QDavid Suzuki says that we dont know the unintended consequences at the molecular level of genetic engineering. He uses the analogy of taking Mick Jagger and putting him in with a symphony orchestra and saying Now, make music. He say that the context of a

David Suzuki says that we dont know the unintended consequences at the molecular level of genetic engineering. He uses the analogy of taking Mick Jagger and putting him in with a symphony orchestra and saying Now, make music. He say that the context of a gene is the genome, and we simply dont know enough now to be able to anticipate all of the consequences of GM. What is your response to this argument?

AExpert Answer

Genes — portions of the chemical abbreviated as DNA — have been moved around from one species to another by humans since the 1970s, and by Mother Nature for eons. In every case, the anticipated outcome has been realized. For example, humans have been moving the gene for insulin from humans to bacteria for almost half a century (and now provide insulin for almost all insulin-dependent diabetics). In every case, the recipient bacteria “read” the human insulin gene recipe and make human insulin. They never make anything else from the human insulin recipe, just insulin. When the exercise fails, it fails because the bacteria produce either no insulin or too little insulin to be of use, but the genetically engineered bacteria have never made something other than human insulin. This history of success is also true with plants; genetic engineering of genes into plants has never resulted in the recipient plant’s producing something other than what the gene recipe coded for in the original host. The gene may not work at all, or it may not express enough of the new protein to be useful, but it has never produced something unexpected, something other than what the transferred gene coded for. In the early days of genetic technology, especially in the 1970s, when Dr. Suzuki still worked in a lab, some critics (including Dr. Suzuki) worried that a transferred gene might result in something other than the expected outcome, either because the recipient species used a different DNA code or because of some unspecified locus, or “position effect,” and proximity to other genes in the recipient. But in all of the genetic engineering done to date, starting with the most diverse transfer imaginable (from a human to a bacterium), such an unexpected outcome has never happened.
 

Posted on February 2, 2018
A former response to a similar question answered by Dave Kovalic, Regulatory New Technology Lead at Monsanto, also provides information on scientific advancements and how they [Monsanto] affirm safety prior to targeted vector insertion.   “For context, it is important to recognize that random genome insertions have been naturally occurring in crops over the ~10,000-year history of agriculture.  In some crops, more than 90 percent of the genome consists of these... Read More
Posted on February 2, 2018
In terms of the science behind the technology to create GMOs, scientists have a much better understanding how a transgene is delivered and stably integrated into a chromosome (or genome). Many GMO products, such as Bt corn, were made using Agrobacterium cells to deliver useful trait genes into the plant cells. Scientists were able to dissect the different steps of this natural gene delivery system encoded by Agrobacterium. We now have a good understanding of the interactions between... Read More
Posted on January 2, 2018
Thank you for your questions, we would like to address these individually.   Why are GMOs created if scientists are not aware if it is really harmful? and Are GMOs really safe if you’re mixing to different DNA strands? yes GMOs are safe. In fact, according to this response, “the overwhelming consensus of scientific experts and major scientific authorities around the world, including the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and... Read More
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