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Biotechnology confusion: Differences among GMOs, gene editing and genetic engineering – Genetic Literacy Project

Your body contains trillions of cells which make up the physical you. Each one of these cells has a blueprint that is completely unique to you, called yourDNA.

In order to read all that information on your DNA, we use machines that do gene sequencing. A gene is a distinct stretch of DNA that determines something about who you are. Gene sequencing is where we can go through and laboriously read every single character in your DNA and then store it in a big file.

What if we couldchange genes in order to start changing your attributes? This is now possible using a technology calledgene editing.This is where we are able to precisely snip sections of DNA from the strand and then replace them with our own snippets.

All these methods fall under the envelope of genetic engineering. Consequently, gene editing is just another form of genetic engineering.

Genetic engineering is the direct manipulation of an organisms DNA using any number of methods. GMO is the genetic modification of organisms. Its been around for a while and uses imprecise methods of genetic engineering. Gene editing is now a more precise method of genetic engineering which hopes to avoid any bad associations with GMO.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: GMO vs Gene Editing vs Genetic Engineering

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Biotechnology confusion: Differences among GMOs, gene editing and genetic engineering – Genetic Literacy Project

Avoiding CRISPR-Mediated Gene-DriveEvolved Resistance in Mosquitoes – Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (blog)

Gene drives are used to bias genetic inheritance in favor of rapidly spreading, self-destructive genes and could be an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to suppress populations of disease-spreading insects. The rise of CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology has recently revolutionized gene-drive systems because it offers a rapid, efficient, and reliable way to make precise, targeted changes to the genome.

The new study based its calculations on past gene-drive findings that resulted in up to 99% of offspring inheriting the inserted gene. However, the few offspring that don’t inherit the gene present a big problem for this technology. Since a fraction of these offspring is immune to the gene drive, any attempt to eliminate a mosquito species in this manner would result in a rapid rebound of those that are gene-drive immune. The impact of this resistance on the ability of gene drive to spread and suppress populations had previously been discussedbut had not been thoroughly evaluated.

The mathematical modeling that the investigators utilized found that the gene-driveevolved resistance would have a major impact on attempts to eliminate a mosquito species on a continent-wide scale. To address this issue, the research team devised a technique that they determined could potentially suppress mosquito species continent-wide.

Employing a strategy called multiplexing, which involves using one of the components of the CRISPR system, a gRNA, to target multiple locations in a gene at once, the research team suggested that the size of the population that could be suppressed increases exponentially with the number of these gRNAs utilized. It also shows that with four or five multiplexed gRNAs, a mosquito species could potentially be suppressed on a continental scale.

“Knowing that we can potentially overcome the issues of resistance through careful engineering and multiplexing is huge,” noted senior study investigator Omar Akbari, Ph.D., assistant professor of entomology at UC Riverside.

The researchers demonstrated the technology was feasible using a fruit fly model. Now they are working to adapt this technology to the mosquito species that transmit malaria, dengue, and Zika.

“The potential of multiplexing is vast. With one gRNA, we could suppress a room of mosquitoes,” Dr. Marshall concluded. With four, we could potentially suppress a continent and the diseases they transmit. But nature has a knack for finding a way around hurdles, so assessing that potential will require a lot more work.”

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Avoiding CRISPR-Mediated Gene-DriveEvolved Resistance in Mosquitoes – Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (blog)

Genetic engineering tool generates antioxidant-rich purple rice – Phys.Org

June 27, 2017 A photograph of purple endosperm rice. Credit: Qinlong Zhu of the South China Agricultural University

Researchers in China have developed a genetic engineering approach capable of delivering many genes at once and used it to make rice endospermseed tissue that provides nutrients to the developing plant embryoproduce high levels of antioxidant-boosting pigments called anthocyanins. The resulting purple endosperm rice holds potential for decreasing the risk of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic disorders. The work appears June 27th in the journal Molecular Plant.

“We have developed a highly efficient, easy-to-use transgene stacking system called TransGene Stacking II that enables the assembly of a large number of genes in single vectors for plant transformation,” says senior study author Yao-Guang Liu of the South China Agricultural University. “We envisage that this vector system will have many potential applications in this era of synthetic biology and metabolic engineering.”

To date, genetic engineering approaches have been used to develop rice enriched in beta-carotene and folate, but not anthocyanins. Although these health-promoting compounds are naturally abundant in some black and red rice varieties, they are absent in polished rice grains because the husk, bran, and germ have been removed, leaving only the endosperm.

Previous attempts to engineer anthocyanin production in rice have failed because the underlying biosynthesis pathway is highly complex, and it has been difficult to efficiently transfer many genes into plants.

To address this challenge, Liu and his colleagues first set out to identify the genes required to engineer anthocyanin production in the rice endosperm. To do so, they analyzed sequences of anthocyanin pathway genes in different rice varieties and pinpointed the defective genes in japonica and indica subspecies that do not produce anthocyanins.

Based on this analysis, they developed a transgene stacking strategy for expressing eight anthocyanin pathway genes specifically in the endosperm of the japonica and indica rice varieties. The resulting purple endosperm rice had high anthocyanin levels and antioxidant activity in the endosperm. “This is the first demonstration of engineering such a complex metabolic pathway in plants,” Liu says.

In the future, this transgene stacking vector system could be used to develop plant bioreactors for the production of many other important nutrients and medicinal ingredients. For their own part, the researchers plan to evaluate the safety of purple endosperm rice as biofortified food, and they will also try to engineer the biosynthesis of anthocyanins in other crops to produce more purple endosperm cereals.

“Our research provides a high-efficiency vector system for stacking multiple genes for synthetic biology and makes it potentially feasible for engineering complex biosynthesis pathways in the endosperm of rice and other crop plants such as maize, wheat, and barley,” Liu says.

Explore further: The origin and spread of ‘Emperor’s rice’

More information: Molecular Plant, Zhu et al.: “Development of ”Purple Endosperm Rice” by Engineering Anthocyanin Biosynthesis in the Endosperm with a High-Efficiency Transgene Stacking System” http://www.cell.com/molecular-plant/abstract/S1674-2052(17)30140-5 , DOI: 10.1016/j.molp.2017.05.008

Journal reference: Molecular Plant

Provided by: Cell Press

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Genetic engineering tool generates antioxidant-rich purple rice – Phys.Org

Simple, affordable tests can prevent genetic disorders – Khaleej Times

Premarital tests are so important, but what’s most important is for couples to understand the consequences of their union

Over 400 genetic disorders are present among the UAE’s populace, however, its continued spread can be prevented by simple and affordable tests, some costing as little as Dh30, according to local health experts.

Dr Ebtehaj Al Anizi, Obstetrics and Gynaecology specialist, told Khaleej Times that genetic disorder prevention tests are crucial, especially when it comes to consanguineous marriages. However, she stressed that not all couples take the results, nor the doctor’s advice seriously, leading to devastating consequences for their offspring’s health.

“As marriage between relatives is common in the region, so is the risk of genetic diseases. A lot of high risk couples do no listen to us when advised not to go ahead with the marriage,” Dr Al Anizi said.

Dr Al Anizi said the most common genetic disorders in the UAE include thalassemia, sickle cell anaemia, G6PD deficiency, cystic fibrosis and haemophilia. Raising awareness about the suffering of future children who could inherit the disease is vital. “If both parents are thalassemia minor, then their offspring, who will have thalassemia major, will suffer greatly. The child will have chronic anaemia, and their lives will depend on frequent blood transfusions.”

Dr Al Anizi said this is when doctors often advise couples to not get married. “These kids suffer a lot: they have anaemia, fatigue, the structure of their faces and bones change, they have enlargement in the belly, and unfortunately, often die before they reach 10.”

She said sick cell disease can also be prevented in the next generation, by testing both parties. “If the child inherits this disease, it really is a crisis for the entire family.”

Premarital tests important

Dr Al Anizi stressed that common health problems, including a severe drop in oxygen levels, body and chest pain, as well as fatigue, will arise. “Children are often admitted to the emergency department and need heavy medication and painkillers. The pain is intolerable.

“Premarital tests are so important, but what’s most important is for couples to understand the consequences of their union.”

Dr Mariam Mater, founder and chairperson of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association (UAE GDA), said prevention tests are accessible in the UAE and are cost effective in the long run. “The cost of genetic screening of thalassemia is Dh120, and the cost of treating a patient is Dh35,000 per annum.”

She stressed that the risk of neural tube defects, which are also common in the UAE, can also be prevented by a course of folic acid, which costs approximately Dh30, whereas treating a neural tube defects case costs a whopping Dh2.7million.

“Prevention is the key in reducing the impact of genetic disorders, socially and economically, and is a long-term sustainable solution, especially in a country like ours where close to 60 per cent of the population is under 30 years of age.”

Genetric engineering helps

Genetic engineering could help couples in the UAE conceive healthy children. Dr Rashmi Mathai, Internal Medicine specialist, Universal Hospital, said a recent research in the US revealed that genetic engineering may help curb the manifestation of genetic disorders in the next generation, which will be a huge relief for couples in the UAE, if made available in the country.

“A patient carrying a mutation that carries a genetic disease, such as cystic fibrosis, may simultaneously carry a mutation in another gene that buffers the effect of the harmful gene. This buffer gene unravels a whole new treatment modality for those carrying genetic diseases.

“This type of genetic engineering will certainly help a lot of couples if it comes to the UAE,” Dr Mathai said.

However, Dr Mathai pointed out that couples in the UAE cannot depend on waiting to see what the future of genetic engineering unravels, and must thus opt for what is already available, to help prevent the increasing genetic diseases statistics. “The closer the blood relation between the spouses, the higher the chance the children will carry the disease. Public awareness and premarital counselling are the most important aspects, because it could help save lives.”

jasmine@khaleejtimes.com

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Simple, affordable tests can prevent genetic disorders – Khaleej Times

HIV fix: Can gene editing work alongside the virus to provide a cure? – Genetic Literacy Project

Gene therapy and management of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection haveeventful histories going back several decades. Both are saving lives today and both are innovating in ways that will lead soon to a convergence. In the years to come, gene therapy and other therapeutic genetic engineering modalities will be used against HIV. The conventional strategy for gene therapy is addition of new genes to a patients genome. ButHIV requires new approaches inspired by anti viral tricks from nature if we hope to reduce the damage being done to third-world nations by the virus.

The currentstrategy in gene therapy is based onlimiting,replacing or supplementing defective genes. This is a workable approach for recessive genetic diseases. However, right around the corner is the option of deleting genes, and subsequently line-item editing of genes that are too large to fit inside AAV, a virus that gene therapists commonly use as a carrier for genetic payloads. Both gene deletion and line-item editing of larger genes can be achieved using CRISPR genome editing carried inside an AAV. But ironically, the HIV itself could work better as a carrier for anti-HIV gene therapy. At the same time, modulating the immune response by suppressing gene activity without deleting the relevant gene is showing promise in laboratory studies. This approach utilizes a non-CRISPR genetic engineering tool, RNA interference (RNAi).

As gene therapy has evolved, scientists have anticipated its eventual use as an HIV treatment. Butwhy consider gene therapy against an infectious disease? For inherited enzyme deficiencies like cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs disease, and for cancer, the potential for gene therapy seems fairly intuitive. But a well-known feature of infectious diseases is their ability to generate an immune response. When exposed to a foreign agent, our bodies launch a T-cell and antibody response. For the vast majority of diseases that impacted human mortality at the dawn of the 20th century, medical researchers were able to boost the immune response with vaccines. Polio, diphtheria, measles all the major infectious killers that plagued our ancestors are prevented today. But a minority of microbial nemeses have evolved particularly devious tricks. Mycobacterium tuberculosis is one of them; so is the Plasmodium parasite that causes malaria. They hide in human tissues, so vaccine development has been particularly challenging.

HIV has multiple ways to evade both the sensors and armaments of the human immune system. Once it enters human cells as a retrovirus, it normally embeds itself into the human genome through a reversal of the whats called the genetic dogma. The latter refers to the passage of genetic information only in one direction, from DNA to RNA to proteins. In violation of the genetic dogma, an enzyme called reverse transcriptase enables HIV and other retroviruses to create DNA from RNA sequences that are carried in the viral genome. This makes removal of HIV analogous to the task of getting toothpaste back into the tube; theoretically, its possible, but snazzy techniques are required.

In gene therapy 1.0, only new genes can be added, so that cannot help with HIV. But the advent of CRISPR in 2012 has addedthe prospect of using gene therapy to delete genes, although one would still need an innovative tactic for identifying those sequences and weeding them out. RNAi is another genetic engineering modality, one that Caltech HIV researcher andNobel laureate David Baltimore believes entails particular potential. The target for RNAi is messenger RNA (mRNA), the sub-type of RNA that carries the genetic sequence transcribed from a DNA gene. In RNAi, special molecules are slipped into cells to suppress activity of mRNA strands.

Research published recently in the online journal PLOS ONE implies a possible new strategy. The study suggests that a strain of HIV called HIV-1 works by hijacking species-specific adaptations that nature has evolved. This makes the virus infectious to some ape species, but not others. CRISPR-based gene therapy we might call it gene therapy 2.0, or RNAi, potentially can incorporate the species-dependent mechanisms employed by HIV itself. This means either eliminating HIV from a patients genome, or rendering the virus neutral by blocking mRNA that is made from viral instructions.

The challenge is figuring out whichgenes should be targeted with this method. The answer could come from a minority of humans with a genetic deficiency that makes them resist HIV infection. To cause disease, HIV requires a certain protein on the surface of the immune systems T-cells. People who cannot make that protein because the copy of the gene from both mother and father are defective are protected from HIV. Those who have one normal gene copy and one defective copy are partially protected. Thus, use of RNAi against the mRNA made from this gene should be protective as well.

These strategies can lead to a sea change in the fight against the HIV pandemic, particularly in developing countries. In developed countries, when diagnosed at an early stage, HIV is not a death sentence, but staying alive requires constant vigilance and treatment. Similar to diabetes, survival depends on monitoring a patients health, adjusting drug treatment accordingly, and managing complications aggressively. Gold standard treatment consists of drug combination therapy, which means using multiple classes of medications, each that attacks the virus through a different mechanism.

Earlier, we mentioned the enzyme reverse transcriptase and how it enables HIV to incorporate its genes into the human genome by causing DNA sequences to be created using RNA sequences. The enzyme is encoded by the virus own genes. Inside the virus, those viral genes exist as RNA sequences, not DNA sequences, and they include the genetic sequence that creates the enzyme. But in the 1990s, researchers began using drugs that inhibit reverse transcriptase and showed that they can slow the onset of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in HIV-infected patients. Today, there several reverse transcriptase inhibitor drugs, divided into two classes that work differently.

Physicians also have another drug class at their disposal, protease inhibitors, which interfere with another process thats vital to HIVs ability to reproduce itself. When patients are given both reverse transcriptase inhibitors (often more than one type) plus protease inhibitors, survival can continue for many years, and improves still more when an additional class of drugs is added. This is the current paradigm, but, like diabetes therapy, it keeps patients alive without curing them.

Combination therapy is extremely expensive and requires excellent patient compliance, and also societal support. All of these factors make it particularly challenging in developing countries, where HIV infection therefore has a much worse prognosis than it has here in North America, or in Europe.

The prospect of a high-tech approach like gene therapy solving a major public health issue like HIV may sound far-fetched. After all, high-tech solutions generally take hold in developed countries first. The same pattern is likely with HIV. Developed, rich countries will have the treatment first. But if it does work and eliminates the virus, it wont require the kind of followup and constant vigilance thats central to standard combination drug therapy.

David Warmflash is an astrobiologist, physician and science writer. Follow @CosmicEvolution to read what he is saying on Twitter.

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HIV fix: Can gene editing work alongside the virus to provide a cure? – Genetic Literacy Project

Genetic Engineering | IPTV

Genetic engineering has the potential to change the way we live. The science behind the agricultural, medical, and environmental achievements is spectacular, but this excitement is tempered by concern for the unknown effects of tampering with nature. How should we use genetic engineering?

DNA is the root of all inheritance and the key to understanding the basics of all biological inheritance and genetics.

The possibilities of this genetic engineering are endless, and everyone from medicine to industry is scrambling to adopt it and adapt it to their specific needs.

Genetic engineering changes or manipulates genes in order to achieve specific results, and there are many ways to “engineer” genetic material including fixing defective genes, replacing missing genes, copying or cloning genes, or combining genes.

How is genetic engineering used in food production? What political, environmental, and production obstacles could arise in the effort to label genetically engineered foods? What food traits would you like to see genetically engineered?

How could GE help in meeting growing demand for food around the world?

How can GE be used with animals? What are the benefits and risks of using genetic engineering with livestock or with endangered or extinct animals?

How does cloning work? What situations might be viewed as ethical uses of human cloning? Unethical?

What are the potential consequences, positive and negative, of discovery in the genetic engineering field? Who should be involved in determining the ethical limitations of the uses of genetic engineering?

Produced from 2001 through 2004, Iowa Public Television’s Explore More online and broadcast series engages students in problems they can relate to, provides compelling content for investigation and gives students opportunities to form their own points of viewon contemporary issues.

Although the full website has been retired, this archive provides links to project videos and related resources. Please contact us if you have questions or comments about Explore More.

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Genetic Engineering | IPTV

Letter: GMO article was filled with misinformation – Mountain Xpress

I was very disappointed by your recent story about genetic engineering [Facts, Fears and the Future of Food, May 17, Xpress]. This article is full of misinformation, and it may as well have been written by a Monsanto lobbyist. Your newspaper poses as an open-minded, environmentally conscious, liberal organization but this article clearly shows where your loyalties lie. Whos writing the check for this one?

Please check your alternate facts about the safety of glyphosate and other toxic chemicals that are polluting our land, our water and our bodies. And check your statistics on world pesticide use, as the U.S. does notrank 43rd in the world for use of pesticides.

Good journalism requires an unbiased approach, and your interviews with local pro-GMO scientists were appropriate. However, you offered no rebuttal to the information provided by these interviewees.

Putting false information and statistics into quotations does not absolve you of any wrongdoing.

Devin Crow Barnardsville

Freelance writer Nick Wilson responds: With this piece, I was genuinely trying to understand a very controversial and complex issue. During my research process, I became aware of my own ignorance in regard to much of the actual science behind genetic engineering. I found my conversations with folks like Jack Britt and Leah McGrath to be informative, thought-provoking, compelling and eye-opening. Throughout my research, it also became apparent to me that theres a lot of public opinion on genetic engineering thats based primarily in emotional rhetoric, rather than in facts. This isnt to claim that certain arguments are right only if they are unemotional, its simply a reason why I felt it was important to focus the article on clarifying some of the common misconceptions about genetic engineering.

If you believe the article contains misinformation, Id love to see more accurate data. I can assure you Im not a Monsanto lobbyist. Im genuinely skeptical of large corporations and voiced reason within the article to be critical of these entities as well as directing readers to check out the local March Against Monsanto protest.

Youre correct in pointing out that the U.S. does not rank 43rd in the world for the use of pesticides. According to data Jack Britt downloaded on June 8 from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, it now ranks 42.5, tied with Peru, Austria and Ireland.

I chose to focus the story on the common fears about genetic engineering countered with facts provided by people who are well-versed on the subject in order to showcase a side of the story that, to me, seems to receive less attention in Asheville. My goal was to reveal that its much more than pro-GMO vs. anti-GMO, but a highly complicated issue that needs to be better understood to facilitate more meaningful debate moving forward.

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Letter: GMO article was filled with misinformation – Mountain Xpress

House now seeks controlled trial of genetically modified maize – Daily Nation

Sunday June 25 2017

Kenya imposed a ban on GMO crops in November, 2012, citing danger to public health. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Parliament has called for approval of field trials of geneticallymodified maize because the ban on GMO imports did not apply to controlled growing tests as well.

The National Assemblys Agriculture Committee wants the government to facilitate local researchers to conduct field trials of biotechnology maize as long as they are not for cultivation or commercial use.

This comes weeks after Health secretary Cleopa Mailu has rejected the planned trial of genetically modified maize in Kenya, arguing that the Cabinet in 2012 imposed a ban on the importation and consumption of GMO food.

The National Biosafety Authority should facilitate local researchers to conduct field trials of biotechnology maize to ascertain drought tolerance and insect resistance, as well as collect compositional data for safety analysis, but not for cultivation or commercialisation, the committee said in a report that was tabled on June 15, the day Parliament took an indefinite end-of-term recess.

The National Environment Management Authority stopped the testing of seeds from Kenya Livestock and Research Organisation and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation last October, after the National Bio-safety Authority allowed them to conduct controlled tests.

Kenyan scientists want a permit to conduct field trials of biotechnology maize developed locally using genetic engineering for resistance to a common stalk borer.

The trials, which were expected to take two years were to be conducted nationwide in the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services confined fields and inspected by other State agencies.

Kenya imposed a ban on GMO crops in November, 2012, citing danger to public health.

Unlike other political financiers who show off their riches, Mr Wanjigi is most secretive.

His children go to Genevas 135-year-old Institut Le Rosey a Sh10 million-a-year school.

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House now seeks controlled trial of genetically modified maize – Daily Nation

Science, if used correctly, has no political affiliation: director Scott Hamilton Kennedy on the new documentary … – Salon

Show us your data and well show you ours. Thats the stance of Scott Hamilton Kennedy, the director of the new documentary Food Evolution, which takes the gasp! position that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the agriculture industry might well be the best thing to happen to the planet since solar panels. And hes not alone he enlisted two of the nations most beloved scientists, Neil deGrasse Tyson, who narrates, and Bill Nye the Science Guy, who appears in the film. Incredibly, both affable, smart guys have come to the same conclusion as Kennedy that the science demonstrates that genetically engineered food isnt as damaging as popularly believed, and, in fact, can lead to downright sustainable farming practices.

Kennedy goes deep here with his answers to Salons questions, judiciously explaining what others might consider blasphemy. Still, pardon us for maintaining some journalistic skepticism, especially considering his film was financed by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a food science society the includes academics from the public and private sectors. Note that the president-elect, Cindy Stewart, hails from DuPont and before that, Pepsi. But Kennedy sure does sound reasonable and level-headed (which is reflected in the film) in the following answers. Also, check out the filmmakers statement regarding the IFT.

Keeping an open mind is a key to scientific inquiry, after all. The exclusive clip below (which actually didnt make it to the final cut of the film), in which anti-GMO scholar and activist Vandana Shiva equates writer Mark Lynas pro-GMO stance with being pro-rape, clearly indicates the issue has become way too muddied.

If we all agree that the planet is in a perilous state, its time to consider some radically evolved thinking. Food Evolution opened onJune 23.

How did you maintain objectivity?

Curiosity, skepticism, seemingly endless research, and data, data, data. We tried to never take someones word for something, check their data and check it again. And a great rule we learned from the wonderful science journalist Tamar Haspel: Talk to the smartest people on both sides of any argument.

Through the course of this film, one of the ways I came to determine the legitimacy of a person or organization, a shill metric if you like, was to look at their endgame. What were they really trying to achieve as a scientist, activist, farmer, politician, business person, etc.?

In creating the GMO Rainbow Papaya, scientist Dennis Gonsalves endgame was very clear: Can he find a safe and affordable way to save the papaya industry from a terrible virus, without losing any of the quality of their beloved papaya? And he succeeded by using GMO technology.

But often the inverse wasnt as clear; with many people and organizations who were opposed to GMOs including Dennis papaya I often struggle with what their endgame truly is. While they often say its about things like safety, sustainability and transparency, their actions and inability to accept information that goes counter to their ideologies seems to contradict those goals. Is their endgame about safety or to get an ideological victory no matter what the data says? Are they trying to have their kale and eat it too?

Though we as filmmakers are far from perfect at this, the goal is to always remain skeptical yet humble. Skepticism as a scientist, journalist or documentary filmmaker is pretty obvious: Dont take things at face value (also includes, beware of the Single Study Syndrome); triangulate your position based on the information out there; look for and be aware of your own financial or ideological dogs in the fight; but ultimately be led and anchored by those things that have been objectively proven to be true while recognizing that science is just a snapshot at any given time of the current body of scientific knowledge. Which leads into the second goal: Have some humility, because it is essential to being able to admit when you are wrong. Theres a really interesting graph we came across during our journey that essentially shows that the less expertise you have in a given subject, the more likely you are to be certain that your views are right, whereas the more expertise you have, the more comfortable you are with the notion you might be wrong. That really brought into focus the whole debate and critical thinking in general.

Whats the strongest argument for the positive development of GMO foods?

In figuring out the core communications of the film we came to a few must-have tenets: 1) GMO, or more correctly, GE (genetic engineering) is a process, not a product. It is a breeding method, similar to the ways farmers have been manipulating and improving plants for the last ten thousand years, but now it is done in a lab. 2) GMO is not owned by any one company or industry. So the strongest argument for using GMO technology is that it works. Then the question becomes: Is it the correct fix for the given situation, and that is another of our core tenets: 3) take all future GMOs on a case-by-case basis, just like any other technology. Is it safe, is it helping, is there a better way to solve the problem? And in many situations, like the papaya in Hawaii and the bananas in Uganda, no other method could stop the devastation of that crop except for GE.

As Neil deGrasse Tyson has said, Weve been doing this for 10thousand years but now that were doing it in a lab, now you have a problem with it? And while that might be oversimplifying the difference between genetic engineering and previous seed breeding techniques, it really does capture the spirit of and motivation behind what scientists are trying to do with this technology.

The problem is GMO has become such a catch-all for all the issues in our food system that not a lot people actually know what it is. And part of that is because a GMO, a genetically modified organism, is not only a really terrible name that instantly makes average consumers a bit suspicious, but it is scientifically meaningless because at its essence every living thing in our world has been genetically modified relative to their ancestors.

So what are we talking about? I think the term GMO needs to be better defined so average people can be better educated on this issue. OK, so here we go, a GMO is simply the product that results from the process of genetic engineering, which at its core is the latest, much more precise method of breeding better seeds, which is generally undertaken when 1) a specific problem needs to be addressed (climate change-resilience, disease-resistance, vitamin-fortified, etc.) and 2) there is not a conventional breeding alternative.

So with that in mind, the strongest argument for genetically modifying foods is that it provides scientists and farmers with a tool to fight major food and agricultural problems that in most instances cannot be fought any other way. Are there some GMOs, notably RoundUp-Ready, that are a bit more complicated? Because theyre part of a more complicated debate over pesticide use and farm production systems in general? Yes, but dont throw the baby out with the bathwater. Debate that specific GMO, not the process of genetic engineering itself. Because if we follow the lead of the antis, and use their arguments against RoundUp-Ready to ban the entire technology, which they advocate globally, then not only will we be trying to take on the specific global challenges facing farming with one arm tied behind our back, but it will cause suffering around the world.

Is it fair to call you and the film pro GMO?

I can see why some people would call the film pro GMO, but we always saw it as pro-science, pro-data, pro-scientific method to help all of us make the best decisions we can. And the GMO controversy was just a metaphor for what can happen if people allow their ideologies to lead their decision making over using the scientific method.

Some say our film is pro-GMO but we would counter we are simply pro-science because currently every major scientific institution and all the data and peer-reviewed science tells us, as a process, it is as safe, if not safer, than any other seed breeding technique available.

After watching your film, I am still not convinced GMOs dont somehow increase the dependence on damaging herbicides or damage the environment in other ways. For all the stats you use, I imagine there being counterpoints. It probably comes down to a case-by-case approach. Your thoughts?

Your concern was very much Bill Nyes concern, and while he was skeptical of the long-term impacts of GMOs on the environment, he took the time to do more research, including visiting Monsanto, and after this research he changed his mind and determined the current products are safe for the planet and safe to eat. And further, that in most cases they are a net positive in terms of environmental impact improvement.

And, forgiving the mild snarkiness, may I also answer with one of my favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes: Science doesnt care about your opinion. We have to check ourselves and think twice beyond just our opinions, gut feelings and tribal echo chambers.

In the case of herbicide-tolerant GMOs, people dont realize that this is not an issue specific or unique to GMOs or, more accurately speaking, genetic engineering. It is a question on pesticide use in general, and even more broadly, part of a vastly oversimplified debate on farming in general that most media insist on framing as a binary, either/or approach. Weve met big farmers who adopt organic principles and organic farmers who adopt some big practices. Its a continuum, and which production system the farmer chooses is based on their own specific circumstances, and not some ideological, usually over-romanticized notion of one being good and the other being bad.

And getting down into the weeds of it (pun intended), Alison Van Eenennaam states it best in the film when she relates a story from a farmer she met who is trying to comply with recent regulations in his county banning the use of glyphosate (i.e., Roundup); she asks Charles Kimbrell, paraphrasing here, Now that hes been forced to give up glyphosate, what do you think hes going to use? Hes going to go back to using more toxic herbicides. . . Now how does that make any sense? Is glyphosate perfect? No, weeds will always be a major challenge for farmers and its vastly more sustainable than what farmers were previously doing. And in near future, science and tech will continue to evolve, moving away from chemicals and turning to more biologically based approaches, and an even more sustainable solution to weeds will become available. Thats progress. Incrementally better, more sustainable solutions.

I cant believe that Monsanto/Pharmacia can be a trustworthy source of information considering their history and the fact that they have so much to gain financially from GMOs (Roundup, etc.). Do you?

Of course we shouldnt take any one industrys opinion on anything without having other checks and balances in place, and if you look at the thousands of studies that have been completed on the safety of GMOs both in the U.S. and around the world, they overwhelming conclude that the current products are safe for ourselves and the environment, and again, in many cases have had a positive impact on the environment, such as lowering toxic inputs.

And while our film is clearly pro the scientific method, in no way are we trying to say that science or scientists are infallible. All of us and all of our systems need checks and balances. But still, we human beings have not found a better system of checks and balances than the scientific method. So you cant rely on single study; it needs to be repeated, and repeated by people who might want to see you fail. What a great system!

Id also first want to get clarity on what appears to be an assumption in the question itself. . . . Are you implying that the sole source of information on GMOs is from Monsanto? I wouldnt think so but do want to be certain that that is clearly not the case with our film or scientific knowledge in general (the recent NAS report on GMOs is a good, independent source to start from. . . ).

Moving beyond that, of course they have a motive, a drive for profits, that must be taken into consideration when looking at any information directly from them. But what matters is, again, what has been objectively proven through independent, peer-reviewed science. And as it relates to the safety of their GMOs, the science has been confirmed to be on their side. And I dont subscribe to the conspiracy theories out there that the global scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs (see the list of institutions referenced in the film) has been bought or compromised by their influence. We had a phrase in the edit room that our editor came up with that I quite liked, What if Darth Vader helped invent the polio vaccine? Now thats probably hyperbole on both sides of that statement but you get the idea, a company with a questionable track record can still be part of developing a worthwhile technology.

Were Neil deGrasse Tyson or Bill Nye wary about being associated with the film? Are they supporting its release with any events?

I asked Neil exactly that question and he said when he saw our film he thought: Its about time somebody told this story correctly, using sound scientific information. But again, Neil didnt make the film with us to defend GMOs, he made the film to defend science. Or as he said on camera at our DOC NYC premiere (and we can share this clip): Its not a matter of being pro or anti-GMO. I think many people will presume that thats the message of the film, but I did the film because we need a more scientifically literate electorate so that we can make informed decisions about the future of our democracy, and this is an example of where they can be more informed.

Neil has been great in his support of the film; just saying yes to being our narrator and script consultant drastically increased the scientific gravitas of the film.

Thanks for the exclusive clip of Dr. Vandana Shiva equating Mark Lynas pro-GMO stance with being pro-rape. Its so inflammatory! Why didnt it make it to the final cut of the film?

It was difficult not to include it, but we had so much other great footage. As a documentarian or really any kind of storyteller, you are always asking yourself does a scene serve the purpose of the entire film or is it making it too long, and in this case we thought the film was better served without it. And, that tough decision was softened by the fact that we knew this and many other scenes would live again online.

Its ironic that pro-GMO seems like a stance that pro-business President Trump would be for. And yet, the film relies on science to make its case, not exactly Trumps strong suit. Care to parse that?

One of the great things about science is that, if used correctly, it has no political affiliation. It isnt blue or red, rich or poor, big or small; it is the best system for determining the truth that we have at our disposal. Or again, as Neil said at DOC NYC, When results are repeated and found to be true that is objective, scientific truth. That is the kind of truth people should base legislation on. If you start basing laws that are not anchored in objective truths, it is the beginning of the end of an informed democracy. And just to bring it back to Trump, Neil made this statement just days after Trump was elected. His point was made.

Read more:

Science, if used correctly, has no political affiliation: director Scott Hamilton Kennedy on the new documentary … – Salon

How Genetic Engineering Fixed My Stupid Back – Entrepreneur

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Around the age of 15, I began experiencing periodic bolts of searing pain shooting down the outer sides of my legs and up through my shoulder blades. The pain would occasionally grow so debilitating that I was forced to walk with a cane and could barely manage a flight of stairs. For sleepless months at a time, I would limp and grimace through my day. The worst part was that doctor after doctor was not able to diagnose the problem, and I resigned myself to a life of making the best of it.

Once I hit my mid-30s, I couldn’t take it anymore and decided I had to do something about it. I tasked myself to keep seeing doctors untilsomebodycould tell me what the problem was. After plowing through a series of specialists, I eventually found my way to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with an inflammatory condition, which isn’t exactly fully understood by science, calledAnkylosing spondylitis(spells just like it sounds).

Now, this condition can be treated somewhat with a special diet (please don’t send me any info on the subject — I know), but the food restrictions are pretty harsh and results in my case weren’t always consistent. But as it turns out, modern science has another fix.

My rheumatologist recommended that I begin a regimen of a type of medicine known as a biologic (or sometimes a “biopharmaceutical”), which is seeped directly from living organisms. I put a lot of trust in science and technology’s ability to make the world a better place, so I was open to seeing what this cutting-edge treatment could do for me.

And I am happy to say that after a month or so, the treatments worked — in fact, they worked far better than I could have possibly imagined. I’ve been almost totally pain-free for the past two years and even taken up running. (I should note that the medication I was on came with some serious potential side effects — most notably, they decrease your body’s immune system, including the ability to fight certain cancers. Just speaking for me, the trade-off was worth it.)

Now, this medication was unlike any other I had taken — I had to inject it. Most second-generation biologics used to fight inflammatory conditions have to be introduced directly into the body through a syringe or via an IV. I had to learn to use a disposable epi-pen like contraption, which I keep stored in my refrigerator. There was a learning curve, but not a sharp one (and it certainly helped that I am not at all squeamish when it comes to needles).

So, what is this magic goop I inject into my body? It comes from natural sources, but at the same time — there’s really anything natural about it.

Scientists have been deriving medicines from living organisms since forever — just about every vaccine you’ve taken can be considered a biologic. However, the scope of these medicines have boomed in recent years with the advent of genetic-manipulation techniques.

While the exact definition of “biologic” varies from regulatory body to regulatory body, the term is often used today to refer to newer classes of drugs resulting from techniques that tweak cells at their fundamental genetic level to turn them into living factories.

According to the FDA’sown description, “In contrast to most drugs that are chemically synthesized and their structure is known, most biologics are complex mixtures that are not easily identified or characterized.” Many of these second-generation biologics (ones that have popped up in the past 15 years or so, as opposed the first-gen ones like vaccines) are not recreatable — by humans. We just don’t know how. However, scientists can use modern genetic-manipulation techniques to cajole living cell cultures to do it for them. Therein lies a wrinkle to the biologic story — they can be insanely expensive.

The manufacturing of these medicines is a complex undertaking — particularly on an industrial scale. Not only is there gene manipulation, but the cellular cultures are particularly susceptible to contamination and must be maintained under very aseptic and strictly temperature-controlled environments — all of which must take place under the supervision of a highly trained workforce. When you consider that the patient pools are relatively small, prices inevitably rise.

I can only speak for myself and say that these drugs have been a godsend and truly improved my quality of life. But I’m also fascinated (and even humbled) to consider how this treatment would not be possible without decades of scientific inquiry that took place before it.

The line of scientific history — down through Darwin, Mendeland the team of Watson & Crick — had no idea it would one day help a middle-aged tech blogger not have to limp in pain for months at a time. They all just wanted to know the answers to weird and impractical questions.

This is why I get annoyed when I hear politicians wanting to balance budgetson the backs of scientific research. While there are ways to best use research dollars, their benefit is invaluable — just not always immediately (quantum physics took decades to find a use in the function of smartphones, as it took years for Einstein’s theories to be used insatellite configuration).

There is no way we can predict how the impractical research of today will affect some major breakthrough years down the line. That’s why we should all want our tax dollars to fund inquiry into weird, unnecessary questions like “Do gravitons exist?,” “What does Pluto look like?,” or “Is the whole universe a hologram?” Answering those questions might not necessarily bring us a new breakthrough today — in fact, they probably won’t. But they leave us with the promise that they will someday.

Go here to read the rest:

How Genetic Engineering Fixed My Stupid Back – Entrepreneur

Genetic Engineering May Make Algae a Real Biofuel Contender for … – The News Wheel

Added on June 23, 2017 The News Wheel algae , biofuel , corn , Exxon , Green driving , renewable energy source , soybeans

So far the biofuel game has belonged to two cropscorn and soybeans. But, a third organism is ready to play. Kind of.

According to Bloomberg writer Jennifer A Dlouhy, after eight years of painstaking work, researches from J. Craig Venters Synthetic Genomics in collaboration with Exxon (a relationship which started in 2009) may have finally found a way to turn algae into a viable biofuel source.

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Algae, which has been on scientists radars for a long time now as a biofuel candidate traditionally lack enough oils and fats that a viable biofuel source requires; corn and soybeans have whats needed, but algae is a more sustainable option because it can grow in salt water and thrive under harsh environmental conditions.And the oil contained in algae potentially could be processed in conventional refineries, according to Dlouhy.

Through advanced cell engineering, the team from J. Craig Venters Synthetic Genomics has reported that they were able to more than double the fatty lipids insidea strain of algae, reports Dlouhy.

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After depriving algae of nitrogen, the scientists were able to pinpoint the single gene tasked with monitoring the amount of oil the algae produces.

Using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique, the researchers were able to winnow a list of about 20 candidates to a single regulator they call it ZnCys and then to modulate its expression, according to Dlouhy.

The advanced cell engineering increased the typical oil production of algae10 to 15 percentto over 40 percent, reports Dlouhy.

Although this is a critical breakthrough and a much needed step in the evolution of algae into a viable biofuel source, commercialization of this kind of modified algae is decades away, according to Dlouhy.

News Source: Bloomberg

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Genetic Engineering May Make Algae a Real Biofuel Contender for … – The News Wheel

How bio-hacking is changing your future – TechRadar

Biohacking is, by way of a definition, a systems-based approach to managing your body. The basic tenet is that by improving your inputs whether nutritional, physical or medical you can improve your bodys output.

Sounds simple enough, and in many ways it is a new fitness regime, a fad diet, or a new Fitbit can all be considered basic biohacking strategies. However, there are an impressive range of more extreme versions out there right now, and we dont mean hot yoga or personal trainers.

Perhaps most promisingly and often controversially genetic engineering is the most extreme example of biohacking: tweaking and manipulating the very building blocks of life. That may sound like overblown science fiction hyperbole, but the reality is very much upon us.

This year should have been a milestone year for genomic services, with the deadline for the completion of the a UK Department for Health’s 100,000 Genomes project, an ambitious plan launched in 2012 to sequence 100,000 genomes from National Health Service (NHS) patients within five years. The 70,000 participants are patients with a rare disease, plus their families, and patients with cancer, in what is the largest national sequencing project of its kind in the world.

Manipulating human DNA is the most extreme example of biohacking

The deadline may have slipped a year, but the reality of DNA screening for rare diseases is here today, and the good news is that costs are dropping rapidly. Luckily, so are storage costs the raw data from one single genome alone tots up to around 200GB, with every genome offering millions of variants from a reference model. The data generated by the 100,000 Genomes project is likely to surpass 20 petabytes alone, which is quite some backup requirement.

Although existing UK data protection laws cover the general principles around medical and personal data, the volume and unique nature of genetic information raises specific challenges. Greg McEwen, a healthcare partner at law firm BLM Law told us: There are serious questions here around ownership of this data, and the challenges of securing and managing these volumes of highly personal information are considerable.

If you are on the cutting edge of research of this type, you could for example end up with data that will predict an individuals risk of developing cancer; if you were susceptible to a serious disease who would you want to know? Your doctor, your work, your insurance company? Would you even want to know yourself? It raises questions that require wider debate there are no easy answers.

Fancy having a go at genetic engineering in the comfort of your own kitchen? You can do that

Of course, while central government may not have the best data protection record the UK NHSs recent collapse under the WannaCry ransomware attack doesnt inspire confidence there are at least solid regulations to build on. And the technology for genetic engineering is rapidly becoming available to all.

Just like some kind of reality-based Dexters Lab, you can now causally mess around with the very fabric of life itself in the comfort of your own home. Human genome sequencing might be a little too ambitious for aspiring beginners, but products such as this DIY genetic engineering lab starter kit enable you to can precisely cut and replace DNA sections in a living organism, on your kitchen table. This is down to the marvels of CRISPR/Cas9 technology, which currently runs to manipulating yeast or bacteria DNA.

Manipulating bacteria is a strong theme in biohacking. Researchers at the London-based BioHackSpace have created the JuicyPrint, a 3D printer that uses light-sensitive substrate to print in cellulose made by a genetically modified bacteria, Gluconacetobacter hansenii (it uses fruit juice as the initial medium for the bacteria, thus the name).

BioHackSpace’s JuicyPrint 3D printer uses light-sensitive substrate to print in cellulose. Image credit: Alasdair Allan

(Image: Alasdair Allan)

While the project might look somewhat DIY, the applications for human health are widespread. As the bacterial cellulose is biocompatible and very strong it can be used to create human tissue scaffolds (used in human organ harvesting), the fabrication of artificial blood vessels, and for a host of similar medical applications.

Fitness-improving wearables or, in a bio-hacking context, cybernetic devices that record biometric data have been around for some years now, and offer the potential to enhance your overall well-being by enabling you to make small improvements to your lifestyle.

Early versions may have been no more than a basic accelerometer in a band, but the latest crop of devices offer far more impressive technologies, lacing together multiple sensors and adding professional-level coaching to provide the essential context to what can otherwise be a confusing muddle of spreadsheet data.

Arion uses artificial intelligence to provide live analysis of your running style

One example is Arion, a combination of ultra-thin smart insoles and GPS-enabled training pods that offers continuous gait analysis and live feedback on the way you run through artificial intelligence (our Running Man of Tech, Gareth Beavis, has already put Arion through its paces).

Meanwhile, competitors Altra have put out the Altra Torin IQ, powered by iFit, a trainer with inbuilt dual footbed sensors and real-time run coaching that offers running intelligence in four critical areas: landing zone, impact rate, contact time and cadence.

Interestingly, wearables and improved fitness are inspiring new ways of thinking about our everyday environment, and pushing grassroots groups to collaborate and attempt to change those environments for the better.

RunHack London is a group of keen bio-hackers who are aiming to remove as many barriers to running in London as possible, whether that’s run-commuting or weekend leisure. The group is the brainchild of Future Cities Catapult, an organization that seeks to improve UK cities.

Scott Cain, Chief Business Officer at Future Cities Catapult, says: We started out with the question of how we could make our cities more run-friendly, and took the format of a hack-type event. Its about bringing together tech and wearables and data outputs to get new insights we had some guys come along who scraped Strava running data and mined that data to show times, volumes and durations we found out from this that London is the run-commuting capital of the world!

RunHack London is using data collected from wearables to improve environments for runners. Image credit: Anthony Kelly

Were now working with connecting some of the output from the hack day with public transport representatives and other official bodies. Formalizing these ideas and packaging them up should give politicians the resolve to make decisions that will change the way our cities work for the better.

The RunHack format is set to reach other cities as well as London, with dates being set for events in Shanghai, New York, Amsterdam and Sheffield.

Overall, biohacking is a broad church indeed, but one that technology is facilitating in a wide variety of ways. From building better, healthier cities around us to printing organs, diagnosing disease earlier to getting our marathon times down, biohacking is alive, well and growing apace what are you waiting for?

Link:

How bio-hacking is changing your future – TechRadar

GMO vs Gene Editing vs Genetic Engineering – Nanalyze

If you had to come up with a short list for the greatest advancements in technology that have been made in the last decade, youd be hard pressed to place anything in front of the progress weve made in the world of genetics. For most of us, its been decadesyears since we took Biology 101 and wed be hard pressed to remember anything we learned were supposed to have learned.It seems like there is a spectrum where on one side you have people like us that are brain dead when it comes to the most basicgenetic concepts, while on the other hand you have people injecting themselves with viruses to live longer. The goal of this article is to provide some basic insights into genetic technology by proving clarity on the terminology. Well start with the very basics and make sure to conceptualize these concepts using real world analogies.

Your body contains trillions of cells which make up the physical you. Each one of these cells has a blueprint that is completely unique to you, called your DNA. Your DNA is just along ladder-shaped molecule that looks like this:

Source: Wikipedia

So that strand contains the entire set of instructions needed to recreate you. Some day well be able to take someones DNA and plug it into a software program that creates a digital you and we can see what drugs you will best respond to and why. If you took all the information stored within your DNA and put it into phone books, this is how many phone books you would need:

So far thats pretty straight forward right? Basically your DNA is this big set of instructions which explains how you turned out.Every single physical attribute you have is contained within that set of instructions. There is even speculation that your DNA can help explain your intelligence, but then everyone gets upset and says we shouldnt go down that path, mainly because they dont want to find out that maybe they got the short end of the stick in the genetic lottery. Its much easier to post articles on Medium talking about how offended you are about everything than it is to pick up a science book and start learning.

In order to read all that information on your DNA, we use machines (usually from Illumina) that dogene sequencing. (A gene is a distinct stretch of DNA that determines something about who you are). Gene sequencing is where we can go through and laboriously read every single character in your DNA and then store it in a big file. Not all genetic sequencing is the same. You can sequence some or all of a DNA strand and still extrapolate useful information from it. Now weve actually reached a price point where we can sequenceyour entire genome (a genome is your complete set of genes) for just $1,000:

Now, if wetake a strand of DNA and cut it into a bunch of segments, each segment is called a gene. When we talk about how you have your fathers eyes, that means the short segment of DNA that dictates eye color was passed on from your father. When we say people have good genes, it means that all those segments gave them the best attributes (or what each society sees as the best attributes). On a side note, there is actually a tribe called the Nacirema that believes obesity is the norm and idolizes it as a thing to be proud of, so thin isnt in for everyone.

Now that we know that a gene dictates certain attributes about you, what if we couldchange genes in order to start changing your attributes? This is now possible using a technology called gene editing.This is where we are able to precisely snip sections of DNA from the strand and then replace them with our own snippets (startups like Twist Bioscience are creating millions of these snippets). You may have read about something called CRISPR which is one popular method used for gene editing.

While its still early days, all kinds of companies are trying to land grab as much intellectual property as possible relating to gene editing. If were able to start changing genes, were essentially able to start creating synthetic life forms. This is what we refer to as synthetic biology. Check this out:

Those are the first genetically modified pets, glow in the dark fish. Yes people, fish that glow in the fcuking dark. More of a cat person you say? Well glow in the dark cats arent too far behind:

Glowing Cats that Fight AIDS

Scientists over at the Mayo Clinic created glowing cats 6 years ago for AIDS research though the Koreans had already mastered this feat over 10 years ago.

Now you may think to yourself that the concept of genetically modifying things ishardly new. Havent people been complaining about genetically modified organisms (GMO) for decades now? They certainly have, and heres a nice infographic that shows how more than 50% of people do not want to buy GMO food:

What most people dont know though, is because 94% of soybeans are GMO, and soy is contained in many processed foods, youre all eating GMO whether you like it or not. The fact that GMO has been subjected to such strong public backlash has raised obvious concerns from companies and investors looking to turn the world upside down with gene editing. A recent article by the New York Times reflected on this fact:

The current regulations were written for the earlier generation of genetically modified organisms, where scientists used bacteria and viruses typically from plant pests to drop a payload of new genes into the nuclei of the plant cells where they merge with the plants DNA. That worked, but scientists could not control where the new genes would be inserted, and that led to worries of potentially dangerous genetic disruptions or crossbreeding with non-G.M.O. crops.

GMO didnt just use the method mentioned above, but other methods as well like literally injecting the DNA directly into a cells nucleus. Note that all these methods fall under the envelope of genetic engineering. Consequently, gene editing is just another form of genetic engineering.

So lets review people.

From an investors perspective, understanding the background is very important. You dont want to spend 100s of million investing in a synthetic biology startup only to find that someone wrote a viral article on Medium about how horrible your GMO technology is and before you know it, youre all over the news, your investors are bailing, and your CEO resigns. While these risks exist, the U.S. needs to be very careful. Lots of other countries dont have people protesting every other day. They just get on with their business and now theyre even doing gene editing at the germline. When the day comes where theyve fully mastered how to control intelligence through genetic engineering, humankind isgoing to be in for one wild ride.

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GMO vs Gene Editing vs Genetic Engineering – Nanalyze

How Genetic Engineering Fixed My Stupid Back – PCMag

Decades worth of the genetic research helped create the treatments that finally cured my back.

Around the age of 15, I began experiencing periodic bolts of searing pain shooting down the outer sides of my legs and up through my shoulder blades. The pain would occasionally grow so debilitating that I was forced to walk with a cane and could barely manage a flight of stairs. For sleepless months at a time, I would limp and grimace through my day. The worst part was that doctor after doctor was not able to diagnose the problem, and I resigned myself to a life of making the best of it.

Once I hit my mid-30s, I couldn’t take it anymore and decided I had to do something about it. I tasked myself to keep seeing doctors until somebody could tell me what the problem was. After plowing through a series of specialists, I eventually found my way to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with an inflammatory condition, which isn’t exactly fully understood by science, called Ankylosing spondylitis (spells just like it sounds).

Now, this condition can be treated somewhat with a special diet (please don’t send me any info on the subjectI know), but the food restrictions are pretty harsh and results in my case weren’t always consistent. But as it turns out, modern science has another fix.

My rheumatologist recommended that I begin a regimen of a type of medicine known as a biologic (or sometimes a “biopharmaceutical”), which is seeped directly from living organisms. I put a lot of trust in science and technology’s ability to make the world a better place, so I was open to seeing what this cutting-edge treatment could do for me.

And I am happy to say that after a month or so, the treatments workedin fact, they worked far better than I could have possibly imagined. I’ve been almost totally pain-free for the past two years and even taken up running. (I should note that the medication I was on came with some serious potential side effectsmost notably, they decrease your body’s immune system, including the ability to fight certain cancers. Just speaking for me, the trade-off was worth it.)

Now, this medication was unlike any other I had takenI had to inject it. Most second-generation biologics used to fight inflammatory conditions have to be introduced directly into the body through a syringe or via an IV. I had to learn to use a disposable epi-pen like contraption, which I keep stored in my refrigerator. There was a learning curve, but not a sharp one (and it certainly helped that I am not at all squeamish when it comes to needles).

So, what is this magic goop I inject into my body? It comes from natural sources, but at the same timethere’s really anything natural about it.

Scientists have been deriving medicines from living organisms since foreverjust about every vaccine you’ve taken can be considered a biologic. However, the scope of these medicines have boomed in recent years with the advent of genetic-manipulation techniques.

While the exact definition of “biologic” varies from regulatory body to regulatory body, the term is often used today to refer to newer classes of drugs resulting from techniques that tweak cells at their fundamental genetic level to turn them into living factories.

According to the FDA’s own description, “In contrast to most drugs that are chemically synthesized and their structure is known, most biologics are complex mixtures that are not easily identified or characterized.” Many of these second-generation biologics (ones that have popped up in the past 15 years or so, as opposed the first-gen ones like vaccines) are not recreatableby humans. We just don’t know how. However, scientists can use modern genetic-manipulation techniques to cajole living cell cultures to do it for them. Therein lies a wrinkle to the biologic storythey can be insanely expensive.

The manufacturing of these medicines is a complex undertakingparticularly on an industrial scale. Not only is there gene manipulation, but the cellular cultures are particularly susceptible to contamination and must be maintained under very aseptic and strictly temperature-controlled environmentsall of which must take place under the supervision of a highly trained workforce. When you consider that the patient pools are relatively small, prices inevitably rise.

I can only speak for myself and say that these drugs have been a godsend and truly improved my quality of life. But I’m also fascinated (and even humbled) to consider how this treatment would not be possible without decades of scientific inquiry that took place before it.

The line of scientific historydown through Darwin, Mendel, and the team of Watson & Crickhad no idea it would one day help a middle-aged tech blogger not have to limp in pain for months at a time. They all just wanted to know the answers to weird and impractical questions.

This is why I get annoyed when I hear politicians wanting to balance budgets on the backs of scientific research. While there are ways to best use research dollars, their benefit is invaluablejust not always immediately (quantum physics took decades to find a use in the function of smartphones, as it took years for Einstein’s theories to be used in satellite configuration).

There is no way we can predict how the impractical research of today will affect some major breakthrough years down the line. That’s why we should all want our tax dollars to fund inquiry into weird, unnecessary questions like “do gravitons exist?,” “what does Pluto look like?,” or “is the whole universe a hologram?” Answering those questions might not necessarily bring us a new breakthrough todayin fact, they probably won’t. But they leave us with the promise that they will someday.

Evan Dashevsky is a features editor with PCMag and host of our live interview series The Convo. He can usually be found listening to blisteringly loud noises on his headphones while exploring the nexus between tech, culture, and politics. Follow his thought sneezes over on the Twitter (@haldash) and slightly more in-depth diatribin’ over on the Facebook. More

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How Genetic Engineering Fixed My Stupid Back – PCMag

Opinion: Activistsnot biotech companiesresponsible for public backlash against GMOs – Genetic Literacy Project

Science educator Kevin Folta recently published a blog post about the anti-GMO trolls that dog him in every online forum.

Other distinguished academics have been harassed and publicly disparaged because their research includes the tools of biotechology (genetic engineering). Some scientists fly under the radar, keeping mum about their research in hopes of avoiding the antis furor.

My own sister was stunned to hear about the threats and intimidation Ive experienced as a writer criticizing and scrutinizing the anti-GMO movement, the friendships that have been strained by my stance, the vitriol that has been spewed against me.

All that over GMOs? she asked in bewilderment.

Yes, it is rather astonishing for people who are not in the trenches to discover the intensity that surrounds a plant breeding method especially one that has been in use for nearly three decades, with a solid safety record.

The general public remains largely unaware of the ugliness, the cult-like operations, the slick propaganda, the near-religious fervor of the anti-GMO movement.

Why? Primarily because mainstream media outlets continue to treat anti-GMO activists like credible advocates for environmental and public health, rather than the well-funded bullies they are.

Their actions are rarely called to account; their funding sources are never scrutinized.Indeed, theyre typically not assigned any culpability at all for the contentious and largely manufactured debate around GMOs.

A case in point is the recent Washington Post article: Forget GMOs. The next big battle is over genetically edited foods. Reporter Caitlin Dewey lays all the blame for the unqualified public relations disaster, the public backlash, the consumerskepticism, the global public outcry [that] has prevented seeds from winning government approval on industry. Or more specifically:

Since the late 90s, when Monsanto botched the introduction of genetically modified crops in Europe, consumers have treated the term GMO as if it were a dirty word.

Dewey makes absolutely no mention of how Jeremy Rifkin, Greenpeace, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network and other individuals and groups have carefully, deliberately and relentlessly waged a fear-mongering campaign intended to sow public distrust of the technology.

[Read GLP profiles on Greenpeace, the Center for Food Safety, and Pesticide Action Network.]

An anti-GMO billboard produced by Center for Food Safety.

This campaign has included the production of slick propaganda in the form of videos, supposedly independent journalism produced by paid sympathizers, advertisements and a steady stream of social media memes and messages.

It has employed despicable bullying and intimidation tactics designed to silence academics, stifle research and scare prospective biotech students, college presidents and politicians.

It has used lawsuits and the threat of litigation, clandestine and undisclosed lobbying activities, and lies about health and environmental impacts to push anti-GMO legislation.

It even coined the now ubiquitous term GMOs as a disparaging phrase.

The public backlash against GMOs didnt occur organically and spontaneously. It was fomented and fed by activists who were motivated by political ideology and/or financial gain, with wealthy philanthropists, anonymous donors and some elements of the organic food industry footing the bill.

Ive written extensively about this, as has author Mark Lynas, a former anti who switched sides, as I did. The fear-based anti-GMO narrative has been picked up around the world not because it has any basis in reality, but because its been systematically pounded into the heads of people who dont understand science.

As Mark recently noted in the new documentary Food Evolution: Its easier to scare people than reassure them.

To which I would add, especially when groups and activists can make so much money and wield so much influence through fear-mongering.

Ive documented the money flow that fueled the growth of the anti-GMO movement in Hawaii and the political power gained at least temporarily by the politicians who embraced its fear-based, fact-challenged mantra.

Groups like Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice and Pesticide Action Network use conflict as a business model, stirring up fears around GMOs and pesticides to attract followers and solicit donations. The organic industry also has benefitted financially from all the lies spread about crop biotech. Not to mention the Non-GMO Project, which makes money certifying that products like salt, which have never been genetically engineered, are indeed GMO-free.

[Read the GLPs profile on the Non-GMO Project.]

As the Risk-Monger blogger noted in a Facebook post:

The global market for certified organic food is 110 billion USD; the GMO seed market is worth 40 billion USD (source: vFluence). It is indeed a David v Goliath situation, but who is the David and who is the Goliath?

Despite Caitlin Deweys assertion that industrys rollout was an epic fail, agribusiness companies actually did a very good job of communicating the new technology to their customers farmers. And farmers, especially in the US, have responded in a big way, overwhelmingly adopting genetically engineered crops that offer pest protection and/or herbicide tolerance traits.

Industry didnt realize consumers would care or that activists would launch a global fear-mongering campaign to derail the technology by making consumers worry about made up stuff until it was too late.

Reporters are slowly beginning to acknowledge that public fears around GMOs are not rooted in scientific fact. But they still havent gotten around to telling their readers who planted and fertilized those fears.

By failing to out the activists and disclose their outsized influence on the GMO debate, they allow the fear-mongerers, demagogues and opportunists to continue their work without scrutiny or accountability.

And thats a real shame, both in terms of honest reporting and the lost potential of agricultural biotech.

A version of this article appeared at Joan Conrows website as Credit where credit is due and has been republished here with permission from the author.

Joan Conrow is a longtime Hawaii journalist and blogger who has written extensively about agricultural, environmental and political issues. Follow her on Twitter@joanconrow

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Opinion: Activistsnot biotech companiesresponsible for public backlash against GMOs – Genetic Literacy Project

Canopy Inks Japan Distribution Agreement With Cosmo Bio – GenomeWeb

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) Canopy Biosciences today announced an agreement with Cosmo Bio to distribute its genetic engineering products in Japan.

Under the agreement, St. Louis-based Canopy will gain access to Cosmo’s Japanese academic and pharmaceutical customers for its gene editing and personalized medicine technologies. Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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Canopy Inks Japan Distribution Agreement With Cosmo Bio – GenomeWeb

genetic engineering | Definition, Process, & Uses …

Genetic engineering, the artificial manipulation, modification, and recombination of DNA or other nucleic acid molecules in order to modify an organism or population of organisms.

The term genetic engineering initially referred to various techniques used for the modification or manipulation of organisms through the processes of heredity and reproduction. As such, the term embraced both artificial selection and all the interventions of biomedical techniques, among them artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization (e.g., test-tube babies), cloning, and gene manipulation. In the latter part of the 20th century, however, the term came to refer more specifically to methods of recombinant DNA technology (or gene cloning), in which DNA molecules from two or more sources are combined either within cells or in vitro and are then inserted into host organisms in which they are able to propagate.

The possibility for recombinant DNA technology emerged with the discovery of restriction enzymes in 1968 by Swiss microbiologist Werner Arber. The following year American microbiologist Hamilton O. Smith purified so-called type II restriction enzymes, which were found to be essential to genetic engineering for their ability to cleave a specific site within the DNA (as opposed to type I restriction enzymes, which cleave DNA at random sites). Drawing on Smiths work, American molecular biologist Daniel Nathans helped advance the technique of DNA recombination in 197071 and demonstrated that type II enzymes could be useful in genetic studies. Genetic engineering based on recombination was pioneered in 1973 by American biochemists Stanley N. Cohen and Herbert W. Boyer, who were among the first to cut DNA into fragments, rejoin different fragments, and insert the new genes into E. coli bacteria, which then reproduced.

Most recombinant DNA technology involves the insertion of foreign genes into the plasmids of common laboratory strains of bacteria. Plasmids are small rings of DNA; they are not part of the bacteriums chromosome (the main repository of the organisms genetic information). Nonetheless, they are capable of directing protein synthesis, and, like chromosomal DNA, they are reproduced and passed on to the bacteriums progeny. Thus, by incorporating foreign DNA (for example, a mammalian gene) into a bacterium, researchers can obtain an almost limitless number of copies of the inserted gene. Furthermore, if the inserted gene is operative (i.e., if it directs protein synthesis), the modified bacterium will produce the protein specified by the foreign DNA.

A subsequent generation of genetic engineering techniques that emerged in the early 21st century centred on gene editing. Gene editing, based on a technology known as CRISPR-Cas9, allows researchers to customize a living organisms genetic sequence by making very specific changes to its DNA. Gene editing has a wide array of applications, being used for the genetic modification of crop plants and livestock and of laboratory model organisms (e.g., mice). The correction of genetic errors associated with disease in animals suggests that gene editing has potential applications in gene therapy for humans.

Genetic engineering has advanced the understanding of many theoretical and practical aspects of gene function and organization. Through recombinant DNA techniques, bacteria have been created that are capable of synthesizing human insulin, human growth hormone, alpha interferon, a hepatitis B vaccine, and other medically useful substances. Plants may be genetically adjusted to enable them to fix nitrogen, and genetic diseases can possibly be corrected by replacing dysfunctional genes with normally functioning genes. Nevertheless, special concern has been focused on such achievements for fear that they might result in the introduction of unfavourable and possibly dangerous traits into microorganisms that were previously free of theme.g., resistance to antibiotics, production of toxins, or a tendency to cause disease. Likewise, the application of gene editing in humans has raised ethical concerns, particularly regarding its potential use to alter traits such as intelligence and beauty.

In 1980 the new microorganisms created by recombinant DNA research were deemed patentable, and in 1986 the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the sale of the first living genetically altered organisma virus, used as a pseudorabies vaccine, from which a single gene had been cut. Since then several hundred patents have been awarded for genetically altered bacteria and plants. Patents on genetically engineered and genetically modified organisms, particularly crops and other foods, however, were a contentious issue, and they remained so into the first part of the 21st century.

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Protesters, police clash at conference – Sacramento Bee


Sacramento Bee
Protesters, police clash at conference
Sacramento Bee
Protesters contend the meeting is not about ending hunger, but rather is a stage for the United States to push its agenda on other countries, an agenda that promotes big-business interests and technology, specifically the genetic engineering of crops

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Protesters, police clash at conference – Sacramento Bee

Your coffee could get worse and more expensive thanks to climate change – SFGate

Photo: Kitjanat Burinram / EyeEm / Getty Images

Kitjanat Burinram / EyeEm / Getty Images

Kitjanat Burinram / EyeEm / Getty Images

10. Fresh Brew Coffee882 Bush St.

10. Fresh Brew Coffee882 Bush St.

6 Monterey Blvd.

6 Monterey Blvd.

2701 Leavenworth St.

2701 Leavenworth St.

442 Hyde St.

442 Hyde St.

1035 Fillmore St.

1035 Fillmore St.

3139 Mission St.

3139 Mission St.

1401 Sixth Ave.

1401 Sixth Ave.

3414 22nd St.

3414 22nd St.

2155 Bayshore Blvd.

2155 Bayshore Blvd.

Your coffee could get worse and more expensive thanks to climate change

Coffee drinkers may be in for a bleak future, thanks to climate change.

A new study published in the academic journal Nature Plants by researchers from the University of Nottingham,Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and other institutions has found that the cost of coffee is likely about to go up, and the quality is about to nosedive.

In short, the issue is that the Earth is getting too hot. As researchers found, more than half of the land wherein coffee crops grow in Ethiopia will be no longer agriculturally viable due to a longer dry season, unpredictable rainfall, and higher-than-usual temperatures.

“Historical climate data shows that the mean annual temperature of Ethiopia has increased by 1.3 degrees Celsius (roughly 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) between 1960 and 2006,” the study reads.

What’s worse, as Popular Science reports, this is already a similar issue in other coffee-growing areas of the world, including Colombia, Indonesia, and Brazil.

There’s no easy solution to a complex problem, and though the study points out “cost-effective agronomy” options, it appears that coffee drinkers will likely need to shell out more for their beloved beverage in the future.

One such option put forth by the study is to move crops up higher in altitude, to lower temperatures. That’s a possibility, but it’s an expensive endeavor, and it will almost certainly change the taste of the coffee derived from the terroir of the soil we’re used to. Another option, as Pop Sci points out, is to consider genetic engineering.

No matter what, it seems the cost will rise for consumers that is, if nothing changes.

Alyssa Pereira is an SFGATE staff writer. Email her at apereira@sfchronicle.com or find her on Twitter at @alyspereira.

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Your coffee could get worse and more expensive thanks to climate change – SFGate

Consumers Remain in the Dark About Potential Risks of New GMO Techniques – The Epoch Times

Life is a series of risk-benefit analyses. With every decisionfrom trying a new toothpaste to choosing a careerwe decide if the benefits are worth the risks. Does the possibility of whiter teeth outweigh the risk of lower cavity protection? Does a high salary outweigh the risk of burnout from long hours?

These are personal choices, but there are some risk assessments that we have to make as a species. The changes we make to the DNA of plants, animals, and humans can be passed on ad infinitum, fundamentally altering the flora and fauna of the Earth. The use of genetic modification on food crops and in medicine also raises questions about health risks.

As the technology used for genetic modification evolves rapidly, so does the conversation on acceptable risk. New techniques, broadly known as gene editing, are poised to take hold of Americas food and agricultural industry. About 5 percent of U.S. canola on the market is already made using these techniques. And scientists in China, the United Kingdom, and Sweden are testing them on human embryos, something never done with the older techniques.

They are billed as the lowest risk way to manipulate DNA and gain all the benefits, like creating mushrooms that dont turn brown or soybean oil thats lower in trans fator, in the case of humans, repairing disease-causing genes.

But some scientists and consumer advocates who have long been concerned about traditional genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are equally concerned about these new kinds of altered organisms.

The older technologies involve inserting genes from foreign organisms into a plants DNA to give it a desired trait. For example, a gene from a bacterium wasinserted into a soybean plant to make it herbicide-resistant. The process of inserting the genes is imprecise; one method involves attaching the desired genes to tiny metal balls and shooting them into plants cells.

The new technologies, on the other hand, use molecular tools that are designed to specifically target the desired part of the DNA. They dont require the use of genes from other species, but can simply cut out an undesirable gene or make other rearrangements to the genome.

Biotech companies using these technologies hope that this will make all the difference to consumers wary of so-called frankenfoods, GMOs made with a patchwork of DNA from multiple species that is unlikely to occur in nature.

The advanced precision is one of the new techniques greatest assets, decreasing the risk of making additional, unintended changes to the genome. But studies from researchers in Germany, Switzerland, and China, among others, have shown the new techniques can still have off-target effects.

It is hard to detect these unintended effects, according to Guillermo Montoya, a biologist at the University of Copenhagen. Sequencing the entire genome to look for problems is costly and technically difficult, he said via email. It is especially difficult to find off-target effects that happen less frequently.

Current methods for detection rely on probability, not 100 percent certainty. For example, a method may have a high chance of detecting an off-target effect that happens about 40 percent of the time, but a very small chance of finding one that happens only 10 percent of the time.

Montoya wrote in a 2016 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Bioessays, Talen and Crispr-Cas9 [two of the new techniques] are vastly used in genome editing; however, none of them has perfect DNA recognition specificity, so possible breaks can occur on other DNA sites in the genome.

This off-target effect can introduce undesired changes in sequences of the genome with unpredictable consequences for cells, organs, organisms, and even environments.

Shengdar Q. Tsai, a genetic engineering expert at St. Judes Childrens Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, has also noted the problem of low-frequency off-target effects. He wrote in a 2014 article in the peer-reviewed journal Cell Stem Cell: Clearly, an unbiased, genome-wide method that is also sensitive enough to identify even lower frequency off-target effects is required. This is critically important because unintended, off-target modifications in cell populations can lead to unexpected functional consequences in both research and therapeutic contexts, where functional consequences of even low-frequency mutations can be of significant concern.

One of Talens creators, Dan Voytas, said that he has not found any unintended changes in the food crops he has worked on as chief scientist for biotech company Calyxt. The company has developed several food crops it is hoping to start selling to farmers in the next few years, including reduced-gluten wheat and a canola low in saturated fat.

After designing molecular tools to target and snip out particular genes, Voytass team looked at selected parts of the genome for off-target effects, in places that the molecular tools could easily have mistaken for the target areas. His team has not found any off-target effects in these places, but they have not checked the DNA in its entirety.

Researchers at Osnabrck University in Germany also reported that off-target effects are rare with Talen. It is far less prone to off-target effects than Crispr-Cas9. But they did note in their article, published in March n the peer-reviewed journal Plant Methods, that the use of Talen to create a rockcress (Arabidopsis) plant resulted in the deletion of three genes other than the ones intended. This seemed to have occurred spontaneously, they wrote.

Some food products are being made with Crispr-Cas9, such as a sweet corn by DuPont that is expected to be available to U.S. growers in the next five years. Agrochemical giant Monsanto announced in January that it will be using Crispr-Cas9 and its sister technology, Crispr-Cpf1, to create new crops. Cibus, a biotech company based in California, uses another new technique called the Rapid Trait Development System. Cibus was the first company to launch a product using one of these new techniques commercially, beginning to sell its SU Canola seeds to farmers in 2014.

While there are risks to these new technologies, there are also risks to technologies that have long been used in agriculture, said Richard Amasino, a professor of biochemistry and genetics at the University of WisconsinMadison who served on a committee assembled by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to assess the future of genetically engineered crops.

If you ask the question, Could it possibly create something harmful?, well, yes, any process that results in a change of DNA, including conventional plant breeding, could, in principle, create something harmful, he said.

He explained that even conventional breeding for desired traits can create unintended effects, like increased allergenicity or toxicity. Its hard to say theres zero risk to anything, he said.

But Amasino thinks the degree of precision makes these new techniques safe in a broad sense and preferable to previous methods. He thinks the risk is low and the potential benefits are high.

Voytas similarly commented on the benefits: Almost all of the products that were making have a direct consumer benefithealthier soybean oil , a wheat product lower in gluten and higher in fiber. Were hopeful that the consumer will see that biotechnology can be used to address consumer needs and perhaps that will influence acceptance. Whereas in the past, agricultural biotechnology has mostly benefited the farmer and the production system[creating traits like] herbicide tolerance and pathogen resistance.

Megan Hochstrasser earned her doctorate researching Crispr in the lab of its creator, Jennifer Doudna. Hochstrasser explained the difference between mutagenesis, an older, commonly used GM technique, and Crispr-Cas9. She said its comparable to the difference between Boggle and Scrabble.

[Mutagenesis means] taking the existing DNA and shaking things up, almost like a game of Boggle, where you end up getting letters and maybe making a nice word, maybe not. Maybe you have changes somewhere else that you dont know about.

She continued: Crispr, I would say, is closer to Scrabble where you can choose the precise sequence of letters you want. So even if there are occasionally some off-target effects, its still monumentally different from the previous approaches.

Since all previous breeding methods, from selective breeding to genetic engineering, have been about changing DNA and have had unintended effects, Hochstrasser feels Crispr is preferable for use in agriculture because it is more precise.

Its use in humans concerns her more. She is worried people might even use it for enhancing or creating aesthetically pleasing traits rather than preventing disease.

Another concern raised by many is the increased risk of off-target effects if these techniques are combinedif scientists try to create more than one change in the genome. For example, the 2017 NAS report titled Preparing for Future Products of Biotechnology reads, The magnitude of risk might change as the synergistic effects of multiple genetic changes could lead to unintended effects in the biochemistry of crops (affecting nutrients, immunogens, phytohormones, or toxicants).

That report also said that since risk assessments of biotechnology products use qualitative language and dont give probabilities of risk, NAS was unable to quantify the risks. It suggests that assessments should begin to show these probabilities, such as, for example, how much more likely these random effects are to occur with Talen and similar technologies than with random mutations in nature.

The novelty of these techniques has also raised concerns. A joint statement by Greenpeace and other advocacy groups issued in February said, Given that many of the techniques are new, it is not yet possible to fully evaluate the potential for adverse effects.

Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Project, which provides verification and labeling for non-GMO products, said via email: GMOs, including the products of these new technologies, have not been adequately testedno long-term feeding studies have been conducted.

Aside from the risks related directly to off-target effects and human health, the USDAs organic advisory board has discussed secondary effects of concern. In a recommendation it published in November last year, it listed some problems with GMOs in general, noting that these concerns also apply to the new breed of GM crops:the altered nutritional profiles of GM crops, the displacement of small-scale farmers, and the decline of diversity and soil fertility from the use of herbicides.

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Consumers Remain in the Dark About Potential Risks of New GMO Techniques – The Epoch Times


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