Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Is New Scientist journal trying to blame the readers?

Recently my favorite New Scientist Journal has published the article "Conventional crop breeding may be more harmful than GM" (print version), where it disputes risk of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) of resistant variety of oilseed rape (canola), which was unveiled by BASF company last week. Article was published in context of another article "GM faces unfair regulation in Europe" and its GMO supporting bias is apparent.



Unfortunately, author of this editorial Mr. Andy Coghlan apparently missed (?) the fact, rape cultivar was produced by newly patented "proprietary" and "inovative gene conversion technology" developed artificially by "trait development company" Cibus, San Diego, CA, which is apparently proud of it. The RTDS method (i.e. Rapid Trait Development System), which BASF has used IS NOT a "conventional crop breeding" at all - it's a method known as "directed mutagenesis". This approach interferes with the cell's natural process of gene repair by directing DNA repair enzymes to change targeted genes in a specific way in order to produce a desired trait. It's not surprising, all details of this "conventional breeding method" are kept in secret thoroughly. By another words, despite this method it's called a "non-transgenic approach", it's just another artificial method, how to introduce anomalous genes for production of foreign metabolites inside of GMO plants.

My suspicion, editorial staff of New Scientist journal is aware of this apparent manipulation of readers deepened, when my question, regarding this issue was deleted from discussion thread bellow article in six minute period (see the screenshot of on-line discussion bellow) - as the only comment of the discussion thread. The very same censorship has occured, when I published similar comment under different nick one hour later for check. What the "unfair regulation" we are facing here?



To make things more clear, main problem of GMO crops isn't the artificial way of GMO crops production as such, but the introduction of foreign genes and their expressors into plant population, where the horizontal gene transfer (HGT) may occur via various mechanisms. Such mechanism was proven to be real many times for GMO crops. It's risks are summarized in previous post on this blog.

Here's a non trivial environmental threat regarding GMO technologies - but a huge money too. These two factors are driving force for promotion of methods, like the RTDS. While classical transgenic methods were banned in many countries, in Europe in particular, various companies are still trying another and another methods, how to evade these restrictions. What's even worse, these new methods are becoming even more risky to life environment, then classical transgenic methods, as the NS article inadvertently illustrates.

14 comments:

johnyhilfiger said...

Congratulations on the article very well documented. It`s strange that Scientist`s editors banned your comment. It will remain on my site and probably I will put a references to your article in the future. Best regards!

Zephir said...

Thanks Johny, for moral support..

In fact NewScientist's editors are deleting approximately 50% of my posts by criterions, which aren't always quite clear for me - but in this situation their censorship was targeted apparently.

Zephir said...

Thank you. The falsification of reality in NS article is one point, the role of GMO the other though.

The situation is not so transparent here: GMO can save people against famine by the same way, like they can cause it. It's not matter of ideology, but precautionary_principle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precautionary_principle

So we should understand genetic manipulations to be able to produce the GMO crops in large scales when necessary - but we should be able to explain the rise of allergies, sudden dissapearance of beetles, bees, humble bees, bats, sparrows and other organisms - or GMO may become the most expensive experiment of human history.

And we should learn, how to produce food in large scales WITHOUT GMO cheating as well. Ancient peasants were able to keep the pest resistence high by frequent tree breeding, for example, i.e. by artificial increase of mutation frequency. These mutuations were limited though, so they didn't interfere environmental equilibria.

Zephir said...

/*...only natural cereals... are grown in Campos de Castilla... */

They appear exactly like default Windows XP background - you can ask for copyright...

http://www.microsoft.com/library/media/1033/windowsxp/images/using/setup/expert/easeofuse01.jpg

El Cid said...

[I don't know if this image has copyright, but I can see this landscape every spring for free. Just in case, I will replace my comment by other equal and with other image of Castille (from wikipedia). A image with the wall of Avila, to prevent that the GM crops go into my country.]

Zephir great post. I've just read it.

I'd like to say, that I completely agree with you about this issue. We have to be careful, because the economic interests often are more strong than the determination of the governments to protect the environment. So far, we have an only livable planet and we must care for it. I'm very proud of that only natural cereals , which have not been genetically modified, are grown in Campos de Castilla.

Anonymous said...

"In fact NewScientist's editors are deleting approximately 50%.."zeph = dummy!

Michael said...

I think you've completely misunderstood the NS article. The point is that the BASF crop doesn't count as a GM crop, technically, because no genes were added.

In other words, as far as regulators are concerned, the BASF crop was produced by "conventional breeding".

Yes, that's stupid. That's what the article is saying

Zephir said...

A new genes were still created there - just inside of organism by using of DNA repair mechanisms on artificially induced genome change, instead of pure transgenic way. Technically it's analogy of mutagenesis induced by various mutagens or radioactivity - not "classical breeding" in any way.

With respect of risk of horizontal gene transfer such mutagenesis is nearly as risky as common transgenic methods from obvious reasons, because produced organisms contains new genes, which aren't in equilibrium with natural genome, i.e. they're metastable in contact with life environment and they can spread in in in uncontrollable way.

Zephir said...

Monsanto 'faked' data for approvals claims its ex-chief. By Jagadisan, 84 Monsanto used to fake scientific data submitted to government regulatory agencies to get commercial approvals for its products in India.

Zephir said...

author says superbug report is fudged and funded by big pharma companies. I've no other sources of information about it - I'm just posting it here only for completeness.

Zephir said...

GM food banned in Monsanto canteen

Zephir said...

Roundup found to be 125 times more toxic than glyphosate : This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.

Zephir said...

It's time all clinical trial results are reported

Zephir said...

Here's an instructive piece on how tobacco companies attempted to confuse the science about tobacco and health. Monsanto does the very same. That retraction was initiated just with Monsanto. But Seraliniho results are widely supported with other scientists and independent research studies.