></ul><ul><li>GMO papaya tree resistant to virus but susceptible to black spot fungus </li></ul><ul><li>Must be sprayed for fungus every 10 days </li></ul><ul><li>Contaminated 50% of organic, conventional and wild papayas on Big Island </li></ul><ul><li>Modified papaya unknowingly spread between farms </li></ul>
GMOs in Hawaii <ul><li>Japan and South Korea stopped buying Hawaiian papayas due to concerns of GMO contamination </li></ul><ul><li>Farmers who ship papaya to Japan have to spend on expensive tests for GMO contamination </li></ul><ul><li>Allergens were found in the GMO papaya </li></ul>
Risks of GMO Taro <ul><li>Contamination of stocks of original taro with GMO varieties </li></ul><ul><li>GMO plants look just like normal plants </li></ul><ul><li>Farmers often share huli (cuttings) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They can accidentally share GMO huli and confuse them with conventional varieties </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Once released, genetic pollution can’t be cleaned up </li></ul>
Virus Risks <ul><li>GM may result in the emergence of new viruses. The most usual way to genetically modify an organism is to insert the new gene with some other genetic material, called a promoter. The promoter's goal is to guide the new gene towards the desired effect. The added hereditary sequence often comes from viruses and can be rejected and transferred to other places on the genome, other cells or even other organisms - it could activate genetic sequences containing latent viruses of the genome. </li></ul>
Virus Risks <ul><li>Due to the instability generated through the insertion of the gene and the hereditary material, these viruses may move into other living beings, including humans, and evolve into dangerous forms. </li></ul><ul><li>The following is taken in part from Twin (Third World Network) 'GMO risks and hazards: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence of risk'. </li></ul><ul><li>In order to increase milk production in cows, a genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (BGH) was injected into cows. Manufacturers of BGH claimed it was identical to the natural product, but it was subsequently demonstrated by independent research that epsilon-N-acethyllysine was substituted for lysine in the engineered hormone - such amino acid substitution may have unpredictable consequences for the conformation and function of proteins, and recent research indicates that milk from BGH treated cows may contribute to increased breast cancer in humans. </li></ul>
Research Highlights Risk of using Viral Promoter Genes in New Foods <ul><li>Fragments of artificial genes inserted into foods were detected in the brain cells of baby mice in research conducted Dr. Walter Doefler of the Institute of Genetics, University of Cologne.(1) Conventional wisdom had previously assumed that genetic material was destroyed in the process of digestion. The research emerged on the UTV World in Action programme last Monday. </li></ul><ul><li>"This has huge implications for the use of genetically engineered foods" said Quentin Gargan of Genetic Concern. "Industry would have us believe that genetic engineering is a simple technology in which a single naturally occurring gene is taken from one plant and inserted into another, but nothing could be further from the truth". </li></ul>
Research Highlights Risk of using Viral Promoter Genes in New Foods <ul><li>We may have a gene which gives us blue eyes, and this gene exists in every cell in our body - part of this gene is a promoter region which ensures that it is only switched on in cells in our eyes - otherwise, every part of our body would be blue from our hair to our toenails. </li></ul><ul><li>When genes are inserted into a plant, they are accompanied by a promoter region from a virus. This promoter ensures that the gene is switched on at all times and in all parts of the plant. Viruses such as the cauliflower mosaic virus and a figwort virus have promoter regions which are highly active, and these are included in genes which were inserted into the sugar beet currently being tested in field trials by Monsanto around the country. </li></ul><ul><li>"The idea that fragments of DNA from viral promoters could find their way into cells of new born babies is a frightening prospect", said Mr Gargan "yet Monsanto admitted in the World in Action programme that they do not conduct long term testing of these genetically engineered foods". </li></ul>
Our Opinion <ul><li>I am aware of scientifically based arguments against GMO taro, and I find them very relevant to the discussion. Furthermore, I know that not all Hawaiians are objectors and not all objectors are Hawaiians. Thus, I do not find the title appropriate in this case. </li></ul><ul><li>As for the content itself, my point was that there are many ways to look at subjective, emotionally entrenched issues. I know that the taro is our brother, in a manner of speaking. We share a common ancestor some hundred million years ago. But I was suggesting that if one variety of taro is sacred, then they all are sacred. Specifically breeding a new variety should not void that sanctity. </li></ul><ul><li>If I saw a genetically altered human with green skin who could snap flies from the air with her tongue, I would still have to view her as human, deserving of all the rights and privileges thereof. I would still consider her sacred because I consider all human beings sacred. Whether I would want to reproduce with her is another matter, but one can get used to anything, right? That genetic variation may have its own advantages. </li></ul>
Our Opinion cont. I then applied this concept to the argument that scientists are tampering with a sacred plant to create some hybrid abomination and thought that it sounded like they are discriminating against the poor GMO taro. For those who agree that all forms of life are equally sacred, there should be no objection to what I said. I don't see how our government, which is supposed to represent everyone fairly, can become involved in taking sides in such emotional debates that have no concrete or well-founded basis. What they can do, instead, is review evidence based on fact and render decisions based on logic. Some people do not feel that way about the role of government, and I am willing to entertain a discussion on that, too, provided that someone can say more than "that doesn't feel right to me."
Say No to GMO Taro <ul><li>Please tell your representatives you do not want genetically modified taro in Hawaii </li></ul>
Sources “ Reasons to Say No to GMO Taro”. 3/17/09. http://www.fao.org/english/newsroom/focus/2003/gmo8.htm “ Kalo Mo’olelo”. Lo’i Virtual Field Trip . 3/1/09. http://ksdl.ksbe.edu/loi/moolelo-kalo.html “ Walter Ritte & Jerry Konanui talk about GMO Taro”. KKCR Sustainability Radio Show . 10/19/07. Malama Kaua’i. http://malamakauai.org/radio/RS_071019.php Miyasaka, Susan. “Research Project to Develop Taro with Increased Fungal Disease Resistance”. 8/16/05. 3/1/09. http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/gmo/image/GETaro-Handout-Aug05.pdf
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