©12 The Media Desk
"I need the Dr to research this and tell me if it's true. Can you tell if fruit has been genetically engineered by the PLU code at the store?"
"Yes, Ma'am. But remember, you asked."
First we'll look at the PLU tie-in and examine exactly what 'genetic engineering' is, then we'll stroll through a much larger, and darker issue and perhaps end up living out an old, somewhat chilling, statement usually reserved for those who deserve it. But in our case, all we did to deserve it was to order lunch:
"Yes, Ma'am. But remember, you asked."
First we'll look at the PLU tie-in and examine exactly what 'genetic engineering' is, then we'll stroll through a much larger, and darker issue and perhaps end up living out an old, somewhat chilling, statement usually reserved for those who deserve it. But in our case, all we did to deserve it was to order lunch:
"To PLU or not to PLU, that is the question."
And the answer to that question is: Yes, and no. And... it really depends.
Some of the 1500 label codes that appear on fruits and vegetables actually do identify GMO (Genetically Modified Organism), or Organic, or whatever, produce. And some codes don't. And different codes for the same item may or may not tell you anything special about the produce in question. Most large chain stores use the standardized PLU codes administered by the Produce Marketing Association (see link below), but not all do. The same with shelf labeling as the definitions of organic, non-GMO, free range, fair trade, sustainable, does not contain man made nanoscale ingredients, and so on, as there is no agreed upon legal definition for any of it, and as of this writing, compliance with any or all of the PMA's standards is entirely voluntary, and as there is a fee associated with the Association, some smaller chains, wholesalers and local stores don't belong to it. As for that roadside stand, the 'informal markets' if you want the fancy word for them.... you're kidding yourself.
And on top of all of that, you have to add in a trust level with your wholesaler and retailer and the high school kid that is putting the produce out.
Once the sticker is put on the celery at the processing facility for the hormone filled artificial color sprayed pesticide riddled factory farm by the sticker machine, it is supposed to stay on the product until removed by the consumer. It is supposed to. Did the produce guy peel that label off and then put it out in the Organic Local Grower bin at twice as much per pound? Who knows? You have to trust that they didn't.
Can you, the average consumer, tell the difference between a Hybrid and a GMO and a Heritage item by just looking at it? No. At least in most cases.
Oh, by the way, just in case you trip over some of these terms, some of the people in this field call what we are talking about "nucleic acid bioengineering", "transgenic", or even "xenotransplantation", or other such mouthfuls instead of saying Genetically Engineered, or Genetic Modification, and suchlike, which make some people come down with an acute case of the fantods. It is all the same thing- the tinkering with various flora and fauna at the cellular or chromosomal level.
For our purposes here, we will try to stick to the abbreviation GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) whether we are talking about corn, goats, or people. OK?
Yeah, 'people' were on that list. But we'll come back to that, "trust us on that."
The same issue of trust goes for locally raised produce versus that Agribusiness/factory farm with the celery we mentioned earlier. In many cases, produce from a few miles away will look more or less like its cousins from a thousand miles away in everything but the price. So it is not unheard of for some businesses to sell stuff trucked in as local at a sometimes significantly higher price. Any repercussions, including charges of false advertising or fraud from the misrepresentation are usually a minor inconvenience at best and some bad publicity at worst. Some outfits see it as simply the cost of doing business.
Of course those sorts of unscrupulous businesses aren't the ones you want to do business with to begin with. And such intentional acts are nothing short of criminal, and one would hope that such things would be an aberration instead of a standard business practice. But you really can't know can you?
And face it, the people putting out the stickers with the GMO information on them say on their 'biotechnology' page on their website that they believe these types of foods to be safe and healthy. So one has to ask how motivated they are to label things that ARE modified when their members can charge more for food that, supposedly, is not.
"The Produce Marketing Association believes that sound science must be the basis for decisions about all food safety issues. Based on extensive scientific research and extensive review by the U.S. government and international food and science experts, biotechnology has been deemed to be a safe and viable technology. PMA supports the government's decision regarding the regulation of produce developed through traditional as well as new biotechnological methods."
http://www.pma.com/resources/issues-monitoring/growing-production/biotechnology (hotlink to website below.)
And now another wrinkle into the mix.
While the PMA says it is a world-wide trade group, it really isn't. Yes, many South American countries have producers and regulators that are members, as do New Zealand and Australia. Which is a wonderful thing as they export a lot of produce to the US. But membership is not required and many suppliers in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, and others simply chose not to belong.
Again, the group is voluntary and has no legal standing other than the willing compliance by its members. As to what standards a second string supplier from Peru or Brazil adheres to is anybody's guess, and, as we'll see in a few moments, some countries allow GMO and otherwise meddled with produce to be sold for export that they restrict inside their own country. As for how export-only stuff is labeled, well, there's that matter of trust again.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2012—The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that on Dec. 1, the Government of Japan approved Rainbow papaya for commercial shipment to Japan. The Rainbow papaya is genetically engineered to be resistant to the papaya ringspot virus. This announcement marks the beginning of a new chapter for Hawaiian papaya growers.Oh, yes.
From: PMA.com (the fruit sticker people)
And Now Comes GMO and other flavors of what some call "Franken-Food".
We're going to start of talking about plants, then we'll talk about animals, and then we'll go from there. Eventually, we'll answer the question by raising several more.
WARNING: you may not like what you read. Beginning with the fact that some experts say that nearly three quarters of the food and beverages on supermarket shelves contain genetically modified ingredients. Such as sugar from GMO sugar beets, of which very nearly 100% of those used in commercial production in the US have been genetically engineered for a variety of reasons including being pesticide and rot resistant. And wait until you see the numbers on corn and soybeans, which are in almost everything in one way or another.
And don't look now, "LL rice 62" is on its way.
pardon a brief history tangent
The genetic modification of food through hybridization began, well, when do you think? In the 1970s with the rise of 'factory farms' and massive agribusinesses? After World War Two? Maybe with Luther Burbank and his garden in the 1900's. And a hybrid has been genetically modified. Its two sets of parent genes come from creatures that may have never met in the wild, let alone breed. And in some cases, the fertilization could not have happened without human intervention.
And then what are you going to do with 'grafting'? Such as the splicing of French grape vines onto American root stock that saved their wine industry in the 1870s. A practice that was later rendered obsolete through the cross breeding of French and American vines- the bioengineering of a better grape. Or at least one that was resistant to phylloxera, the aphid that caused the blight. Did it change the wine? They are still debating that to this day.
For his part Mr. Burbank simply documented the process and developed a way of predicting the outcome of certain cross pollinations. And he built a thriving seed business based on his hybrid plants. A process discovered by Johann Gregor Mendel working with his peas in the 1850's in Europe.
But the process has been around for somewhat longer, and the results of cross breeding of various wild grains, either by accident or by design, the result of which could then be harvested by humans around Gobekli Tepe in what is now Turkey in, oh, say, 10,000 BC or so.
we now resume the GMO article already in progress
Of course there is a major difference between cross breeding two different types of grains or potatoes to come up with a new variety that you can then sell through your catalog, and using genetic splicing techniques in a laboratory to take a gene which may make one type of plant, some kind of switch grass maybe, drought resistant and insert it into the chromosomes of another type of plant, say, a species of corn, and come up with a cash crop that can better tolerate low rainfall. Which, on the surface, you'd think would be a good thing to do.
But nobody knows what that kind of genetic manipulation, using the natural characteristics of one type of plant to 'enhance' another in some way desirable to people, making a larger seed head for instance, will do to the plants so manipulated, or to the greater environment, or to those that eat the plants, whether animal or human, in the long run. Or what would happen if the mutation 'goes wild' through cross-pollination by some bees that didn't get the memo that they weren't supposed to do that?
And then there is another factor that must be considered. What will the mutated gene do out in the world as it enters the food chain outside its normal realm. Say if some of the seed is washed into a waterway. Will the mutation allow this species of wheat or corn to become something akin to a new version of water hyacinth and overrun a major river? In many cases, even after years of careful research, the plant scientists that did the job simply don't know.
And finally, will the seeds produced by the modified plants be viable? And if so, and they will grow, what sorts of plants will they be and what about the seeds they produce? Will the modified trait be passed on? Will there be other changes that might be harmful in some way? Will the trait mutate further? They often have no idea.
Somebody just asked, "why don't they know?"
It's simple, that's not what they are researching.
The idea behind this sort of research, and related fields such as nano-science (dealing with extremely small materials that can be small enough to either enter a living cell or ride around on one), is to improve the food supply in some way. A noble enough goal at first brush:
"Proponents argue that GM crops have the potential to be of enormous benefit to farmers and consumers in less developed nations – increasing the quantity and nutritional quality, of food where hunger and malnutrition are huge problems."
2001 BBC article
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/sci_tech/highlights/010322_seed.shtml (link below)
And if that was all it was, with no 'dark side', those who are against it would be written off with other crackpots and we'd all go about our business.
Face it, none of this work was done just for fun or for the overall betterment of the food supply or whatever. Even during the 'tulip mania' of the 1630's in the Netherlands (AKA Holland), when a virus was used to create different patterns of color in the flowers, there was a profit motive to the work being done. Most people have heard the ridiculous price paid for a single bulb of the viceroy tulip (the one that included a thousand liters of wine, eight pigs, a thousand pounds of cheese, a bed, and a suit), but most don't realize how much the average bulb of some of the most popular types of flower were going for. An average skilled craftsman was making three to four hundred guilders a year while some of the most in demand bulbs were selling for three to five thousand guilders each.
Ten times the going wage, for a flower bulb that might never even bloom.
"But the tulip thing wasn't genetic engineering!"
Maybe not by our standards today... but then again, maybe it was.
We're talking about using the genes of a plant, or to be honest, anything with DNA, such as dairy cows (or people), to affect a change in the organism. Such as increased milk production of the cow through selective breeding for the desirable trait.
A virus is a small piece of DNA or RNA that is not viable outside of a living host cell. Once it enters the cell, it goes about its business of making copies of itself, and in the process thereof, it may do other things to the host, such as cause smallpox in people, or make a plant's leaves change color.
The 'tulip breaking virus' caused random, and sometimes quite spectacular irregularities in the colors of the petals of the flowers which were otherwise of a single color, or at most, two colors. One of the unintended consequences of said 'breaking' was that the plants were actually sick, their stems were shorter and often weaker and they were less tolerant of weather stress. Resulting in the eventual extinction of several of the varieties that fueled the craze.
Today's 'variegated' tulips are done with selective breeding, and, yes, some genetic alterations as well if some of the tulip fancier's websites are to be believed.
Also, today some medical researchers are talking about using the viral mechanism to deliver a payload of either medication or a genetic 'bomb' to disease cells, like cancer, in patients. Which is genetic engineering by any standard. So, the tulip guys were simply the grandfathers of today's cutting edge medical science.
We'll come back to the punch line to that one a bit later.
"What sorts of foods are being genetically modified?"
You'd be better off asking, 'what isn't'.
This paragraph is from the Produce Marketers webpage as motioned above.
"The World Health Organisation issued a June 2005 report on a study it conducted on the application of modern biotechnology in food production: “Modern food biotechnology, human health and development: an evidence-based study." The report noted: “The first major GM food was introduced on the market in the mid-1990s. Since then GM strains of maize (corn), soybeans, rape (canola), and cotton have been marketed internationally in several areas. In addition, GM varieties of papaya, potato, rice, squash, sugar beet and tomato have been released. It is estimated that GM crops cover almost 4% of total global arable land."
http://www.pma.com/resources/issues-monitoring/growing-production/biotechnology (link below)
When you look at the raw numbers in the US (pun, as it were, intended), roughly ninety percent of soybeans, corn, cotton (where do you think cottonseed oil comes from?), and a good percentage of a handful of other products have been genetically modified. World Wide, with soybeans so we cover the vegan's delight of tofu and soy milk, the total percentage crop modification is pushing eighty percent as of the last reporting year. Other crops drop significantly percentage wise when you look globally, but some are still running at or near half of everything grown.
And remember, we haven't even mentioned the bio-engineering of animals yet, including a 'better' type of the bacteria that make cheese. This is all only been about corn and soybeans.... and cotton. But don't worry, we'll get there. OK?
"Wait a minute.... Cotton?"
Yes, cotton. The cotton that is used for seed oil and protein meal (for both human consumption and animal feed), and fiber for clothes has largely been genetically engineered to be resistant to pests in and of itself, and some has been altered to produce other traits such as more fiber or whatever.
So if you're going 'natural' and don't want to wear cotton because it has been genetically altered, you can always wear wool right?
"GM merino sheep grew more wool, while the Poll Dorset breed grew less," he says. "In some GM offspring the extra gene, although present, was silenced and not expressed."
http://www.csiro.au/files/mediarelease/mr2002/prgmsheep.htm (link below)
Moving on, and trust us, we'll come back to the Animal Kingdom.
Most genetic engineering of these crops has been to reduce loss to pests and disease, including making the seeds able to withstand being soaked with pesticide or fungicide prior to planting, or to be more resistant to drought, or prolonged storage prior to planting, or whatever. Other changes were to make the plants grow in such a way as to be better suited for mechanical harvesting. Which, at least on the surface would appear to be another good idea. And then some manipulation has also been done in the food grain area, such as to increase seed head density or placement. Something that directly involves the food on your table, or the feed given to livestock, and gets more people's attention.
But on the other hand the Genetically Modified tomato, launched with great fanfare and acclaim because it resisted bruising during shipping and could sit in storage for some time with no loss of quality, was a commercial flop for a couple of reasons, one of the biggest was that consumers wouldn't touch the thing because it had the GMO label on it, both figuratively and literally. So later modifications to commercials crops have been done without being the lead story on the food segment on network news shows, but they have still been done.
"But we eat stuff out of our garden, or from a local farm, so we're safe. Right?"
Well, where do you, or they, get the seeds to plant?
At least with Burpee company, they do NOT sell GMO stock, see link below.
But some of the others, especially some of those companies that sell seeds and baby plants in department stores, don't say things like this:
"For the record, I own W. Atlee Burpee & Co. Burpee is NOT owned by Monsanto. We do purchase a small number of seeds from the garden seed department of Seminis, a Monsanto subsidiary, and so do our biggest competitors. We do NOT sell GMO seed, never have in the past, and will not sell it in the future."
George Ball, Burpee Chairman and CEO
http://www.burpee.com (link below)
But it should be noted here and now that because a packet of turnip or spinach seeds doesn't say that they are, or are not, "heirloom" or "Non-GMO" doesn't mean anything one way or the other. All that means is that they are not labeled. But being 'Non-GMO' is not the same thing as the tag 'heirloom'. A word used to indicate that the plants have been worked on one way or the other is "improved". It could mean it is a hybrid, a genetically engineered plant, or even both.
Remember the tulips? They weren't engineered in a lab, they were 'crossbred' for the given trait carried by the disease. And some went extinct.
Hybridization is another matter all together, and IS NOT Genetic Engineering according to the people that put the PLU tags on the pears. But again, in the end, it amounts to the same thing. Breeding for a specific trait to be amplified or even introduced in the first place. More on that in a minute.
Many garden plants have tags that say something along the lines of F1, FFG, or something similar on them. The tag is talking about those plants being the "first filial generation" of a hybrid between two parent stocks. It is also likely that the seeds of the F1 plants are not viable or will produce unexpected, and probably unwanted traits in plants grown from them. An F2 tag means it is a second generation hybrid, the plants have been cross bred twice to get the results the developer wanted, but again, the offspring won't be like the parents.
Sounds like they've been genetically engineered, especially when you read things like this:
"Cytoplasmically inherited male sterility (CMS) results from an interaction between the organellar and nuclear genomes that conditions the failure to produce functional pollen . CMS provides an expedient mechanism to produce large populations of male-sterile plants for commercial Fl hybrid seed production. In cases where the Fl hybrid crop must produce pollen and set seed, male sterility can be reversed by nuclear-encoded restorer-of-fertility alleles. Although the unfortunate epidemic of Southern Corn Leaf Blight on T-cytoplasmic maize revealed the dangers of hybrid-seed production using a single source of CMS, no other genetic vulnerability to disease or stress has been attributed directly to a CMS gene, in spite of the worldwide use of CMS."
The problem of what is genetic engineering and what is not is not new, and in some ways, is even more of a issue than genetically engineered plants and their problems
"The ability to genetically manipulate organisms to produce desirable crop traits that can benefit producers, consumers, and the environment, will likely revolutionize the production and marketing of agriculture and food products worldwide. U.S. multinational companies are among the leading developers of genetically modified crop varieties—especially export crops such as corn, soybeans, and cotton—and U.S. producers of these crops are adopting this new technology at a rapid rate. The acceptance of GMOs in the world market is critical for the future prosperity of U.S. producers of corn, soybeans, and cotton, and for the companies that provide the technology, because of these crops’ dependence on exports."
USDA paper from 1998
http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/wrs984/wrs984e.pdf (hotlink below)
Part of the problem is that there is no regulatory unity for this in spite of some high sounding language. To wit:
"Although specific practices and materials used by organic operations may vary, the standards require every aspect of organic production and handling to comply with the provisions of the Organic Foods Production Act. Organically produced food cannot be produced using genetic engineering, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation. These standards include a national list of approved synthetic, and prohibited nonsynthetic, substances for use in organic production and handling."
http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/eib55/eib55.pdf link to USDA below
Can something that is Genetically Engineered be raised under Organic flag? Of course. But doing so would violate the "spirit" of consumer labeling which clearly states that "organic" products, but curiously, the words Genetically Modified and variations thereof don't appear on the public notice. They do in the regulations (example link below), but not on the consumer information sheet. (curious, no?)
Of course there is an out. And it would appear to have been written by government lawyers.
"Products labeled “organic” must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). Any remaining product ingredients must consist of nonagricultural substances approved on the National List including specific non-organically produced agricultural products that are not commercially available in organic form."
http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELDEV3004446&acct=nopgeninfo (link below)
As we stated, very nearly 100% of things like soybeans, corn, and sugar beets available in the US have been Genetically Modified. "Organic" ingredients from those are essentially "Not Commercially Available". It is a weaselly way to do things, but, remember, we are talking about the US Federal Government and its non-organic alphabet soup agencies and their sometimes bewildering regulations written by lobbiest for... whoever.
"Under current guidelines, a genetically-modified ear of corn sold at a produce stand is not regulated by the FDA because it is a whole food, but a box of cornflakes is regulated because it is a food product."
http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview.php (link below)
No. We're not kidding. The full paragraph is below with a hotlink to the source.
But, anyway, while the USDA (Dept of Agriculture) is at least a little hesitant in pushing the limits of biotechnology, it would appear that the FDA (Food and Drug Admin) is all for it, and they are both agencies under the Executive branch of the US Government (the FDA being under the Department of Health while Agriculture is its own department). Which means we have 'funny fish' swimming around the ocean soon, if they're not already.
On September 19-21, 2010, the FDA will hold two public meetings on AquAdvantage Salmon, a genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon intended to be used for food
FDA public hearing notice
http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm224089.htm (link below)
So animals that have been directly bio-engineered are at least on their way to the human food supply.
What about engineering animals to produce genetic medicines for use on us?
"No, they can't do that, they wouldn't do that."
Too late. 'They' are doing it.
There is even a cute little catch word for the practice- "pharming" it's called in some news coverage of announcements like this:
...the proposal is to develop... "A specific hemizygous diploid line of domestic goats (Capra aegagrus hircus), containing 5 copies of the Bc6 rDNA construct located at the GTC 155-92 site, directing the expression of the human gene for antithrombin (which is intended for the treatment of humans) in the mammary gland of goats derived from lineage progenitor 155-92"
"With this technology come some new concerns for potential environmental impacts. Some of these include the risks of animal escape and establishment in feral populations, the disposal of GE animals once they have completed their useful lives, and the disposal of GE animal wastes and waste products that may contain recombinant genes or gene products." http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AnimalVeterinary/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/GeneticEngineering/GeneticallyEngineeredAnimals/UCM163814.pdf link below
It was approved in 2009. There are "several hundred" goats munching happily away at their feed producing the genetic material in two states, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. But at least the researchers were worried about some of the same things we've been discussing, namely, what to do with them when they have outlived their "useful lives", what to do with their waste (namely, is it contaminated with the new gene?), and what to do with the goats when they assume room temperature.
Of course the genes our goats are making is to prevent certain patients from developing life threatening blood clots during surgery, which is a good thing for goats to do we're sure. But the same process can be used to produce many other genetic factors, some which may not be so beneficial as the antithrombin factor.
The next step is the use of the nano-technology that has been lurking around the edges of our discussion here to insert the modified genetic material into living human cells inside the patient using either a modified virus, or perhaps one that is totally artificial.
They're doing that too, it would appear that human trials have begun.
"We hypothesized that a poxvirus, which evolved for blood-borne systemic spread in mammals, could be engineered for cancer-selective replication and used as a vehicle for the intravenous delivery and expression of transgenes in tumours. JX-594 is an oncolytic poxvirus engineered for replication, transgene expression and amplification in cancer cells..."
There are nano-scale materials that can be used for the tracking of food crops, in case, say, a given bunch of greens or fruits are contaminated in some way. Using the marker, they can be traced back to the distributor, or even the very field they came from. Other materials can be used to encase anti-fungal agents to keep the food fresh longer, or to become active above a certain temperature or level of humidity. Others can be used to deliver medication or nutrients to animals that eat them, or even to other plants when what it has been applied to is used as mulch or fertilizer.
The prospects for other applications of the technology itself, and the ability to combine all of the above into a delivery system for the treatments of other diseases or their prevention, or even the development of new products and services is essentially limited only by the imaginations of their developers, and of course the funding for ongoing research.
Right? Think about it. All of the pieces are there. Just put them together. 'connect the dots' if you will.
How's this picture?
It sounds like a movie you would see in the middle of the night...
It is conceivable that a genetic mutation for a given trait or condition could be introduced into a food product that would then transfer into any organism that ate it and then manifest whatever condition it was designed to promote. Or if that wasn't workable, a virus could be engineered to deliver the payload of a nanomaterial in the same way, either through food or water, or another, probably stealthy way, say, casual contact with a surface prepared with a virus capable of penetrating the skin. And then maybe to even replicate itself, and the payload, for distribution to other cells and other individuals as well.
Such a delivery system would be useful for the administration of a compound that would curb aggressive tendencies among prison inmates. That would be very useful wouldn't it, even humane. Trained staff could simply walk down the tier in the middle of the night and apply it to door handles and the water fountain. Maybe it could be added to the coffee at breakfast as well. Less violence in a state penitentiary would be a worthwhile goal wouldn't it?
Less aggressive, more compliant inmates. Perhaps less resistant more compliant and obliging citizens as well.
And thereby comes our movie plot. What started out as a good idea administered with the best of intentions turns back on itself and becomes... evil.
See, it doesn't have to be a material or disease factor that would kill everybody, perhaps something to make everybody feel better about standing in the unemployment line, or whatever was desired.
And not only is it conceivable... it is even likely.
Has it been done? One would have be a fool to say "no" immediately. Maybe it really hasn't, but.... all of the mechanisms are in place. We've already seen some parts of it out and in play, for instance, a flu shot nose spray. If the flu vaccine can be microencapsulated to be effective after being aerosolized, what else can be? An engineered gene? The only remaining issue is dose size and range of effective distribution as will be discussed in a moment.
Yes, such an idea is now fully in the realm of those who live and breathe conspiracy theories and see devious plots by those with deep pockets of ill gotten gain that has given them an international reach to compose their plans with similar individuals, usually from the "military - industrial complex" with the final act of the play being.... well, a really bad day for the rest of us.
But, in reality, there is nothing to prevent such a thing.
To think seriously that there is a significant prospect for a party or parties unknown, who can, without your knowledge or consent, significantly alter you on a biological and even genetic level, and do so from anywhere in the world, while remaining anonymous AND unchanged, is, well, it is two things: One, chilling. Two: to most people, it makes them wonder where you ordered your tinfoil hat.
Perhaps those who believe, or, to use the TV commentator's favorite word, those who "feel" such a thing is beyond the realm of the possibility have already been exposed to one of these agents.
A few years ago being worried about the 'weaponization' of various viruses and bacteria was all the rage. People stockpiled various drugs and surgical masks against something being sprayed over a city by a crop duster or dropped into the water supply.
As a wise man, in this case- Paracelsus, once put it, the "dose makes the poison." If your agent was dispersed into a reservoir or blown by the wind, it probably would be less effective than you wanted it. Something that was able to deliver a more concentrated hit to an individual or group would be much more effective (remember the nose spray?), even if it took a bit longer to get the numbers you wanted. And maybe not be as dramatic as the Sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system.
Perhaps something that might pass for several years without being noticed until a certain number of people have been given the inoculation. Making some sort of "desirable" change in the biologic or genetic makeup in the target population. Perhaps making them... ... "better".
There was a word for it before World War Two that has since fallen out of favor.
Again, there is nothing to prevent such a thing except that those with access to the technology have no reason TO do it.
Perhaps, there's no profit in it....
"Medicine is not only a science; it is also an art. It does not consist of compounding pills and plasters; it deals with the very processes of life, which must be understood before they may be guided."
Paracelsus (1493 - 1541)
And now if you will pardon me, they're having a sale on tinfoil hats .....
Original question from the blog post "ID Genetically Modified Food At The Supermarket" www.kipnews.org
Produce Marketing Association http://www.pma.com
It's their stickers the blogger was putting their faith in.
Them What Does It and their Regulators
Sources as cited from the United States Department of Agriculture at USDA.gov
USDA Consumer page
Emerging Issues in the U.S. Organic Industry
USDA Biotech pages
With an AMAZING chart!
From the US Environmental Protection Agency, EPA.gov
Study page: "Ecological Risk of Genetically Modified Crops"
"Biotech in Pest Management"
International Union of Food Science & Technology http://iufost.org/
Institute of Food Technologists http://www.ift.org
2001 BBC article
"GM Crops: Food For Thought" www.bbc.co.uk
FOOD & STUFF
Food Safety Policy in DC (It's a 'blog' but the author raises some good points): http://www.responsibletechnology.org
The George Mateljan Foundation's statement about GMOs
Both at: www.whfoods.com
Their statement about what they do.
Both at: http://www.testbiotech.org
A very informative site in the EU: gmo-compass.org
Another informative page: www.centerforfoodsafety.org
The "ear of corn" paragraph mentioned above:
"In the United States, the regulatory process is confused because there are three different government agencies that have jurisdiction over GM foods. To put it very simply, the EPA evaluates GM plants for environmental safety, the USDA evaluates whether the plant is safe to grow, and the FDA evaluates whether the plant is safe to eat. The EPA is responsible for regulating substances such as pesticides or toxins that may cause harm to the environment. GM crops such as B.t. pesticide-laced corn or herbicide-tolerant crops but not foods modified for their nutritional value fall under the purview of the EPA. The USDA is responsible for GM crops that do not fall under the umbrella of the EPA such as drought-tolerant or disease-tolerant crops, crops grown for animal feeds, or whole fruits, vegetables and grains for human consumption. The FDA historically has been concerned with pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and food products and additives, not whole foods. Under current guidelines, a genetically-modified ear of corn sold at a produce stand is not regulated by the FDA because it is a whole food, but a box of cornflakes is regulated because it is a food product. The FDA's stance is that GM foods are substantially equivalent to unmodified, "natural" foods, and therefore not subject to FDA regulation."
Just something else to read to make your eyes water:
"Nanoscale Science And Engineering For Agriculture And Food Systems" http://www.nseafs.cornell.edu
The Non-GMO statement at Burpee Seeds Burpee.com
This one is a .... www.seedcatalog.com
"Germany Bans Genetically Modified Corn- Europe in an Uproar" http://blog.friendseat.com
The FDA's GMO Livestock page: www.fda.gov
Breeding "Strange Animals for Business Purposes with pictures from- www.businesspundit.com
Goats make silk:
Fish: (the trout as mentioned in the article) at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com
Cancer gene therapy in people: http://www.cancer.gov
The goats that make it. http://www.fda.gov
Engineering the "Poxvirus" to fight cancer (couldn't they have come up with a better name?): Nature.com
Other Non-Fiction and Mystery Series Articles
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