Sunday, March 31, 2013

New GMO Gene Silencing Technology – Backdoor Terminator?

New GMO Gene Silencing Technology – Backdoor Terminator?
Mar 30, 2013 | Farm Wars | Barbara H. Peterson

Almost two years ago, I surmised that the complete deregulation of Scott’s genetically engineered Kentucky Bluegrass was the opening salvo leading to the implementation of Terminator technology, which renders seeds from GM plants sterile, that could pass completely under any sort of regulatory process.
Watch and wait for the Terminator to be released without any regulation or oversight, due to this new deregulation salvo launched on the American public. The stage is set. First take over all plant life with genetically modified plants, then introduce the Terminator to wrap it all up in a pretty package. LINK
A 1999 paper on Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURT) from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) makes it clear that the Terminator, at the time the paper was written, was simply waiting for the right gene expression technology to become available in order to become more reliable and cost-effective:
GENETIC USE RESTRICTION TECHNOLOGIES
Technical Assessment of the Set of New Technologies which Sterilize or Reduce the Agronomic Value of Second Generation Seed, as Exemplified by U.S. Patent No. 5,723,765, and WO 94/03619

The V-GURT described as ’ Terminator’ in the media has many features that, upon scientific analysis with an awareness of commercial standards, indicate that in our opinion this particular implementation would be unlikely to meet  industry requirements for robustness, reliability or cost -effectiveness until new gene expression technology is available.
Well, here we are, almost two years after Scott’s successfully fired the first round in the deregulation process in 2011, and what do we have? A new type of genetic engineering process that bypasses all regulations, AND may just be the long-awaited new gene expression technology that could successfully launch the Terminator.

This new process uses RNA, which can effectively silence genes, and it’s heading our way, fast.
…there is a new type of GM plant now being made. These are not designed to make a new protein, but to just make a new RNA molecule. However, the RNA molecule made is different to the single-stranded mRNA described earlier, because it is either double-stranded (dsRNA) or it is designed to find another single-stranded RNA molecule and bind to it to create a dsRNA molecule. These dsRNA molecules have important roles in cells. For example, they can silence or activate genes. For this to happen, the order of the nucleotide units in the dsRNA molecule is crucial. A different sequence can result in the dsRNA having different effects, and silencing or activating a different gene, or multiple other genes. LINK
The new technology can silence or activate targeted genes in plants, and the genetically engineered RNA used in the process can conceivably horizontally transfer to people who eat the plants, or even handle them:
Last year, a high profile scientific paper was published that showed that dsRNA molecules produced in non-GM plants can be taken into the bodies of people who eat the plant. The dsRNA from the plant was found circulating in blood, indicating that it survives cooking and digestion.  
Research has also shown that:
*at least one dsRNA produced in plants (called mir168a) can change the expression of genes in mice; and
*dsRNA (mir168a) can change the expression of a gene in human cells growing in tissue culture.
Therefore, there is a real risk that the dsRNA produced by these new GM crops could survive digestion in people and change how those people’s genes are expressed. These effects of dsRNA were predicted long ago by some scientists. The proof has now arrived. LINK
Recent research has shown that dsRNAs can transfer from plants to humans and other animals through food.  Potentially, they could also be transferred into people by inhaling dust from the plant (e.g., breathing in flour from GM wheat while baking with it), or by absorption through the skin. LINK
The company who invented this technology, which is currently available for licensing, is called CSIRO:
CSIRO’s gene silencing technology
Developed at CSIRO’s Plant Industry division the hairpin RNA interference (hairpinRNAi) technology is used to silence genes by turning the activity of the gene off or down. LINK
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT GENE SILENCING PDF sheet
This new process is set to replace current GM technology:
All commercialized genetically modified (GM) plants are currently created through in vitro DNA modification. Most are designed to create a new protein. However, a growing minority are designed to change their RNA content in order to regulate gene expression (Table 1). This is because RNA, specifically double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), is now known to be an important regulator of gene expression (Appendix 1 of Heinemann, 2009). In fact, in the future, GM products are likely to arise from only in vitro RNA modification rather than from in vitro DNA modification (Heinemann, 2009). LINK
Why is current regulation useless? Because…
There are the ONLY two ways that GMOs can be regulated by the USDA. The genetic engineering process itself is not considered a factor in determining if a plant should fall under regulation by the USDA. If a “plant pest” designated by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is used in the genetic engineering process, then the plant falls under APHIS’ regulatory authority. Also, if a plant is considered a noxious weed by APHIS, then its GMO counterpart can be considered a noxious weed.

Conversely, if neither condition exists, then the plant falls through the loophole, and is deregulated completely. No oversight whatsoever. APHIS has no grounds on which to enforce regulations.
LINK
…government regulators:
*dismissed any need for any assessment of the sequence of the nucleotides in the dsRNAs produced by GM plants;
*seemed to assume that dsRNAs produced by these plants are much the same as the more fragile single-stranded RNAs (eg mRNA), and therefore would not survive cooking and digestion; and
*claimed that these new dsRNA molecules are safe because humans and non-target animals would simply not be exposed to them. LINK
To our surprise, we found that there are no internationally agreed protocols or even guidelines for how to conduct a thorough and proper risk assessment on products with new dsRNA molecules in them… LINK
Scott’s fired the round that clearly punched a hole through the flimsy GMO regulations that are already in place, and succeeded in placing a completely unregulated GMO grass on the market. Now we have another unregulated GM technology ready to replace the old, and it doesn’t look like any valid oversight or risk assessments are going to take place any time soon. And this technology actually targets gene expression – exactly what is needed for implementation of the Terminator. And it doesn’t stop with plants.

If you haven’t started your own food production and seed saving project, now is the time to do so before it’s too late. Sterility is no laughing matter, and it appears to be on its way – for plants, animals, insects and humans. Why don’t we just spell it out for the hard of hearing  – PLANETWIDE STERILITY for anything but patented seed that must be purchased every year from your friendly biotech representative, or simply do not eat. It’s your choice. And if you do eat, don’t count on having children of your own.

©2013 Barbara H. Peterson

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