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August 6, 2015

There Is No Science of Genetic Engineering

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There’s no such thing as a science of GMOs. There’s an ideology of genetic engineering which is based on debunked junk science. This ideology has nothing to do with the actual practice of genetic engineering, which is a scattershot empirical approach. Engineers basically throw gobs of money and laboratory brute force at a technical problem and hope something sticks. When you finally find a needle in a haystack you base your business model upon it. That’s why genetic engineering is so inefficient, wasteful, and expensive compared with conventional breeding. A genetically engineered variety costs over ten times as much to develop as whatever conventional variety it pirates and builds upon. And then the genetically engineered variety will be inferior to its forebear, being nothing but this forebear with a poison transgene inserted into it along with whatever genome scrambling and mutations it picked up along the way during the GE process.
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Genetic engineering developed its own version of the NPK ideology. Its dogma is: One gene = one trait. This dogma, along with the older one that genetics are the main (or only) factor dictating real life outcomes, enabled technicians to claim that they’d soon be able to precisely analyze, predict, and manipulate the relationship between genetic codes and the way plants, animals, and humans would develop and act in real life. This was their path to funding and influence, and it soon became the path to power for biotech corporations engaging in genetic engineering. One-gene-one-trait became the basis for all the foundation lies of genetic engineering: That it was a precision technology, that its effects could be precisely calibrated, that it would not have unforeseen effects, that food products generated this way would be safe and nutritious. The goal is to achieve total corporate enclosure, control, and domination through GMOs and eugenics.
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Based on these lies governments moved aggressively to approve and commercialize GMOs without performing any safety testing. To this day no government has ever performed a scientific safety trial on any GMO. The US set the standard for this anti-scientific, anti-public health policy under the banner of “substantial equivalence”, the lie that GMO crops are identical to real crops and therefore, by definition, don’t need to be safety tested.
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But all these the basic elements of genetic engineering ideology, so-called genetic engineering “science”, have been debunked.
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1. The foundation dogma of genetic engineering can be summed up as: One gene = one trait. This is also called the sequence hypothesis. DNA is composed of a series of bases, this series is transcribed onto RNA, which then uses this sequential code to arrange amino acids to form a protein. Based on this, and on what Francis Crick called the “central dogma” that this transcription process is the only thing happening (cf. #2), it should follow that since there are c. 100,000 human proteins, there must be c. 100,000 genes in the human genome. How could the same initial DNA “sentence” be transcribed in ways that result in different proteins?
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But in reality the sequence hypothesis turned out to be false. One-gene-one-trait has been completely disproven, most spectacularly by the corporate system’s own Human Genome Project. The expected 100,000 genes in the human code turned out to be just over 20,000. We now know that most genes have multiple effects, and that the range of these effects is very difficult to catalog. Similarly, we know that many phenotype traits, to the extent they have a genetic basis, are the result of several genes collaborating. Similarly, it’s very difficult to identify all the genetic contributors.
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2. Along with the sequence hypothesis, Francis Crick promulgated what he called genetic engineering’s Central Dogma, the faith that there is only a one-way transmission of genetic information, from DNA to RNA to protein. As Crick put it, “Once information gets into protein it cannot get out again.” A connoisseur of hubris might suspect that a proposition dubbed by its own founder the “Central Dogma” would be full of holes, and so it has turned out for Crick’s article of faith. Five times as many proteins as genes is rather wide of the expected one-to-one correspondence, and the reason is that special proteins work to rearrange the DNA base code in myriad ways creating an array of messenger RNA molecules so that one original sequence can be used to produce many proteins, and so that multiple original sequences can be combined in various ways to produce proteins. It turns out that proteins are in fact very active in producing new genetic information, and that lots of information is indeed “getting out” of these proteins.
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Even more fundamentally, DNA itself is not immaculately self-replicated, but rather replication is performed by the organic cell. This includes the action of coordination and repair enzymes, without which DNA replication would contain vastly more numerous errors than it does. So not only do proteins work on RNA, they keep the exalted DNA itself honest. Information gets out of proteins and into the DNA itself.
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So we have the far more intrepid role of proteins in genetic coding than was allowed for by genetic engineering “science”, or as it calls itself in this case, dogma. Then there’s the fact that protein folding is as important as protein coding. Mad Cow Disease is caused by a protein in the brain chemically identical to the normal one, but folded differently. The disease-causing alternative folding is transmitted from one protein molecule (called a prion) to another. Scrapie is another disease caused by self-transmission of prions. As usual, Crick had simply assumed that the genetically-determined amino acid sequence of a protein also dictated how it folded itself. Only some kind of genetic screw-up could cause a misfolding. But subsequent science found the opposite. Contrary to the central dogma, the coded protein still needs the proper assistance of other proteins called “chaperones” to be correctly folded. Conversely, prions containing no nucleic acid can on their own “infect” and cause contiguous proteins to refold themselves in conformity to the prion’s shape, and then become infectious themselves. That’s how Mad Cow spreads. There we have two more examples of how proteins transmit genetic information in defiance of GE’s central dogma.
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These facts don’t just demolish the theoretical pretensions of genetic engineering science. They also give a clear picture of how complex and holistic genetic processes are, and therefore how easily the bull-in-a-china-shop genome havoc wreaked by the genetic engineering process can cause every kind of genetic disruption, mutation, and disease-causing structural malfunction.
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3. Beyond any prior philosophical debates about nature vs. nurture, genetic determinism has long been refuted on purely scientific grounds. Phenotype is affected at least as much by epigenetics and environmental factors as it is by the genetic code, which in many ways sets up a range of possibilities rather than dictates an outcome. In effect, a genetic potentiality is often a switch which must still be turned on (or off) by some external factor: Climate, the parent/mother’s health and diet during pregnancy, or the conditions under which an egg or seed develops, an infant’s diet, infant exposure to agents in the water or air, psychological stresses, environmental stresses on a growing crop, etc. This last turned out to cause serious unforeseen, because not calculable according to the paper-mapped genome, problems for Roundup Ready soybeans. Genetic determinism is a debunked fraud which is kept in the field only by its inherent usefulness for GMO propaganda, the Big Pharma model of medicine, and its implications for a revived eugenics program, which remains the great goal for these technicians.
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So the three basic theories of genetic engineering have been completely disproven. Yet to this day all advocacy of GMOs, and all the alleged “science” supporting GMOs, is based on these same three crackpot falsehoods: That heredity is destiny, that genetic information flow is unidirectional and easily described, and therefore precisely manipulable, and that one gene = one trait. We see how, just as genetic engineering has zero to do with science and is simply technical manipulation, so pro-GMO ideology has zero to do with science, but is rather a fraudulent political ideology based on nothing but Big Lies. For its true believers, it’s a fundamentalist secular religion.
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The takeaway: Genetic engineering is not science, and support for GMOs is anti-scientific, based on fidelity to crackpot lies.
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We can go into further detail.
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4. The myth that genetic engineering is the same as conventional breeding is essential to the propaganda of pro-GM activists. But this is pure snake oil.
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Breeding works with whole genomes among related species only (and no mutation-mongering tissue culture). Risks are rare and predictable, and can occur only in a few scenarios. Genetic engineering is qualitatively different in that the possible range of transgenic insertions is indefinitely greater than the genetic transfer possible in breeding, or in nature. With GE the potential for harmful chaotic effects is vastly greater and completely unpredictable. Every genetically engineered genome which has been independently studied has displayed the complete mess left behind by the “event”. Submissions to regulators detailing the alleged genome of the GMO are mystical fictions which have no relationship to the unpredictably messy reality. More on this below.
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As for natural mutations and unforeseen effects of conventional breeding, which the pro-GMO activists claim means genetic engineering is the same as these processes, where these happen they happen locally. They run up against naturally evolved safeguards against mutation, and such changes would need time and effort to run a gamut of naturally imposed challenges, or the challenges of breeder selection, to become established. GE, on the contrary, aggressively seeks to override these safeguards and leap over these challenges. It seeks to deploy the infected genome in the environment over vast regions as fast as it can. This is such a difference of magnitude, speed, and geographical reach as to comprise a qualitative difference.
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Black Swan author Nassim Taleb recently co-authored a paper on this systemic risk aspect of genetic engineering. GE has zero in common with conventional breeding, physically or ecologically. The lies and denials of pro-GMO activists with regard to this fact demonstrate their general ignorance of evolution and flippant disregard for its implications. The most extreme manifestation of pro-GM evolution denial is this incapacity or refusal to recognize the great difference between adaptation in confrontation with a wide range of natural environmental hurdles over evolutionary time, vs. seeking to leap over all the hurdles in an instant, with the entire process from genetic extraction to insertion to breeding to distribution taking place in a totally artificial, hermetic, alien, non-contextual bubble, and from there to deploy a biological technology developed in this anti-environmental way all at once on a global basis in the real world. Under such circumstances a rational person would expect nothing but disaster.
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No rational person even slightly familiar with ecology, biology, genetics, agronomy, or history could take this seriously for a moment. Any natural allele, mutation, horizontal genetic transfer, etc. must run a long gauntlet of safeguards developed by evolution including the genome’s own repair mechanism, then the greater hurdles of the local environment, must adapt and spread over millions of years. Farmer selection and conventional breeding have followed such a pattern for 10,000 years.
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But the genetic engineering technique which has existed for just a few years now claims to supersede these thousands and millions of years. It claims to be able to leap over the evolutionary genetic hurdles using technology. This is impossible. Therefore GE implicitly seeks to maximize the harmful mutations, latent weaknesses, unfit traits, and hazards.
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Similarly, genetic engineering and the ramified GMO dissemination structure claim to be able to leap over the evolutionary environmental hurdles, as well as the geographic hurdles, using economic brute force. This means it wants to spread the infected, harmful genetic and biological material, and the harms which shall follow from it, as globally as possible as fast as possible.
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To sum up, genetic engineering ideology wants to leap over the entire evolutionary time and action during which all matters of fitness, quality, and toxicity are worked out by nature, or by human thought and labor in conjunction with nature. The hubris and contempt for science on display with these persons is staggering. No, genetic engineering has nothing in common with conventional breeding. GE can only be a debilitating parasite free riding on conventional breeding and destroying its work.
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With GMOs we have a phenomenon where politics and economics meld inextricably with ecology. Ecologists are really the only scientists fully qualified to speak about GMOs. Beyond that this technology is fundamentally a political and economic phenomenon. GMOs as deployed in the real world, rather than in the depraved minds of their idolators, have very little to do with science. This renders it all the more ironic when the pro-GM activists go hysterically braying about how even the most modest questions or criticisms are “anti-science! anti-science!”
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5. I’ll be writing more about “substantial equivalence” as an ideological dogma among regulators. It’s also a core element of GE junk science.
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Substantial equivalence is self-evidently an idiotic lie, since every GMO is, unlike its forebear, a poison plant. It is either suffused with herbicide residue and toxic breakdown products, and/or it produces its own endemic Bt toxins in every cell. This is obviously an extremely significant difference, and the fact that genetic engineering “science” can say with a straight face that in this way Radical Difference = Equivalence, demonstrates how far this body of claims has departed from anything recognizable as legitimate science, rationality, or indeed bare sanity.
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Beyond this self-evident radical difference between a GMO and its isogenic forebear (the true crop which was pirated and had the transgene inserted into its genome), independent study has found that every GMO genome analyzed has significant differences from its ancestor, while the GM crops which grow from these scrambled genes are compositionally different from their non-GM counterparts in many ways. (At that link, cf. “The sham of substantial equivalence” and the next two sections.)
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All the bogus “studies” which claim to provide evidence of the safety of GMOs but which do nothing of the sort, and which often provide evidence for the opposite thesis, are in effect nothing but another version of restating the original fundamentalist dogma, “they’re safe because they’re equivalent, so they don’t need to be tested.” To say something new governments and corporations would actually have to perform non-fraudulent studies, which they resolutely refuse to do.
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It’s worth mentioning that according to substantial equivalence, Mad Cow proteins are identical to the regular protein. Therefore beef containing them would pass regulatory muster by this standard.
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On a philosophical level, the substantial equivalence dogma is part of a general philosophy of faith in sterile, hermetic “being” over real-life processes of becoming. Genetic engineers and their fanboys want to envision, and want regulators and society to envision, an inert crop or food which is “substantially equivalent” to some indeterminate natural variety. The “process”, the actual becoming, is to be seen as ineffable and effectively meaningless and irrelevant. Only a Platonic idea of the static product matters. This junk philosophy is the progenitor of the junk science of “the” genome, whether it be the propaganda idea conjured by the Human Genome Project (“the” human genome; but this can never be more than a synthesis from a sample); or the regulatory submissions which claim to describe “the” genome of a GMO even though it doesn’t describe the real genome of any actual commercial crop, since these vary naturally, and the genetically engineered versions vary far more, often chaotically; or the pseudo-scientific fraud so often run in the criminal courts where the authorities test a defendant’s DNA vs. another piece of DNA and declare them “matched” by the measure of some tendentiously defined genomic range (again a fraudulent synthesis said to represent reality).
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This pseudo-scientific trend among engineers and other scienticians is part of their general hostility to genealogy, history, learning about origins. Scientism, technocracy, like the general bourgeois ideology of which they are part, are anti-history. Then journalism and academia join the regulators in dogmatizing history out of existence. That’s the overarching ideological backdrop where we see such specific greed-based corruptions at work as the corporations lobbying the regulators to consider only the final “product” and not the “process”, never mind that the radically different process results in a substantially very different product. Behind it all is the age old authoritarian hatred of change except for change the “authority” premeditates and sets in motion. Beyond this it yearns to fix things in place once and for all, at least in thought.
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6. The same appetite for control is the source of the quasi-religious doctrine of genetic engineering’s “precision”, really an article of fundamentalist faith. In reality, the insertion process is scattershot and very messy. The most common method of insertion is to literally fire the transgenic material from a gun into a mass of target tissue. (This should remind us of another “precision” lie, that of so-called “smart bombing”, which has always been just as scattershot, dumb, and murderous as the regular kind.) The transgene ends up in a random part of the target genome, often with parts of the gene cassette separated and splattered elsewhere, or else inexplicably duplicated in other parts of the target genome. (The cassette itself is precisely assembled only on paper. The real thing is often a cobbled-together mess.) The violence of the process damages the target genome in unpredictable ways. Insertion always generates mutations. The process is so haphazard that the cassette must include an identification marker, usually an antibiotic resistance marker, so that after the insertion the transgenic material which successfully was inserted can be identified. This means dousing the target cells with a strong antibiotic which kills all the cells except those which incorporated the transgene. This joins subtherapeutic antibiotic abuse in factory farms as one of industrial agriculture’s campaigns to eradicate antibiotics as a medically effective treatment, through the willful, systematic generation of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
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The transgenic material must now be grown into seedlings in tissue culture, which causes more mutations. Then plants are grown, assessed, and selected, first in greenhouse laboratories and then in field trials. This selection is based on testing whether the poison plant “works” (does it tolerate the herbicide and/or express the insecticide in its cells), and beyond that simple eyeballing of which specimens look the best. The great bulk of genomic chaos and mutations, including any harmful or maladaptive traits, especially ones latent and ready to be switched on by any number of environmental factors, are invisible to this selection process.
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In practice all the classic GMOs demonstrate the results of this gross imprecision, such as Monsanto’s flagship Roundup Ready soybeans and MON810 maize. Since all the stacked varieties merely combine the original single-trait varieties, they incorporate and multiply the genetic chaos of GMOs.
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Conceptually, the GE ideologues seem to feel no cognitive dissonance where they contradict their own “genetic engineering = conventional breeding” lie. The same who make that claim will then flip 180 degrees and claim that conventional breeding, as well as evolution itself, are sloppy and messy while their genetic engineering is a “precision” improvement on these. Here we go beyond simple evolution denial and into the realm of creationist religion. More on that in future posts. This is evolution denial, and is also a de jure lie in that it claims genetic engineering is something separate from conventional breeding, when in fact GE is nothing but a perversion of pre-existing breeding, upon which it depends 100% to produce functional germplasm wherein it can then be inserted.
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So if conventional breeding were in fact “sloppy”, genetic engineering would only be exacerbating this chaos. But in truth evolution proceeds in a relatively orderly way, just as you’d expect from a process honed over billions of years, while these sniveling little brats who just discovered a toy a minute ago are the ones who do nothing but make a frightful mess.
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To repeat, here we see the most extreme and far-ranging aspect of the evolution denial of genetic engineering “science”.
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But we should also note that scientism cultists including these engineers tend to have a dual-track, mutually contradictory view of evolution. At the most exalted level they view neo-Darwinism as meaning a flawless process of unflaggingly perfect adaptations, with all biological phenomena encompassed within this perfection and explainable within this perfection framework. But at the same time they also deride evolution as a messy, wasteful process which needs to be improved by their technological activism. Here we see an example of the cult fundamentalist mindset I described in a previous post, with its exalted “principles” and nihilistic disdain for day-to-day truth, even where it comes to direct contradiction of the acclaimed principle. The genetic determinism dogma, however, can be applied at either level, the ivory tower Darwinian or the gutter GE-creationist.
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To finish with the junk science and propaganda lies of “precision”, the new “gene editing” techniques are no more precise than those of GE 1.0. (Cf. the section, “Is GM technology becoming more precise?”) It’s funny how we now have two contrary lines of propaganda running simultaneously: The original genetic engineering techniques were magically precise, and yet they really weren’t precise but the new techniques are so precise, honest and for true this time. Yet studies have already documented that the CRISPR technique causes mutations in human cells.
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7. “Junk DNA” = junk science. When scientists first ascertained that less than 2% of human DNA is formed into genes and didn’t know what if anything the rest of it does, they indulged their standard strong aversion to saying “I don’t know”. As much as any other religious type, scientists feel a strong need to make things up where they don’t know, and so in this case without further ado they branded the non-gene DNA “junk DNA”. There was no scientific evidence for this dismissal, just the felt need for a placeholder concept which pretends to “know something”, where a true scientist would admit ignorance.
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Since then the evidence has proven that the junk DNA dogma was wrong. Indeed, today the likes of the NIH are rushing to opposite dogmas about the infinite potentiality of this DNA. Meanwhile dead-enders continue to defend the junk science.
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The state of the science implies that the genome does far more than just code for proteins, but no one knows the extent of this action. One thing which this science does prove, to add to all the other proofs, is that genetic engineers have no idea what they’re doing.
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8. There are many more examples of the crackpot “science” and lies which comprise the defense of genetic engineering. We can list just a few of these. These and the foregoing have all been disproven and repose on the trash heap of junk science. Nevertheless to this day they make up the “scientific” part of pro-GMO ideology.
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*The whole is just the sum of the biggest parts. Smaller parts, and any kind of holistic network, don’t matter. (The “NPK mentality”, as Albert Howard called it.)
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*The Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV) promoter functions only in plants, not in animals.
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*A synthetically modified organism (SMO) is identical to the corresponding GMO.
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*Glyphosate affects only the shikimate enzyme pathway, and this is found only in plants, not animals. In truth it affects mammalian CYP and retinoic acid pathways as well as having a general mineral chelation effect. Meanwhile the shikimate pathway is found in the bacteria of the human microbiome, which is a symbiotic part of our digestion and plays an important role in other human physiological systems. I included this with “genetic engineering” because these lies and junk science are part of the rationalization of the Roundup Ready GMO system.
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*Bt becomes toxic only amid the alkalinity of an insect’s digestive tract, not that of the mammalian. Bt toxins cannot enter the human bloodstream.
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*GE material is destroyed in processing/cooking/the gut. It never enters the bloodstream.
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*There’s only linear (“dose-dependent”) effects. There’s no such thing as non-linear effects.
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Genetic engineering claims to be able precisely to insert selected transgenic DNA into an alien genome, where this DNA will seamlessly command the indigenous resources to produce the desired RNA which will produce the desired proteins, which will then cause the desired phenotype manifestations. Meanwhile all the host organism’s native genetic functions except the specific ones being modified or overriden by the transgene will continue in the same way as before. All this is supposed to happen in a precisely calibrated way.
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As we’ve seen, all this is bunk. Since the parts which weren’t premeditated lies from the start were debunked long ago, by now they’re all nothing but willful lies. Persistence Proves Intent.
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What really happens in genetic engineering? The insertion is a brutish, sloppy process creating a genetic mess. Where “successful”, the transgenic DNA will attain the desired effect. But it also causes incalculable chaotic effects, from unpredictable levels of protein expression to the production of completely new proteins and other metabolites to alternative folding of proteins.
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The disruption and mutations caused by transgene insertion may also affect the indigenous processes of the host genome in chaotic ways. This includes its DNA repair mechanisms, its RNA transcription and splicing, its protein formation, and the many ways its proteins interact with one another.
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The organic chaos which follows from the brutal, mutagenic GE process is seen in the profligate waste of the subsequent GM crop development process. Even after identification of the crop tissue which successfully incorporated the transgene, it’s very difficult for the engineers to grow suitable crops from the transgenic material, it’s so genetically damaged and weakened. Then there’s the ongoing genetic and phenotype unpredictability as the seeds are commercialized and the crops deployed across a great range of climates, environments, and agricultural practices. I’ve written before about how GMOs are a rich man’s technology and require optimal conditions in order to have any decent chance of functioning as advertised, i.e. in a way similar to how they functioned under perfect lab and optimal field trial conditions. Any deviation from this optimum, and you have a crapshoot at best.
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This brings us back to the radical difference between genetic engineering, which is inherently reductionist and controlling, especially in the extremely narrow range of genetics it seeks to have dominate all of agriculture (since all commercial GMO varieties, no matter how varied the back-crossing, which as a rule doesn’t have much variation, come from the same original “event” and continue to inbreed the event’s weaknesses, hazards, and chaos), vs. conventional breeding, which in principle as well as in participatory and organic practice is inherently expansive, manifold, diverse, and resilient.
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All this proves how GMOs don’t make sense in principle. Just as the inherently messy and chaotic transgenic insertion process guarantees that even the reductive poison plants which actually “work” will work only in haphazard, unpredictable ways, so pleiotropy rules out the long-promised-never-delivered GMOs designed to produce better agronomic and product quality traits. If genetic engineering can barely cope with producing transgenic effects which involve just one inserted transgene, imagine trying to solve for multi-gene effects.
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Rendering crops poisonous is not an improvement, but literal poison plants (those which exude a systemic insecticide, those which systemically absorb herbicide, and usually both at the same time) are the only kinds genetic engineering can create.
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Genetic engineering does not produce the results it claims. I stress that this is not just because genetic engineering is a stupid, shoddy practice, though it is that, but because the underlying “science” of genetic engineering is wrong and fraudulent in theory.
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In truth, support for GMOs has nothing to do with science, but rather is political and financial. Technological development is always part of politics and political economy. It’s clear that the real world struggle of pro-GMO activism vs. humanity has nothing to do with science but is purely a political and economic struggle, part of the ongoing assault of predatory corporations upon humanity. Indeed, another reason GMOs make no sense in principle, in this case except from the point of view of corporate power and control, is that their history proves that GMOs cannot be capitalized, developed, produced, distributed other than through big corporations. Indeed GMOs were developed in the first place to intensify corporate control and domination. But corporate control is antithetical to productive, food-based, sustainable agriculture. By definition corporate agriculture, producing commodities and poison instead of food, with food then supposed to “trickle down” as a side effect, is incoherent, irrational, and an abdication. GMOs represent the extreme manifestation of corporate agriculture.
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It’s funny how confused and stupid pro-GM activists, including the credentialed “scientists”, are about this. It’s a good measure of their general ignorance, stupidity, and hysterical emotionality that, facing any criticism of GMOs from any angle – economic, political, agronomic – they immediately start shrieking, “anti-science! anti-science!” It seems they’re so dumb they really can’t tell the difference between a scientific criticism and a socioeconomic criticism. But then, they know that the only thing which gives their otherwise obvious lies any obscurantist cover at all is a fraudulent appeal to the authority of their bogus “Science”, so their desperate propaganda need abets their idiocy. Of course, the science is also 100% against them.
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Unfortunately, a complete ignorance of agriculture and farming is the standard state of pro-GMO activists, and the STEM-credentialed ones most of all. Being such a complete ignoramus actually helps one believe in genetic engineering “science”, since this fends off potential doubts about germplasm quality and diversity, the genetics of produce quality, how weeds and insects react to poisons, and the position of agriculture amid ecosystems and the sustainability of fossil fuel dependent industrial monoculture as such. (As far as the socioeconomics, the pro-GM activists mostly understand that the purpose of GMOs is to drive hundreds of millions of people off their land, and the activists consider this to be a good thing.)
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.To summarize this most recent series of posts on agriculture and science.
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1. There’s no such thing as genetic engineering science.
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2. The dogmas of scientism cannot be applied to agriculture at all.
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If by science we mean a coherent theory which has truth value and relates to the real world, then where it comes to industrial agriculture there’s no science involved at all. The real world practice is just brute force empiricism based on seeking power goals, not on any kind of scientific concept, no more than how much a whip-wielding slave driver theorizes about how people might best live in peace with one another.
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Those who call this or GMOs predominantly a “science” matter are regurgitating a corporate propaganda lie, or else naively abetting this lie. Too many even among GM critics let them get away with this lie. Many even gratuitously place themselves in the defensive position of arguing that there’s merely holes or abuses in the corporate science. There’s even the lament that “our” scientists deserve a hearing as well, and indeed among the few independent scientists who have followed where the evidence leads, the main yearning seems to be to maintain standing among the scientific establishment and win credibility there. But I propose that this is all wrong.
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The fact is that corporate “science” has nothing to do with science at all. Corporations and their operatives do not seek scientific fact and do not find it and do not act upon it. They seek corporate profit and power, they base their work upon it, present their “findings” in service to it, and act from there. They are corporate activists, and GMO proponents are pro-GMO activists. The scientific establishment has abdicated completely where it comes to all agriculture and food matters. (Other matters as well, but I’ll leave analysis to those who focus on those matters.) The only science which exists here is the agroecological science which has been steadily in the building since the mid-twentieth century. This science is fully demonstrated and ready to be deployed, wherever the political will exists to do so.
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We scholars, scientists, and agronomic practitioners of the ecological philosophy have won complete victory in the science fight, and we know that the corporate “science” paradigm is nothing but a structure of lies and force. Only we have science at all. So whatever political guidance we deduce from the situation, and whatever any of us wants to accomplish with agriculture and food, anything from reforms to the necessary abolition and transformation, let’s communicate in a way that stops respecting enemy lies and which respects only truth.
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Across the board, in general and at every point of detail, science affirms and supports agroecology and Food Sovereignty and condemns the failures, poison, and destruction wrought by corporate agriculture.

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11 Comments

  1. Thank you Russ. Your efforts with your posts are very much appreciated.
    The US are currently reviewing their GM regulations but I think this has been over looked by many. The comments period has now closed.
    Anyone from anywhere could comment but there appear to be only three comments from outside the US and one of those was from Canada.
    One can sign up for updates.
    http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2015-0036
    The UK currently have two Inquiries running….Big Data and GM Insects. The GM Insects Inquiry may be of interest to US and Spanish citizens and they are more than welcome to comment! Comments will be made public, so if one does not wish their comments to be seen please specify, but they may not be considered.
    The related implications for UK Universities are immense and need to be addressed. Many are no longer venerable centres of learning in some instances….. http://www.genewatch.org/article.shtml?als%5Bcid%5D=566989&als%5Bitemid%5D=567324.
    https://www.testbiotech.org/en/node/1319
    http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/science-and-technology-committee/news-parliament-2015/gm-insects-inquiry/
    http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/science-and-technology-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/big-data/
    Theresa UK (please message me if you want my further thoughts on some of this).

    Comment by Theresa — August 6, 2015 @ 6:56 pm

    • You’re welcome Theresa, and thanks for keeping up with the bureaucratic stuff. I haven’t seen much about this yet, but there’s been an Oxitec/Cornell GM moth release in New York.

      http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/06/11/gm-moth-field-release-plans-near-new-york-cause-outrage/#.VcRWZflVikq

      I haven’t yet had time to research and think out the whole Oxitec thing, but I find it hard to believe anyone’s for real about these GM insects. (Though with the dementia of the scienticians, who knows.) The idea’s even more hare-brained than HT or Bt crops, which are already proven failures. I saw some material indicating the whole thing may be a stock-pumping scam for Oxitec, and of course for GMOs as such, though it’s hard to see how this kind of thing improves the GMO “brand”. It’s not quite “feed the world” or “cure child blindness”.

      I’ll be in touch.

      Comment by Russ — August 7, 2015 @ 3:01 am

  2. […] of the history of poison-based agriculture as war technology refurbished for civilian use. . Genetic engineering and the poisoner ideology are especially narrow, myopic, fraudulent, and destructive manifestations […]

    Pingback by There Is No Science of Big Agriculture | Volatility — August 7, 2015 @ 1:02 am

  3. GM Insects – Helen Wallace – I am not sure when she wrote the below and what the current situation is.
    http://www.genewatch.org/article.shtml?als%5Bcid%5D=566989&als%5Bitemid%5D=567324
    Oxford University is an investor in Oxitec, which it expects to generate income for it in the future. The company also owes GBP2.25 million to a multi-millionaire venture capital investor in Boston, which it is due to pay back by 2013. The company is losing GBP1.7 million a year and its business plan requires it to commercialise its products and charge ongoing fees for continual releases of the GM mosquitoes, which are intended to reduce the transmission of the dengue virus. Former science minister Lord Drayson and former Royal Society President Lord May both acted as advisors to investors in the company.

    In reply to……. It’s not quite “feed the world” or “cure child blindness”…….
    The problem is that the UK Government may push the “perceived” need for GM insects. We need some counter arguments submitted urgently to the Inquiry. The UK Government may say that we need GM insects to stop malaria etc. If there is a way to twist this one the UK Government will do it, unless they are made to open their eyes. This won’t just go away, people need to get involved.
    Inquiry wording:
    “Could genetically modified (GM) insects be used to control the spread of human disease? Would farmers benefit if insects were modified in order to reduce crop pests?”

    Pay particular attention to the last bullet point. Inquiry wording:
    Questions

    Questions which the inquiry will aim to cover include:

    * Which human diseases, across the world, could be addressed through GM insect technology?
    * What are the possible livestock and agricultural crop applications of GM insects across the world? Are there any potential applications of relevance to UK agriculture?
    * Do the current EU and UK genetically modified organisms (GMOs) regulatory frameworks work for GM Insects?
    * How can the gap between regulatory approaches and public concerns over GMOs be addressed?

    Chairman’s comment

    Chair of the Committee, Lord Selborne, said:

    “The development of GM insects is an emerging area of bioscience that presents a host of questions as well as opportunities. Concerns about lasting effects on our ecosystems and rapid spread must be considered alongside the potential opportunities for disease control and agricultural pest management.

    “The policy implications of developing GM insect technologies include how the UK actively funds research, how the current regulations for genetically modified organisms can be applied, and what the potential economic benefits might be from this industry.

    “What we hope to do with this inquiry is to probe some of these areas, and establish a clearer picture for the scientific community as well as the public. I welcome the contribution of written evidence in order that we can carry out the most thorough and informative inquiry possible.”

    http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/science-and-technology-committee/news-parliament-2015/gm-insects-inquiry/

    Comment by Theresa — August 7, 2015 @ 4:39 am

    • Thanks for that information, Theresa. That’s similar to what I’ve seen before. My memory’s rusty, but I think they’ve been in contact with the USDA and/or FDA explicitly about their financial difficulties, wanting the regulators to take that into account. That would likely get a positive response, as USDA, FDA, and EPA cadres have often explicitly declared that they saw their mission as to economically assist the industry.

      I know the UK government will push as hard and fast as it can to propagandize for GMOs as such, including trumping up bogus rationales for the “need” for GM insects. I do wonder if this might not be another case of overreaching, though. The pro-GM forces have done it before, plenty of times.

      To the extent that the people have vague but intense fears focusing on GMOs, I think the prospect of the insects all around you being GM would heighten those fears if the message was handled well. I mentioned golden rice because that whole propaganda hoax was developed precisely to make GMOs seem more friendly, less menacing. Similarly, Monsanto started with Bt cotton in India in part because as an allegedly non-food crop, they expected it to generate less resistance against itself than if they’d tried to lead with Bt brinjal. The idea’s always to get the camel’s nose in the tent. So it’s eventually supposed to be for golden rice and drought-resistant corn and other scams.

      Insects, by contrast, are spooky in the first place, and I suspect that if someone’s anxious being bitten by a mosquito, telling them the mosquito biting them is genetically modified isn’t likely to ease that anxiety. So it is for all GM bugs.

      On a more purely rational level, we already know GM insects don’t work. The Oxitec mosquitoes have failed against dengue in all the places they were field released. There’s reason to think that in the long run each such insect, even if it does have a brief “desirable” effect, will in the longer run make whatever pest or disease problem worse, just as the HT and Bt genres are already proven to do.

      So we have at least two strong lines of counterattack. That the whole thing is nothing but corporate welfare with a reckless disregard for public health and the environment is another.

      I agree completely that any prospect of thwarting this project, or any other, and GMOs as a whole, depends 100% on the people being willing to fight, and it’s the people to whom we writers and organizers on this must address ourselves.

      Comment by Russ — August 7, 2015 @ 6:20 am

  4. […] source for the 19th century history is Philip Pauly’s Controlling Life. . This proposition is factually false, and in most cases we can be assured that those making this claim do so out of ignorance or […]

    Pingback by The Historical Context of the “Genetic Engineering = Conventional Breeding” Lie | Volatility — September 30, 2015 @ 12:14 pm

  5. […] there reblogged at several other prominent sites. #5 was another important 2015 anti-poison piece, “There Is No Science of Genetic Engineering. . The three anti-scientism pieces are part of this site’s ongoing project to bring about the […]

    Pingback by The 2015 Blogging Year, and An American Revolution Reprise | Volatility — December 31, 2015 @ 6:43 am

  6. […] not defending it. Suffused pesticide is also one of the primary refutations of the FDA’s “substantial equivalence” religious dogma.] . In the same way that the EPA mechanically raises the allowed poison residue levels at the […]

    Pingback by The EPA and Glyphosate | Volatility — January 11, 2016 @ 8:35 am


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