By Anne Dietrich
Luther Burbank did not develop the russet potato by using the techniques of genetic engineering; neither did Herbert Mendel, the father of modern genetics, or Norman Borlaug. Genetically engineered ‘Bt’ corn is produced by taking DNA from one life form (bacillus thuringiensis) belonging to one domain: (Bacteria); and engineering it into another life form (corn) belonging to another domain (Eukarya). Unlike traditional breeding or hybridization, genetic engineering takes place outside the natural reproductive context, in a manner that could never occur in nature – by forcibly violating the natural barriers that exist between species.
1) When DNA is imported from one species to another (or even when the DNA of a single organism is genetically engineered), the physiology and the behavior of the organism are permanently altered.
2) The quality of the food and feed produced from the genetically engineered seed is affected.
3) Animals and humans who eat genetically engineered food and feed are affected in unpredictable and harmful ways.
4) The genetically engineered seed passes on its man-made genetic code to future generations. Unlike a horse and a donkey, which, when mated, produce offspring that are sterile (mules) – genetically engineered seed remains capable of reproducing itself, forever contaminating the genetic pool.
The Nature Institute has posted a study on its website documenting the unintended effects of genetic engineering on more than thirty-five species of plants and animals, including humans. It has collected examples from the scientific literature and written short reports on each example. This compilation is by no means exhaustive, and the literature still to be reviewed is extensive. Its list of more than eighty published studies is available at: http://natureinstitute.org/nontarget/browse_titles.htm. By clicking on the title of each report, one can view the intended (‘target’) effect of each transgenic experiment, the unintended (‘non-target’) results, who funded the project, author affiliations, and the commercial status of the genetically engineered organism. In light of the evidence, the frequently heard claim that genetic manipulation of organisms is a ‘precise science’ without dramatic risks can no longer be honestly made.
How can we allow the genetic code of the world’s major food crops, trees, and other species to be permanently altered? How can businesses, which now own more than 75% of the seed supply, patent these novel ‘life forms’ and claim there is no difference between genetically engineered corn and conventional corn? How can we allow food made from genetically engineered seed to be sold without labeling it?
Anne Dietrich, was an Iowa farm wife and mother of six, who has been advocating for pure food for twenty years. She leads a grass-roots national campaign in the U.S. to pass the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, which requires labeling of food containing genetically engineered organisms.