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Monsanto gets license to create new modified crops using unregulated gene editing

Friday, November 4, 2016 22:28
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gene-editing(NaturalHealth365) The genetic alteration of our food has taken another scary turn. While the use of GMOs (genetically modified food) is still a concern, a new technology has been added to the frightening arsenal of Monsanto and other ‘Frankenfood producers’ – and as of now, it will be largely unregulated. (This technology threatens all of us)

It’s a gene editing technique called CRISPR that allows for the precise tweaking of genes within DNA. CRISPR is an acronym that stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.

Monsanto shocker: CRISPR food are an even greater risk than genetically modified food

The Monsanto company has garnered CRISPR licensing rights from its maker the Broad Institute to help them sidestep the regulations associated with genetically modified food. They have plans to use it in seed development and the ability to “edit” plant traits.

GMO technology works by inserting foreign genes within a plant’s genome at random sites. The random nature means changing the genetic traits of a crop can take years. The original gene is also still present in the genome.

CRISPR is much more targeted and precise, allowing for genome editing that can be passed down to future generations. With CRISPR, just a letter or two within specific genes can be edited for the desired results, instead of introducing whole genes from other organisms. CRISPR can alter genes to make plants more tolerant of stress, pests or disease, and the original non-tolerant gene is no longer present.

CRISPR gains momentum in agriculture despite unknown long-term effects

The Broad Institute has issued over a dozen CRISPR commercial research licenses since 2013 to companies that include GE Healthcare, Evotec and Editas Medicine. Another scientific company Caribou Biosciences is lending its CRISPR technology to agriculture giant DuPont Pioneer.

The use of CRISPR technology allows these big companies to dodge GMO restrictions and requirements, since crops altered with CRISPR aren’t technically GMOs. The US Department of Agriculture says since CRISPR doesn’t insert a foreign gene but instead corrects or deletes it, this technology shouldn’t require the same regulatory approval that GMO crops do.

Needless to say, this is highly alarming. This “logic” assumes that CRISPR poses no risks to the intricate biochemical processes within organisms – or the ecosystem as a whole.

Warning: Development of CRISPR corn and mushrooms almost complete

Two Monsanto crops made with CRISPR – corn and a type of mushroom – are very close to appearing in grocery stores. Other teams of researchers are hard at work around the world trying to develop even more CRISPR crops. Experimentation has already taken place on oranges, wheat, tomatoes, rice, and potatoes.

As of now, Monsanto cannot use the CRISPR technology to engineer “gene drive,” a controversial technique used to spread genetic traits within a whole population without awareness of the consequences. Gene drive can give scientists the power to literally hijack the evolutionary process. At this time, it is not clear whether DuPont’s agreement allows for the use of CRISPR for developing gene drive.

Crazy reality: Despite some restrictions – gene editing will be largely unregulated

Monsanto is not allowed to use CRISPR to make sterile “terminator” seeds either, which have forced farmers to buy new seeds each year. The technology also cannot be used to engineer tobacco for smoking purposes.

Despite these restrictions, the safety and ethical concerns of gene editing remain. The long-term effects on the organisms edited, the humans who consume them, and on the rest of the ecosystem are as yet unknown.  Therefore, for us at NaturalHealth365, the choice is clear: The use of unregulated gene editing represents another strong reason to favor organic produce from local growers – so that you can verify the source (and quality) of what you’re eating.

References:

http://www.businessinsider.com/monsanto-ends-gmo-war-crispr-2016-9

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The post Monsanto gets license to create new modified crops using unregulated gene editing appeared first on Natural Health 365.

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