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Robert Wager M.Sc.

Faculty Member, Biology Department, Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo BC Canada

Expert Bio

I have been a Faculty member of the Biology Department of Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo BC Canada for 23 years. My training is in Biochemistry and Molecular biology. I am an independent scientist with zero financial connection to the biotechnology industry. I have been involved in GMO research with an emphasis on public education for 13 years. I have given many talks and written many articles for the general public that explain different aspects of GE technology. Most can be read on my website at http://web.viu.ca/wager

Studies, Articles and Answers

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Showing 9 out of 9 results

Question

Q: I just saw your TED talk on GMOs and have a question:If you developed a hybrid plant by the "normal" vertical exchange of genes - say a hybrid tomato - would some of the negative effects of GMOs such as rogue proteins and horizontal gene transfer to bacte

Answered By Robert Wager M.Sc. - Dec 20, 2013

A: There are a great many myths about GMOs on the web.  Two of the latest myths are the alleged threats of “rogue proteins and of horizontal gene transfer.” The "term rogue protein" invokes all manners of unease, but there is virtually zero evidence of such damaging proteins in the commercial GM crops.  There are several reasons for this.  First, when any eukaryotic cell has a misshaped, or “rogue,” protein, there is a system called ubiquination that tags the dysfunctional protein.  Then systems within all eukaryotic cells recognize the tagged faulty protein and destroy it.&n [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: Why are all the answers on this site pro GMO? Is there no a single drawback to GMO foods over conventional food and organic food?

Answered By Robert Wager M.Sc. - Sep 23, 2014

A: GM crops have been quite successful since they arrived on the market 20 years ago. The US National Academy of Sciences’ 2010 report “Impact of GE Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States” offers an in-depth analysis on the subject. Its conclusion was: “In general, the committee finds that genetic-engineering technology has produced substantial net environmental and economic benefits to U.S. farmers compared with non-GE crops in conventional agriculture.”  That is not to say there are no significant issues — there most definitely are. However, when one looks at the legi [...]

Answered By Robert Wager M.Sc. - Sep 23, 2014

A: GM crops have been quite successful since they arrived on the market 20 years ago. The US National Academy of Sciences’ 2010 report “Impact of GE Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States” offers an in-depth analysis on the subject. Its conclusion was: “In general, the committee finds that genetic-engineering technology has produced substantial net environmental and economic benefits to U.S. farmers compared with non-GE crops in conventional agriculture.”  That is not to say there are no significant issues — there most definitely are. However, when one looks at the legi [...]

Health & Safety

Question

Q: Why are all the answers on this site pro GMO? Is there no a single drawback to GMO foods over conventional food and organic food?

Answered By Robert Wager M.Sc. - Sep 23, 2014

A: GM crops have been quite successful since they arrived on the market 20 years ago. The US National Academy of Sciences’ 2010 report “Impact of GE Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States” offers an in-depth analysis on the subject. Its conclusion was: “In general, the committee finds that genetic-engineering technology has produced substantial net environmental and economic benefits to U.S. farmers compared with non-GE crops in conventional agriculture.”  That is not to say there are no significant issues — there most definitely are. However, when one looks at the legi [...]

Answered By Robert Wager M.Sc. - Sep 23, 2014

A: GM crops have been quite successful since they arrived on the market 20 years ago. The US National Academy of Sciences’ 2010 report “Impact of GE Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States” offers an in-depth analysis on the subject. Its conclusion was: “In general, the committee finds that genetic-engineering technology has produced substantial net environmental and economic benefits to U.S. farmers compared with non-GE crops in conventional agriculture.”  That is not to say there are no significant issues — there most definitely are. However, when one looks at the legi [...]

Health & Safety

Question

Q: what are some safty problems with GMOs

Answered By Robert Wager M.Sc. - Jan 30, 2015

A: When discussing safety of GM crops and derived food it is easier to separate the food safety aspects from the environmental aspects.  This answer will deal with food safety issues.   Every GM crop is extensively tested for food safety considerations before it is allowed to be commercialized.  The testing protocols are based on internationally agreed criteria (OECD, WHO).  A good document that outlines the testing protocols is the Guidance for risk assessment of food and feed from genetically modified plants: EFSA Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).   Th [...]


Question

Q: what are two potential problems with genetically engineered foods?

Answered By Robert Wager M.Sc. - Jul 06, 2015

A: The Internet can be a wonderful source of science information.  Unfortunately, it also contains a great deal of false information on genetically engineered (GE) crops.   Most people are not aware of the extensive pre-market testing that must be done before any GE crop is allowed to be commercialized.  In reality, GE crops are tested 10-50 times the level of non-GE crops.  The testing examines potential hazards and the likelihood of exposure to determine the overall risks for GE crops and derived foods.    When testing food for safety international agreed s [...]

Answered By Robert Wager M.Sc. - Jul 06, 2015

A: The Internet can be a wonderful source of science information.  Unfortunately, it also contains a great deal of false information on genetically engineered (GE) crops.   Most people are not aware of the extensive pre-market testing that must be done before any GE crop is allowed to be commercialized.  In reality, GE crops are tested 10-50 times the level of non-GE crops.  The testing examines potential hazards and the likelihood of exposure to determine the overall risks for GE crops and derived foods.    When testing food for safety international agreed s [...]

Other

Question

Q: what are two potential problems with genetically engineered foods?

Answered By Robert Wager M.Sc. - Jul 06, 2015

A: The Internet can be a wonderful source of science information.  Unfortunately, it also contains a great deal of false information on genetically engineered (GE) crops.   Most people are not aware of the extensive pre-market testing that must be done before any GE crop is allowed to be commercialized.  In reality, GE crops are tested 10-50 times the level of non-GE crops.  The testing examines potential hazards and the likelihood of exposure to determine the overall risks for GE crops and derived foods.    When testing food for safety international agreed s [...]

Answered By Robert Wager M.Sc. - Jul 06, 2015

A: The Internet can be a wonderful source of science information.  Unfortunately, it also contains a great deal of false information on genetically engineered (GE) crops.   Most people are not aware of the extensive pre-market testing that must be done before any GE crop is allowed to be commercialized.  In reality, GE crops are tested 10-50 times the level of non-GE crops.  The testing examines potential hazards and the likelihood of exposure to determine the overall risks for GE crops and derived foods.    When testing food for safety international agreed s [...]

Other

Question

Q: Can GMOs be removed by distillation?

Answered By Robert Wager M.Sc. - May 19, 2016

A: Although this seems like a very straight forward question, there are different answers depending on which jurisdiction one ifis talking about and what one’s definition of GMO is. For the purpose of this answer we will define GMO as any organism that has had its DNA altered using genetic engineering (GE).   In the case of ethanol production there are several sources of components that are or have been derived from genetically engineered (scientifically correct term for GM) organisms. The carbon source may be from GE sugar beets or GE corn and the yeasts used to ferment the carbon [...]

Business Practices Labeling

Question

Q: Finish product ethanol after distillation which has no traces of GMO, made from GMO corn crop is it consider to be GMO free or not?

Answered By Robert Wager M.Sc. - May 11, 2016

A: As with this related question, the answer is far more complex than a simple yes or no. Different jurisdictions have different rules and regulations regarding what is a genetically engineered or GE (scientific term for GMO’s). Detectability is often the trigger for GMO status. A further complication has some jurisdictions exempt certain products from local GMO labeling rules.   Different jurisdictions have different rules about what constitutes a GMO product. Europe considers the threshold for GMO labeling to be any product containing ingredients derived from a GE crop at 0.9 [...]

Labeling

Question

Q: What is the difference between a GMO and a product produced with genetic engineering? We got a mustard that says its a product produced with genetic engineering but non of the ingredients listed are GMOs. We are proGMO, just curious!

Answered By Robert Wager M.Sc. - Jun 08, 2017

A: The broad scientific definition of a GMO is any organism that has had its genome (DNA) modified. This of course includes virtually all food crops as domestication or breeding is, by its very nature, the modification of the genome of that crop. There are very few foods that have not been genetically modified by humans: wild fish, game, berries and mushrooms. Some “traditional” forms of breeding cause massive changes to the DNA. Examples include ionizing radiation mutagenesis or chemical mutagenesis that randomly change the DNA. There are thousands of commercial food crops made with th [...]

Labeling