Without exaggeration, GMOs have altered global evolution in a way that can’t be taken back or undone. In my opinion, not much good has come from this alteration.
October is non-GMO month and I’d like to kick off the month by taking a step back and asking – What is GMO? It stands for Genetically Modified Organism, which is any living organism that has had its genome (entire collection of genes, stored in the nucleus of cells) directly manipulated by man to behave in certain ways. Not to be confused with hybridization or cross-breeding, which is selectively breeding plants/animals for specific traits. That’s natural and akin to trying to match up friends you think would be compatible.
Genetic engineering is different and is trying to find and isolate specific genes and attempting to insert those genes into the DNA of another organism. Nothing about the process is natural or precise in any way.
While, from a scientific perspective this could sound exciting, when you learn how it’s actually done it seems more like trying to bake a cake blindfolded….with no measuring tools….and no idea where the oven is. Remember these are the tiniest forms of data around. You can’t see your work, you just have to try stuff and see what happens. They can rarely isolate just the gene they want so they have to take a group of them.
But genes don’t act on their own, they have ‘promoters’ that tell them when to turn on or off. They don’t know what the natural promoter for that gene is, so scientists have to create promoters for these spliced genes- usually using viruses. One problem here is they can’t tell the viruses when to stop. Then they insert these genes into the host organism. But it’s not like a filing cabinet where they can put it next to other like genes. They can’t tell the gene where to go, so they just have to randomly insert them by making the cell absorb the new genes and attaching chemicals to get the genes to stick to the other genes and hope it all works out.
Well…..it usually doesn’t….like, it won’t work thousands and thousands of times before it works once. Next week – a little history on Genetic Engineering.
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of posts celebrating non-GMO month by Greenling co-founder Mason Arnold.