Barbara H. Peterson
Designer Species – Recreating the world in our own image…
The game is rigged. The fix is in. Has been for a while, we’ve just been bandied about and hoodwinked into thinking that we can change the fact that corporations in league with the corporate government really do not care about our health or our very existence other than our worth as worker bees and “consumers” of whatever garbage they want to put on our plates.
The “label it” campaign was a farce, ripe for deception. It did, however, prolong our hopes until a more deceptive form of genetic engineering would take the stage and flood the kitchen with manufactured food-like organisms that have been designed to fly completely under the radar and any phony labeling laws. Eat up, America. Just don’t ask what it is you are putting in your mouths.
The ‘New And Improved’ Genetic Engineering
What we have seen thus far in the field of genetic engineering has been just the awkward beginnings of a plan to re-engineer the world and all of its various organisms into a ‘new and improved’ version (didn’t they say that about the last con they were selling?), created in a lab and designed to replace all that is natural.
According to proponents of this scheme, the world and its life forms as they exist are inconvenient, imperfect, not acceptable, and drastically need revision in order to be sustainable, green, healthy, and oh yes, let’s not forget, able to ‘end hunger’ and ‘feed the world.’ Lies. All lies.
There is an exciting new player in the ever-expanding field of genome editing. In a study reported in the January 2013 issue of Science, two groups—Cong et al.1 and Mali et al.2—explored the limits and adaptability of a prokaryotic RNA-based system for mammalian genome-wide editing. This new method of genome engineering is derived from an adaptive immune system known as CRISPR (Clustered Regulatory Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) that bacteria and archaea use as a means to protect themselves against foreign invasive elements. These two studies show that the CRISPR system is an efficient method to alter mammalian genomes. At present, four types of discrete systems have been shown to generate, to different degrees of specificity and efficiency, genome-wide editing: three distinct protein-based nuclease systems,3,4,5 a chemical-based nuclease system,6 an adeno-associated virus (AAV)–based system,7 and now a protein RNA–based system.1,2
Resistance Is (Almost) Futile – Monsanto Is Upgrading The Borg
The first step in flooding the world with this new RNA technology lies in pesticide sprays.
It’s called the “BioDirect” initiative and it will eliminate costly resistance to glyphosate, eradicate vexingly resilient insects with “biopesticides” and even modify the genetic code of a plant by simply spritzing it with an RNA-infused surfactant spray. The technology is called “RNA interference” (RNAi) and it heralds a brave new world of profitability for agrochemical corporations. It also opens a Pandora’s box full of as-yet unanswered ethical questions about genetic drift, patenting plants on the fly and, most ominously, whether RNAi can, should or will be weaponized like another Monsanto product — Agent Orange.
RNAi technology hijacks DNA’s messenger system — the ribonucleic acid (RNA) that carries out DNA’s instructions. In effect, RNAi sends human-made messages that can, in turn, alter or kill its target by scrambling cellular functions, turning off organs, dropping resistance to a herbicide (glyphosate) or altering the DNA’s command system to produce an artificial gene expression.
The real issue is whether the next best move after drenching the planet in pesticides is to then start pumping out RNAi biopesticides.
RNAi pesticides appear to be next in line behind Roundup, which is coming under increased scrutiny ever since its main ingredient, Glyphosate, was declared a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
Now, instead of conceding and working with nature, they are counterattacking with RNAi technology. Why? Because sales are flagging. The market is literally oversaturated with glyphosate. And Monsanto wants to extend the life and profitability of Roundup by knocking out resistance at the cellular level.
As a result, we face the unknown consequences of introducing a tidal wave of RNA into ecosystems that are not adapted to a sudden influx of genetic messages. Just think about that for a minute. Antonio Regalado pointed out in MIT Technology Review, “RNA may be natural … but introducing large amounts of targeted RNA molecules into the environment is not.”
The USDA and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have already signed off on RNAi apples engineered by a Canadian company and although Monsanto is still awaiting approval, a 2014 statement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicates that their RNAi may already be baked into your cake…
…With Monsanto’s scientists pushing favourable papers at the EPA and with farmers who are supportive of agrochemical options clamouring for new GMO herbicide technology, it sure seems like resistance to their solution to glyphosate resistance is futile.
And the goal for Monsanto regarding these new pesticides? Not to provide an end-fix to the problem it created, but to prolong the life of the pesticide for added company profit. The company knows the effectiveness of any new creation will not last forever.
Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s chief technology officer, explained that RNAi was highly specific to the targeted pest. That requires added work on the front end to identify the genes for “interference.” Being specific won’t eliminate concerns with resistance, but should prolong the life of these pest control tools.
Regulations? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Regulations!
And the master plan is as it has always been – get the technology out there and into the public arena before any pesky regulatory committee needs to get paid off to pass flimsy regulations in favor of corporate interests. After all, any time you can save a buck, do so.
Nina Holland, researcher for Corporate Europe Observatory, says: “The biotech industry has waged an under-the-radar campaign to get new GM products absolved from GM regulation. The TTIP negotiations are seen by industry across the board and the US government as the perfect opportunity to block EU processes that are supposed to protect public health and the environment. The regulation of new GM techniques is a case in point.”
CRISPR-Cas9 – On To Editing Living Organisms With RNA Technology
Sprayable pesticides are just the first step. After all, who wouldn’t want a new and improved pesticide that you can simply spray on a plant and only certain plant pests bite the dust? And people will buy it hook, line and sinker. Just like they did the Roundup lie.
After that, it’s a case of ‘anything goes.’ RNA technology will be accepted. At least that is what the biotech industry is counting on. So, it’s on to crops. Why not? After all, it’s benign. Or so we think. We really don’t know, but a mere technicality such as that shouldn’t stand in the way of progress.
How will we deal with prospects for editing the genes of organisms in living environments?
In the realm of agriculture, that’s no longer hypothetical.
Since its 2013 demonstration as a genome editing tool in Arabidopsis and tobacco — two widely used laboratory plants — CRISPR has been road-tested in crops, including wheat, rice, soybeans, potatoes, sorghum, oranges and tomatoes. By the end of 2014, a flood of research into agricultural uses for CRISPR included a spectrum of applications, from boosting crop resistance to pests to reducing the toll of livestock disease.
What’s In Your Body?
But wait! It appears that some gene edited crops are already here, and using a different technique than CRISPR, totally unregulated, and flying completely under the radar.
Meanwhile, the first commercially available gene edited crop — produced using not CRISPR but another form of gene editing known as RTDS — has already appeared: an oilseed rape created by Cibus, a San Diego–based company. The rape has been altered for herbicide resistance, enabling farmers to spray their crop with weed killer. According to Nature, Cibus is marketing the product as non–genetically modified, since only a few snippets of the plant’s existing genes have been changed and “no gene has been inserted from a different kind of organism, nor even from another plant.” Even though RTDS is a different system than CRISPR, the similarities are sufficient enough that identical policy and regulatory questions apply to both.
Labeling makes no difference at all if that label does not reflect that any genetic engineering has taken place when in reality, it has. Just another sleight of hand by our corporate manipulators. Oh, they will get around to making some sort of regulatory statement sooner or later, but rest assured, whatever they decide, it won’t be in our best interests, but in the interests of corporate profit. And only until after the damage is done and we are well on our way to being saturated in the stuff.
Pesticides, Crops, Then Critters, Oh My!
Reports suggest that an entire barnyard of edited animals destined for industrial agriculture is rapidly filling the R&D pipeline. Recombinetics, a start-up firm, made headlines with hornless dairy cattle carrying a smidgen of genes from naturally smooth-headed beef cows. The company is now working on Brazilian beef cattle with larger muscles (for more meat, which may be more tender), while other firms are developing chickens that only produce female offspring (for egg-laying) and beef cattle that only produce males (for more efficient feed-to-meat conversion).
With respect to gene drives, while agriculture remains at the periphery thus far, researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have outlined heady prospects. Gene drives could “pave the way toward sustainable agriculture,” they suggest, by reversing pesticide resistance in insects and herbicide resistance in weeds. Drive systems could also destroy or modify pesky plant pests and squelch populations of invasive species, such as rats and kudzu.
A CRISPR-tweaked farm system could have a smaller environmental footprint and even humanitarian benefits, if it means farmers don’t have to dehorn cattle or cull their male bulls.
As mentioned above, among the agricultural applications of CRISPR in the research pipeline are those that would alter the biology of insects and weeds — in some cases, editing genes to overcome resistance to pesticides and herbicides. CRISPR-assisted gene drive technology could propel such mutations through populations in the wild, creating the potential to modify entire plant or animal communities over just a few years.
Pave the way towards sustainable agriculture? Humane? Just who are they trying to kid? If Monsanto had not dowsed the world in deadly poisons, agriculture would be sustainable. Now that the ground has been poisoned, people are dying from cancer and all sorts of pesticide-induced illnesses, Monsanto and the biotech industry have the cojones to tell us that they will solve the problem by using a new and unproven gene editing technique to fix the problem created by them? Seriously? And not to mention that cows grow horns just like we grow feet. And hands. And noses. Horns are simply inconvenient for us. What’s next, beakless chickens? People with six hands so they can do more work for their employers? Humans are not exempt from the genetic mayhem by any means.
Chimeras Are Gestating on U.S. Research Farms
A radical new approach to generating human organs is to grow them inside pigs or sheep.
The experiments rely on a cutting-edge fusion of technologies, including recent breakthroughs in stem-cell biology and gene-editing techniques. By modifying genes, scientists can now easily change the DNA in pig or sheep embryos so that they are genetically incapable of forming a specific tissue. Then, by adding stem cells from a person, they hope the human cells will take over the job of forming the missing organ, which could then be harvested from the animal for use in a transplant operation.
“We can make an animal without a heart. We have engineered pigs that lack skeletal muscles and blood vessels,” says Daniel Garry, a cardiologist who leads a chimera project at the University of Minnesota. While such pigs aren’t viable, they can develop properly if a few cells are added from a normal pig embryo. Garry says he’s already melded two pigs in this way and recently won a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Army, which funds some biomedical research, to try to grow human hearts in swine.
Do you really think that this will stop at human organs grown in pigs? Why not just create a ‘sustainable’ human? Maybe we can create one that doesn’t need to eat real food. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” was prophetic. We are being engineered. This experiment is being conducted in plain sight with the approval of your friendly corporate government. The tools for its implementation are most likely already on your plate, in your field, in your water supply, and are flooding your body as I type.
One thing is certain – no one knows where this will lead. If anyone says they do know the long term implications of tweaking nature to suit some phony scientist’s vision of a perfect genetically engineered world, that person is a liar.
And this is just the beginning…
©2016 Barbara H. Peterson