Link is from the weekly blog.
Where exactly are we headed with GM?
Is it getting scary out there? Or are we just Luddites, opposed to all technological change, including genetic modifications of food? There is no question, I feel: this stuff is here to stay. But how can we assess the potential risk? Nobody knows.
Fear of everything may not be the right response, just a knee jerk.
But hey, whether you are scared or not, the story is getting fascinating! Listen to this…They are now breeding goats and chickens to create pharmaceutical-grade marketable proteins. It’s jokingly been called “pharming”.
Genetically modified chickens are capable of laying eggs containing proteins needed to make cancer-fighting drugs.
The breakthrough has been announced by Roslin Institute near Edinburgh (remember Roslin Chapel from the movie “The Da Vinci Code”?) This institute is famous for the first ever cloned sheep, Dolly.
Roslin has bred some 500 modified birds. Their existence is the result of more than 15 years’ work by the lead scientist on the project, Dr Helen Sang of Edinburgh University.
Some of the birds have been engineered to lay eggs that contain miR24, a type of antibody with potential for treating malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Others produce human interferon b-1a, which can be used to stop viruses replicating in cells.
But it doesn’t stop there. I read this week about “green ham”. Well, I don’t know about you guys but I was raised on a farm and when ham turned green it meant you threw it away: yuck!!
What that now means in this Brave New World of spin definitions is a pig which is environment friendly. A sort of eco-pig!
Now that’s an interesting one. Because pigs are pretty damaging to the environment. Their manure is loaded with highly toxic phosphates. That’s the stuff that’s poisoning the waterways and seas, encouraging monstrous growth of plants and algae, where they didn’t ought to be.
The lagoon at Venice, for example, is threatened by the invasion of offshore weed growth (though there are claims it may be turned into a low-emission fuel; we’ll see). The point is that all that gunk wouldn’t be there, if it were not for the phosphates in the water system.
Household cleaner products are, without doubt, the main source of destructive phosphates. But pigs do their share too.
Between 50% and 75% of the phosphorus present in pig food (including corn, soybeans, barley and wheat) is present in an indigestible compound called phytate.
Ordinarily, pigs cannot easily digest phytate and so pass it out, unchanged, on their feces. That’s toxic and damaging to the environment.
But eco-pigs have genes from mice and E.coli bacteria inserted into their DNA. Now that can digest phytate. The world is a cleaner, healthier place.
Well, that’s what the scientists and politicians want us to believe. They may even be right.
But what I object to is the lies and skullduggery. If all is cool, as they claim, why hide from the consumer what’s going on?
Add to this surprise list, the fact we now have chickens which are bred to be free of so-called “bird flu”. The birds have an artificial gene inserted which introduces a tiny part of the bird flu virus into chicken cells.
These birds become infected but render the virus harmless to other poultry.
Again, we are supposed to take it on faith this is good. Again, it might be.
Here why: Professor Helen Sang told BBC News that genetic modification is potentially a much better way of protecting against diseases than vaccination because the GM technique works even if the virus mutates.
If you bear in mind what I wrote in the blog before this one, you’ll remember that mutating virus is the big bugaboo that renders vaccination laughable (except as a fraudulent profit center).
The researchers say that, in principle, the technique could be used to protect any farm animal from any disease. The eventual aim is to develop animals that are completely resistant to viral diseases. But again I ask: is this good?
It sounds fine but we may be breeding a crop of monoclonal (one geno-type) animals, which have not had their immune system challenged. That renders them vulnerable to diseases and we may see them suddenly wiped out by what would otherwise be just an ordinary disease epidemic. The genetic scientists, of course, don’t mention this, with their head stuck where the sun don’t shine.
But it’s very worrying to anyone with even a smidgeon of scientific common sense, among which group I rank myself!
There could be a great, golden future out there for Mankind. I wouldn’t want to attack it on principle. But I would love to round up all the lying, devious politicians and throw them in jail, for all the lies and spin they throw at us.