Cloned Beef, Genetic Engineering & GMOs

I was disturbed to learn, last year, that cloned meat had entered the human food-chain “accidentally”. This BBC news article documents the event :http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10859866

According to this article, cloned beef offspring have entered the USA market as well: http://www.naturalnews.com/023718_food_beef_cloned.html

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I discussed this situation with interested parties, laymen and scientists on the forum website SciForums. You can access the discussion here: http://www.sciforums.com/showthread.php?t=105479

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Top scientists have been at pains to put across thier point of view that the meat, and therefore the technology is safe. These links are press releases where the top food scientists in the UK make thier claims:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/8160823/Cloned-meat-and-milk-is-safe-says-Food-Standards-Agency.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11844141

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I am not happy that this GM meat has been allowed onto the market with absolutely no safeguards in regard to consumers who thought they were buying “natural” meat. It also begs the question, what other GM products have been allowed to fall into the hands of consumers without thier consent or knowledge? At the very least, this bad PR for the industry which isn’t trusted by the public as it is. At worst, this “accidental” release smacks of an unofficial, unauthorised public experiment. In my view, nobody can tell the long-term effects of consuming this meat, because the technology simply hasn’t been around for long enough yet to tell.
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Some of us may well still remember John Gummer force-feeding his young daughter a beef-burger during the BSE crisis, claiming that this too was perfectly safe. History shows us that this was, in fact, anything but true. It was a cynical and unbelievably crass ploy to try and save the beef industry at the expense of the public.

Edit:

More and more details about cloned meat products entering the human food-chain in the UK keep coming to light: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=4&sqi=2&ved=0CC4QFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.guardian.co.uk%2Fuk%2F2010%2Faug%2F04%2Fclone-cows-unknown-food-standards&ei=g3uSTc_ABtGyhAfZrdGGDw&usg=AFQjCNGZ1sfFQVB9abUezcaidcFYDKqxmg&sig2=QmpQSmJQR59IjTGXDgMcQw

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Disturbing news for the UK as cloned food to be sold without safeguards or labelling: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Cloned_Meat_and_Milk_Coming.php

Now how is someone like me going to be able to choose how to avoid it. It is my basic right to eat or not eat whatever I choose to. But this right is being denied to us all.

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GM CROPS

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I am not totally against the technology however. The Bill and Melinda’s foundation and other researchers have developed GM Cassava for use in Africa and Asia. There are problems with a virus in the natural varieties, and the new varieties have bigger tubers, less natural cyanide in them and disease resistence.

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 These articles document the changes being made: http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CB8QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gmwatch.org%2Fgm-myths%2F11156-gm-cassava-qour-only-hopeq&ei=d2ZxTZneH5K5hAfI5eAv&usg=AFQjCNF6L4HVE4rfMJUyC8E9p1anbgCdEQ
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http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=3&sqi=2&ved=0CCwQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.scidev.net%2Fen%2Fnews%2Fgm-cassava-has-super-size-roots.html&ei=d2ZxTZneH5K5hAfI5eAv&usg=AFQjCNGYaQKhG_hQzdYCdxhC3tzs1CvWgw
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http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=4&sqi=2&ved=0CDYQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.scidev.net%2Fen%2Fnews%2Fresearchers-boost-protein-content-of-gm-cassava-1.html&ei=d2ZxTZneH5K5hAfI5eAv&usg=AFQjCNFCa_98mXTcnHRgOxwyFSCKkuEgZA

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My concern is that the people this technologies are targeting are made aware this is a new technology. There may be implications for health in the longer term, and for the future of wild varieties. What is going to happen if the population increases due to these new varieties, only to have to revert to indiginous varieties at a later date? These technologies do fail, and do have to be recalled from time to time. Here are some examples: http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CBYQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.digitaljournal.com%2Farticle%2F270101&ei=L2lxTY-HN9KHhQec3dFT&usg=AFQjCNH4wVhZvXkG8a4C1QJNyrPZf3bwtg
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http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=4&sqi=2&ved=0CCsQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.blacklistednews.com%2Fview.asp%3FID%3D3032&ei=L2lxTY-HN9KHhQec3dFT&usg=AFQjCNHX-SwZxtPyt9ZVWBLxgP2Eqtbtfw

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http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=9&sqi=2&ved=0CFIQFjAI&url=https%3A%2F%2Ffoodfreedom.wordpress.com%2Ftag%2Fgm-crop-failure%2F&ei=sGlxTb-4CNGbhQflyrhT&usg=AFQjCNFZMAr8UnAsoxf3UodgU3Sn5Ybm0A

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Clearly, there is some way to go before these crops can be called economically, if not biologically safe. And I have friends argueing that they don’t believe this technology should even be labelled when it goes in our food! I take the position that if everything else that goes into our food so we can make informed choises, GM additives should be labelled too. I think my friends fear that if the products are labelled as GM, then people won’t buy them. This indicates to me that the scientists have not won over the public to thier cause. That not labelling GM products smacks of evisiveness and the introduction of GM products into our diets by stealth. This does nothing for producer / consumer relations. I do not think the public have to accept anything the scientists say on face value, but it is for the scientists to demonstrate that thier technology is a) safe, and B) is necessary.

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Edit_1

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With BT maize being earmarked for use in Africa where pests destroy up to 40% of the potential harvest, there are potential problems. According to this article, http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2004/feb/27/gm.science, the GM viruses used to insert genes into the host material are causing illnesses in residents living close to GM crops. I see the case for using GM crops in places hit by viruses and pests that destroy crops, but if the crops themselves make people ill then it defeats the whole programme. Not only this, but it damages the reputations of GM producers, making it harder for them to convince the public thier products are safe.

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With South Africa dumping GM maize (http://mg.co.za/article/2010-05-15-sa-dumping-gm-maize-on-africa) on the African markets, individual countries are finding thier guidelines regarding GM products are being circumvented. What’s more, the people are being denied thier right to choose whether or not they want to consume GM foods at all.

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It’s worth remembering that Monsanto, the most proactive GM industrialists were also responsible for Agent Orange and DDT. They have no moral standing and are motivated only by profit. They even sue farmers for patent violations when thier crops infect natural ones. They are one of the most agressively letigeous GM companies there is. There are concerns that GM Soya is so prevalent now that natural stocks are severely threatened.

Join the debate. http://www.sciforums.com/showthread.php?t=106836

Update: 6/4/2011

I have concerns not only of the reduction of natural biodiversity, the reduction of natural soya in the US to virtually the point of extinction I think is evidence enough of that; Not even of the lack of labelling which was poor, and is not improving; Not even the lack of transparency of (in my opinion) untrustworthy pharma companies, but one of the known characteristics of existing organisms. Horizontal Transfer ~ and the modified viruses specifically designed to make their transition into a foreign genome not just possible but desirable.

This is called the Horizontal transfer of GM nuclear material into a genome. This is no miracle of science, and is not in any scientific doubt.
It is the mechanism whereby one eucaryoyic cell passes on drug resistence to another by incorperating the dna of a resistant one into its own genome.
It is believed GM dna can be passed through the gut wall either whole or in part, and thence into the bloodstream exactly the same way. There is a great deal of documentary evidence of this process, this is a link describing the term: http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Hor…_gene_transfer
I for one don’t want any of my cells reprogrammed to produce BT toxin or any of the redundant unknown sequences known to exist which could be fungal, bacterial or viral, fish, plant or animal.
The bacteria in the gut are particularly well adapted and readily pass on drug resistance. They readily express relavant DNA so that it can be adopted by any other bacteria, pass through cell walls or be adopted by a variety of methods.
I find it extroadinary that people don’t know this.

This is a fun little presentation of how it’s usually done: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtM8C…yer_detailpage
Or more simply,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wa16…yer_detailpage

As far as I know, nobody has tested positive for BT toxin, but then, nobody’s testing for it as far as I know. BT toxin being commonly implanted into cerials and other plants to impart pest resistance.
Studies showed that during 10 years of crop use BT was responsible for the reduction of 35.6million kg of insecticide, no mean feat. Though some species such as the diamondback moth have already gotten immune to it. ~ wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacillus_thuringiensis They also cite trials possibly linking BT to liver damage in rats, and infertility in mice though the mechanism by which this happens was not known.

But GM companies could easily allay such fears as recombinant virus dna such as BT toxin, plasmid dna, stray dna and non-coded (unknown) dna being expressed by implementing a few relatively easy steps to the vector dna encoding pathway as put forward in this extract:

“To reduce HGT, non-viral promoters could be used, transgene sizes reduced, replication origins removed, protein expression prevented and gene sequences disabled.

These improvements would probably not impact on transgene effectiveness.
By not requiring applicants to incorporate these safety features, or to justify why they have not done so, regulators are exposing third parties to unnecessary risks.”

http://www.econexus.info/publication/gm-gene-flow-b

The specific level of risk cannot be known until GMOs containing pathogenic dna actually interact with humans, food crops, domesticated animals and/or wildlife. Once released, a crop has to be entirely destroyed in the event of recall. This alone might not prevent transgenic pollen cross breeding with native varieties, or seeds dispersed by birds or rodents, or their infection via HT transmisson. And if it got into Humans, well, it would be too late by then.
So, while I’m not saying there is a specific risk beyond BT toxin that I’m looking at at this time, there is every reason to be cautious in my view.

Non-specific dna in cloned animals has led to inappropriate expression of proteins, particularly in animals bred to produce medicines in their milk resulting in a high mortality rate of around 65% to 95%. Whilst this does not directly affect humans, it shows that non-specific gene expression can have harmful effects not previously accounted for.
In my view it is something biotech companies could eliminate from transgenic viruses by eliminating non-specific parts of code or “junk code” as it’s often called. This link expands on the problem: http://www.gm.org/gm-organisms/tiny-…-consequences/

Death rates in cloned sheep higher/lower
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/al…p-1139599.html
http://www.gene.ch/gentech/2001/Nov/msg00097.html

Of course this is all aside from all of the many claimed deaths and diseases of cloned animals or animals that have just grazed on BT cotton or been fed GM foodstuffs, but I’m just thinking about consequences for humans at the moment. If we’re going to have this stuff snuck into our food, as looks likely, I reckon I’ll just let those that want to eat it do so, and stick to my local farm produce. And anyway, I know it’s fresh and not been given a gene to act as an artificial preservative such as in the Flavr Savr tomatoes. I wonder what ever happened to them? I’ve not thought of those in years.

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Here is a link I’ve found that documents illegal releases of GMOs into the environment, and cases of GM cross-breeds turning up. These are often called GM superweeds due to being resistent to weedkiller. http://www.gmcontaminationregister.org/

Thankyou for your comments. they mean a lot to me and I really appreciate them.

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5 responses to “Cloned Beef, Genetic Engineering & GMOs

  1. Like you, I am not happy about GM food either. It will be YEARS, perhaps even generations, before we know that GM food is “safe”.

    Keep spreading the message!

    • I think it’s here to stay, but I think there need to be safeguards. The scientific community seems to think the public needs to educate themselves, and maybe they do. But the scientists have to get to grips with the public and explain to them what they’re doing or it will always be viewed with suspicion.

  2. This is a good blog. Keep up all the work. I too love blogging and expressing my opinions

  3. This is very inspiring work you have created for us. Some people need to know that these things can ensue to anyone. You have shown me a better view now.

  4. Hey…
    From what I read while documenting in the marathon thread from hell part deux about this issue @ sciforums, the flavr savr tomato was one of the most clearly toxic GM foods in rat trials.
    Plus? apparently tasted horrible when consumers tried it.
    Nobody uses it anymore.

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