By Vicki Batts
Is anyone surprised that Monsanto is moving on from “conventional” genetically modified organisms to gene editing? It seems that the world’s most evil corporation is convinced that the new gene editing technology that’s been taking the globe by storm will somehow ease consumer concerns about eating GMOs.
Whether or not the difference between the two is substantial enough to assuage the many fundamental issues that surround GMO seeds, which extend far beyond just concerns about the effects of consumption, has yet to be seen. Personally, this writer feels that the alleged differences between “genetically modified” and “gene-edited” are not going to be very moving.
Dr. Robert Fraley, Monsanto’s chief technology officer, recently told Fox Business, “I see gene editing very differently [than GMOs] because it’s being used today broadly by pharmaceutical, agricultural companies, universities and hundreds of startup companies — and I think there is broad support for this science and I think that is going to make a big difference.”
Supposedly, the key difference between GMOs and “gene-edited crops” is that while GMOs rely on genes from different species (resulting in transgenic organisms), these gene-edited versions will be “generated through precise editing of an organism’s native genome,” as Business Insider explains.
Monsanto has recently announced that they would be investing heavily into new gene editing technology, known as CRISPR/Cas-9, which is a gene editing technique that essentially allows scientists to select, snip and replace certain genetic components. It’s essentially a genetic “find and replace” tool — but there are many questions about its safety.
This technology purportedly allows scientists to manipulate a plant’s DNA without having to pull foreign DNA from other species, like current GMOs. However, you may recall that this same CRISPR-Cas9 technology was used to create human-pig embryos — which are, obviously, transgenic organisms.
The use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology in crops, therefore, would not implicitly guarantee that any creations derived from it would be free of foreign DNA. The potential for transgenic creations is absolutely still quite real.