Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Scientists Discover New Route for GM-gene 'Escape'

This article can be found on the I-SIS website at
Scientists Discover New Route for GM-gene 'Escape'

Genetically modified genes can jump species via wounds, yes horizontal gene
transfer happens, and at high frequencies; it is the greatest, most underestimated hazard from GMOs released into the environment. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

Please circulate widely and forward to your elected representatives

Gene “escape” a misnomer for horizontal gene transfer

Scientists at Bristol University in the UK announced the discovery of [1] “a
previously unknown route” whereby “GM genes may escape into the natural
environment.” “Escape” is a misnomer. There is no need for the GM (genetically
modified) genes to “escape”, when genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have
been released in great abundance and with gay abandon into the environment over
the past 17 years. At issue is how fast and how widely the GM genes can spread,
and what dire consequences could arise.

The “escape” referred to is horizontal gene transfer – the spread of GM genes by
infection and multiplication (literally like a virus) regardless of species
barriers; hence the rate of spread is much more rapid, and the extent virtually
unlimited. New combinations of genetic material are created at unprecedented
speed; affecting species the most that reproduce the fastest, i.e., bacteria and
viruses that cause diseases. Horizontal gene transfer and recombination is
indeed a main route for generating new strains of bacteria and viruses that
cause diseases. Genetic modification and release of GMOs into the environment is
nothing if not greatly facilitated horizontal gene transfer and recombination.
It has created highways for gene trafficking in place of narrow by-ways and
occasional footpaths that previously existed.

Some of us have long considered horizontal gene transfer to be the most serious
hidden and underestimated hazard of genetic engineering, and have alerted
regulators accordingly, time and again, since GMOs were first released (see for
example [3, 4] (Gene Technology and Gene Ecology of Infectious Diseases, ISIS
scientific publication; Genetic Engineering Dream or Nightmare, ISIS
publication). The recent “emergency” warning sent by a senior US Department of
Agriculture scientist to US Secretary of Agriculture on a suspected pathogen
“new to science” associated with GM crops may prove to be a case in point [5]
(Emergency! Pathogen New to Science Found in Roundup Ready GM Crops? SiS 50).

Plant wounds hotspots for gene trafficking

The researchers at Bristol University showed that plant wounds, that could be
created by insect bites, abrasion and other mechanical damage, are hotspots for
gene trafficking due to the wound hormones produced by the plant. Under such
circumstances, the soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which causes crown
gall disease in plants, could enlarge its host range to infect fungi, and insert
foreign genes into the fungi’s genome [2]. This has large implications on the
safety of GMOs already widely released into the environment.
continued at the link.

This goes very deep. Monsanto denies any transgenic contamination happens- but yet, they have sued farmers over it while blaming the farmers for it. More on that in my next post. Needless to say, horizontal gene transfer that can jump species is a Pandora's box we should never have opened.

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