As most of my network of friends and acquaintances know, I am not a proponent of cross-species genetic engineering, due to the lack of long-term safety studies (90 days or longer), which include at least testing 2 to 3 generations of progeny. This way, you can isolate any side effects including tumors, allergens, etc., found in the current generation, as well as to see if there is an inherent transferable defect, which may ultimately pose a threat to humans, animals, or the environment.
Cross-species genetic engineering is when they take a gene from one species like a frog and place it in another species like a Florida Orange. In this example it was done, in order to stop a bacterial infection in the oranges called “greening”. I personally don’t think this type of engineering is good for the environment, humans or any animal who might eat them.
If oranges were supposed to pick up certain traits of this frog, it would be able to happen in nature. (Read: Genetically Modified Oranges With A Side Of Frog Genes) Personally, I’ve never seen a orange hopping around and making “ribbit” noises have you? Could anything ever make me Pro-GMO?
Would I reconsider cross-species genetic engineering if adequate, long-term safety testing was done? As much as I don’t think it’s a good thing, I would have to look at it on a case by case basis. However, I still don’t think it’s fair that farmers have to buy new seeds each year. It’s never been that way in the history of agriculture. Farmers have always been able to save their seeds. Perhaps it wouldn’t bother me as much if the GMO seeds weren’t infertile after one generation which forces you to buy anew.
Jerry Rosman, a pig farmer and seed dealer since 1974, started using GMO feed in 1997. Everything was fine until the 2000 “vintage” feed came out and that’s when he chose a GMO variety from a different company – Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready/BT Corn. That’s when he started noticing infertility in 80% of his pigs. Within 12 months of using this feed, this farmer went bankrupt.
These types of “side effects” would not have happened without adequate, long-term, safety testing. Most, if not all safety studies, sponsored or run by the chemical seeds companies, only do safety testing for a period of 30 to 60 days. Many disease states will not be seen in animal testing unless you test for 90 days or longer. If you’d like to hear more about the case of Jerry Rosman, you can see more in the video below.
In the High Times article quoted below, Vancouver-based research company, MediJean, is currently attempting to create individual, hybrid strains of cannabis, that are targeted to a specific disease state or states.
“According to reports, MediJean is currently experimenting with about 224 marijuana strains in an attempt to breed a selection of high-potency varieties, which can then be used to treat a broad range of debilitating ailments, including cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.”
However in this case of MediJean’s efforts, I approve of genetic engineering. Why? As long as the genetic engineering is done without toxic, mutagenic, chemical means, genetic engineering used in the same species, in my opinion, speeds up evolution. Why in this case do I think speeding up evolution is a good thing? It can take several generations of plant hybridization/cross-pollination, to obtain the final result(s) that you’re looking for.
Using cannabis as an example, you’re looking at 12 to 16 weeks of development, including pollen exchange, then replanting those seeds and then “hope” it moves you closer to your goal. Using traditional means of trial and error cross-pollination, it would take years.
Using traditional cross breeding, you take the pollen from one variety then rub it on the other, then wait to see if you get the result you want. Now what if you had a plant with purple leaves that worked for MS and one that had green leaves that also worked for MS, but just a little better. When we cross-pollinate, we find that we brought the MS-helping trait over, but we also brought the purple color too and let’s say we didn’t want the purple color because it brought over undesired traits. We would then have to do something to breed that purple color out by only breeding together plants with the least amount of purple color. This may take generations until we get that shade of green we wanted in the first place.
Using genetic engineering for the purpose of hybridization, we can take only the gene(s) that aid in MS symptoms and not the genes for the purple color. In fact, they can take genes from several different varieties and try to splice them into one potent MS-specific variety. So in the case of speeding up evolution using gene splicing as a way of hybridization, this will bring cures to market much more quickly and at less expense.
Using genetic engineering in the way I defined above, you can be verified that the plant you end up with, carries the genetic traits of several breeds, that are custom-tailored for one specific illness to a range of illnesses. There are so many people in the world that would benefit from this miracle plant if the genetic engineering is done in a heart-based, compassionate manner, and not one created for mega-profits – like we see in the agri-biotech businesses.
Let us know your thoughts on genetic engineering by commenting below.
Read more about MediJean in the High Times article:
To learn more about GMOs in our food supply visit: GMO Free PA
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