GMO roundup

• Back pain specialists in the US are the latest health professional group to take a pop at genetically modified foods. An article in the Journal of the American Chiropractic Association warns: “Some hazards from the GE process could directly impact patients who ingest the food” and adds, rather fluffily, that “other hazards are indirect, operating through pollution of other food species or through unintended effects on local and global ecosystems.“ The article “reveals” a number of hazards of genetically engineered foods including the presence of herbicide resistance genes that “guarantees that humans who ingest the foods will be exposed to herbicides with a litany of adverse health effects.” The article stops short of indicating precisely what new economic factors will encourage farmers to squander their profits by coating their crops with an unnecessarily generous layer of herbicide, and neither does it disclose which part of the human photosynthetic apparatus the herbicides will affect. Unsurprisingly, the article also polishes off the old allergenicity chestnut (the food never got anywhere near the consumer, guys) and it points to toxicity effects originating with crops that produce “bacillicus [sic] thuringiensis toxins.” The article seems to have been written by people who, despite being well schooled in human anatomy, do not know their “bacillicus” from their elbow.

• At last, the GM food debate is maturing. In April, a protest group called the Biotic Baking Brigade provided new evidence of the hazards of being publicly pro-biotechnology by projecting a volley of sweet pastries in the face of Martina McClaughlin, director of biotechnology at the University of California, Davis. UC Davis has been a particular target for the direct antibiotechnology action because of its leading position in plant biotechnology and its associations with a number of commercial companies in the field. The actions of Biotic Baking Brigade agents—Chocolate Silk, Key Lime, and Raspberry—truly helped focus world attention on the real solutions to world hunger—the delivery of copious baked confectioneries to subsistence farmers and the landless in the developing world.

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Hodgson, J. GMO roundup. Nat Biotechnol 18, 581 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1038/76338

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