CRISPR- Genetically Editing Food, Animals and People-

Below is a fairly in depth article regarding this new technology that the USDA and certainly, the FDA will (and have) done nothing about in the regulatory arena. The USDA recently approved CRISPR edited mushrooms that are genetically altered to reduce browning. They don’t require any special studies or limitations because they are just doing in a few days what, according to other sources, might take a thousand years in nature.

CRISPR Is Going To Revolutionize Our Food System—And Start A New War Over GMOs

The gene-editing tool could create drought-resistant grain or allergy-free peanuts. Will a society on edge about genetically modified food embrace this newest innovation?

Adele Peters 03.15.16 6:00 AM

In five years, there might be a little CRISPR-edited corn in your breakfast cereal or CRISPR-edited wheat in your pasta. CRISPR’d tomatoes and CRISPR’d pork might follow. There’s already a little CRISPR in your yogurt.

It’s not hyperbolic to say that CRISPR-Cas9—new technology that makes it possible to quickly and easily edit DNA—is changing the future of food. The method could eventually be used to tweak almost anything we eat, selecting traits that can make agriculture more environmentally sustainable and productive, or the resulting food healthier.

A Molecular Scalpel

The technology is based on a natural process. Many bacteria have a hidden talent: In order to protect themselves from viruses, they cut the virus’s DNA. First, they save a fragment of an invading virus’s DNA in a pattern known as CRISPR (short for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” which describes how the segment looks). If the virus comes back, the bacteria can recognize and hone in on it. Then it uses an enzyme called Cas9 to make a cut in the DNA, disabling the virus.

A few years ago, researchers figured out how to use the same method to edit any kind of DNA. By using guide RNA—the same type of molecule that bacteria use to find and fight a virus, but that can also easily be made in the lab from DNA in a few steps—scientists realized that they could target any spot in the genome of a plant or animal and make a deletion or paste something else in.

“I think a good analogy is a molecular scalpel,” says Jennifer Doudna, the University of California-Berkeley professor who was first to publish a paper about using CRISPR for gene editing in 2012 (Doudna and her colleagues are currently embroiled in a bitter legal battle with MIT researchers over the patent for the technology). “It’s a way that scientists can make very precise changes in the DNA and cells of organisms—down to the level of a single letter in the DNA code out of 3 billion base pairs in the human genome.”
“If editing a single gene might have taken years with older techniques, now it can happen in a matter of days with a single grad student.”

If editing a single gene might have taken weeks, months, or even years with older techniques, now it can happen in a matter of days with a single grad student. Old techniques—such as using a “gene gun” to shoot DNA into plant cells to make something like the earliest GMO soybeans—took far longer to reach a desired result; researchers would have to grow plants to see which ones happened to end up with the traits they wanted. More recent gene-editing tools, such as TALENs and zinc fingers, made it possible to directly target a particular gene for the first time but are more time-consuming than CRISPR in their design and construction.

CRISPR is comparatively easy, because all it requires is ordering some products that are widely available and synthesizing RNA, a simple process in a lab. “This is what I call the democratization of gene editing,” says Rodolphe Barrangou, one of the first researchers to realize how bacteria were naturally using CRISPR. “There were gene-editing technologies that existed before . . . but it was difficult, it was expensive, it was time-consuming, it wasn’t trivial. What CRISPR really has done is enable that gene-editing revolution that we’re witnessing.”

Since the beginning of last year, researchers have published more than 16,000 studies using CRISPR: editing mouse genes to repair genetic disease, designing better biofuels, figuring out which genes are responsible for certain traits and illnesses, and even—controversially—genetically editing human embryos.

But put the deep moral quandaries about human gene editing aside for a minute. In the world of farming, researchers are using CRISPR to work on some foods that might have been too complicated or expensive to genetically engineer in the past, along with the bigger crops that already have GMO versions.
A New Solution For Our Food Supply

At DuPont, researchers are working on CRISPR/Cas9-edited versions of commodity crops such as corn, soybeans, canola, rice, and wheat, which they expect to have on the market in 5 to 10 years. The plants have new traits like drought resistance and higher yields—both critical features for farmers trying to deal with a changing climate and the fact that the world population is growing faster than our food supply.
“The plants have new traits like drought resistance and higher yields—both critical features for farmers trying to deal with a changing climate.”

“When you think about the fact that your average biotech crop takes 10 to 17 years, that’s a really remarkable speed compared to where the market is today,” says Rachel Haurwitz, cofounder of Berkeley-based Caribou Biosciences, which partnered with DuPont to provide Caribou’s version of CRISPR. “I find that really, really exciting.”

The technique can also be used to remove allergens in peanuts, or make food more nutritious, all while using genes that naturally occur in the plant.

It might also save the modern banana. The Cavendish banana, the only type of banana sold in most grocery stores—because it is grown around the world as a monoculture crop—is on the verge of extinction because of a fungal disease. While some researchers are racing to test less-common varieties of bananas to try to find an alternative, a Korean researcher hopes to use CRISPR to snip out the receptor that the fungus uses, so it would no longer have an effect.

CRISPR may also keep livestock healthier without relying on antibiotics, which are overused in animals and leading to antibiotic resistance that is killing humans. “You can actually harness CRISPR systems as antimicrobials, and they provide a great alternative to classic antibiotics,” says Barrangou. “You can program them to selectively target one or more organisms of interest. Whereas most classical antibiotics are very broad-spectrum—when you consume them they wipe out the good guys and the bad guys indiscriminately—CRISPR is opening new doors for programmable antibiotics whereby you could selectively eradicate a pathogenic species.”

Some researchers are also experimenting with directly editing livestock genes to help protect animals from disease. One pig disease costs farmers $600 million a year; in 2015, researchers created a gene-edited version of pigs that couldn’t catch the illness. Twenty percent of all animals raised for food are lost to disease, which is a massive sustainability problem as well as a cause of animal suffering. Gene editing could potentially help change that in a way that traditional breeding hasn’t been able to.

Other meat might be gene edited to be healthier. The same Korean researchers working on the Cavendish banana have also created a variety of pig that is extra-muscly, so it can produce leaner cuts of pork. “We could do this through breeding,” lead researcher Jin-Soo Kim, of Seoul National University, told Nature. “But then it would take decades.”

CRISPR can also be used in its natural form—and it already is. When Barrangou first began studying CRISPR in bacteria, he realized that it could be harnessed to help prevent food waste in dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. It’s not uncommon in the dairy industry for viruses to attack the cultures that are used for fermentation, and that can lead to the loss of thousands or even millions of gallons of milk in a single instance. By selecting variants of the cultures that naturally get vaccinated against viruses, the industry can prevent that from happening.

“If people eat yogurt and people eat cheese, there’s a 50% chance, give or take, that people have been consuming dairy products that were manufactured using CRISPR-enhanced bacteria,” he says. The industry has used the natural form of CRISPR for more than a decade. It can also be used in other fermentation processes, such as pickling or making kimchi, soy sauce, or wine.

There’s potential for CRISPR to be used much more widely. But it isn’t clear yet if the technology can avoid the Monsanto problem—the public distaste for eating anything genetically edited. Public support for GMO food is still very low, despite the fact that the majority of scientists believe it’s safe. In a 2015 survey, most Americans said that genetically engineered food should be labeled—and that they probably wouldn’t buy it. More than half of those surveyed said they think it’s unsafe.

It’s possible CRISPR-edited food might not be seen the same way. In some cases—when the technology is simply used to delete a gene in a plant, rather than adding in anything from another species—the USDA doesn’t consider CRISPR’d food a GMO. The plant looks genetically identical to something that could have been created through cross-breeding or evolution.

Even adding a gene could sometimes end up being the same as a traditionally bred crop. “I think it’s exciting to think, for example, about some of the gene variants that are known to exist in wild strains of particular crops of interest, and the ability to use CRISPR to insert those naturally occurring wild variants into elite crops in a very rapid way, in a very precise way,” says Haurwitz. “It gets you the same product as if you had spent years and years breeding the wild strain with your commercial strain. At the end of the day, it’s the very same product, but it could get to consumers substantially faster by using CRISPR.”

Cibus, a San Diego-based startup making CRISPR-edited flax, position their products as a non-GMO food. “DNA ‘spelling changes’ occur naturally in all plants and are the basis behind the diversity we see in plants as we walk in our local parks or in the forest,” says Greg Gocal, senior vice president of research and development at Cibus. “During domestication events that selected the world’s crop plants, genetic diversity was lost. Breeders have been working for decades to augment crop diversity using mutation breeding. However, this is random. . . . Non-transgenic breeding, which includes technologies such as precision gene editing, can also restore lost genetic diversity.”

Even in Europe, where regulation has been stricter, there are early indications that CRISPR’d foods may not be regulated. In Sweden, authorities recently said that CRISPR-edited plants (as long as they don’t contain foreign DNA) shouldn’t be defined as GMOs under EU legislation.

EU law says that it must be possible to detect a GMO food—and because CRISPR-edited foods are identical to those that are not GMOs, they can’t be detected. It also says that the changes that occur must not be more “uncertain” than something that could occur with techniques like breeding. “The changes are identical to those that could occur with techniques that are not considered to produce GMOs,” says Stefan Jansson, head of the department of plant physiology at Umeå University.
“”Since most politicians consider it to be political suicide to express their opinions about GMOs, maybe they now dare to stand up.””

While the Swedish ruling could be overturned by the EU Commission, Jansson believes there’s increasing support for biotech food. “It is clear that there are very many, in addition to us in the scientific community, who are deeply concerned that the lack of access to efficient plant breeding is a serious threat to the possibilities to make food production sustainable,” he says. “Since most politicians consider it to be political suicide to express their opinions about GMOs, maybe they now dare to stand up.”

In an analysis of the psychology behind why people dislike GMOs, researchers pointed to transgenesis—the mixing of species—as one problem. People tend to see inserting a fish gene into a tomato as fundamentally unnatural. But if CRISPR is used to insert genes from the same plant (or just to take a gene away), it’s possible that might shift attitudes.

It’s also possible that it won’t. “Given the fact that CRISPR can be viewed as tampering with a organism’s essence, I’m afraid that biotechnologists might face an opposition similar to the GMO case,” says Stefaan Blancke, co-author of the paper on the psychology of GMO opposition.

“There probably are some critics who are going to be more accepting because of CRISPR,” says Paul Thompson, a bioethicist and professor at Michigan State University. “But the vast majority are focused on broader philosophical issues. . . . You’ve got this community of critics who in some respects don’t really care that much about what the details are. There’s been this kind of creation of a lot of—I don’t want to be dismissive, but I’ll use the word mythology—about GMOs. And I’m constantly talking to people that I like and respect in the sustainable agriculture community who are just quite, at least from my perspective, misinformed about what GMOs actually are and what they actually do.”

One of the few scientists to speak out about GMOs argues that CRISPR is fundamentally no different than earlier technology, and that CRISPR-edited foods should be regulated before they go on the market. “Is it more exact than the use of a gene gun, where it’s literally scattershot? Sure,” says Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumers Union, the organization that publishes Consumer Reports. “It’s more exact, but there can still be off-target effects.”
“”We’ve never been against the use of any technology. We just think that before these technologies come out on the market—whether it’s CRISPR or anything else—there should be required safety assessments.””

Hansen points to the fact that Doudna and other researchers have called for caution in the use of CRISPR in humans—because of potential unknowns—and thinks that the same caution should be applied to food. “We’ve never been against the use of any technology,” he says. “We just think that before these technologies come out on the market—whether it’s CRISPR or anything else—there should be required safety assessments, and those crops should be labeled.”

For now, however, the technology is moving ahead, and most researchers think that’s a good thing. “I think there’s real potential from a technology perspective,” says Haurwitz. “But I think that potential can only be realized if we the industry do a good job of communicating to the rest of the world how beneficial it will be for growers, for consumers . . . for everyone involved in the food value chain.”

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How Many Reasons Do You Need to Avoid Soy?

This is a great article from Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist. Please read it and share with all of your friends. The fact that so many illnesses/syndromes have proliferated since GMO’s were allowed to masquerade as food is enough to give anyone with observational skills serious pause.

 

With all the loads of scientific data available that soy is not a healthy part of anyone’s diet, it shocks me how many folks are still on the “soy is good for you” bandwagon – even people who should know better like your doctor!

I just got an email from a reader the other day who had been to multiple doctors, both holistic and conventional, and all but one of them were telling her that plenty of soy in her diet would help her menopause symptoms.

Be careful folks.  It’s dangerous out there! You really need to do your research and be on your toes at all times when it comes to nutritional advice even from someone in a white coat!

For those of you who just sat down because you are so taken aback by the notion that soy is not actually the healthfood you thought it was, here are 170 scientific reasons to back up this assertion.

 

Please note that fermented soy in small, condimental amounts as practiced in traditional Asian cultures is fine for those who have healthy thyroid function.  Only miso, tempeh, natto and soy sauce (IF traditionally brewed) fall under this category.  In addition, if you want to sprinkle a few edamame on your salad or have a few small cubes of tofu in your miso soup from time to time, that is fine too.   Just don’t make it a regular part of your diet!

If you have any sort of thyroid issues going on, however, it is really the best policy to avoid all soy all the time as soy is a potent goitrogen (thyroid suppressor) even if fermented.

Soy Wake Up Call #1

A 1991 study found that eating only 2 TBL/day of roasted and pickled soybeans for 3 months to healthy adults who were receiving adequate iodine in their diet caused thyroid suppression with symptoms of malaise, constipation, sleepiness, and goiters (Nippon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi 1991, 767: 622-629)!

Still think munching on edamame instead of popcorn is a healthy habit?

Soy Wake Up Call #2

Six premenopausal women with normal menstrual cycles were given 45 mg of soy isoflavones per day.  This is equivalent to only 1-2 cups of soy milk or 1/2 cup of soy flour!   After only one month, all of the women experienced delayed menstruation with the effects similar to tamoxifen, the anti-estrogen drug given to women with breast cancer (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1994 Sep;60(3):333-340).

Soy Wake Up Call #3

Dietary estrogens in the form of soy foods were found to have the potential to disrupt the endocrine system with the effects in women similar to taking the breast cancer drug tamoxifen (Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 1995 Jan;208(1):51-9).

Soy Wake Up Call #4

Estrogens consumed in the diet at low concentrations were found to stimulate breast cells much like DDT to increase enzymatic activity which leads to breast cancer (Environmental Health Perspectives 1997 Apr;105 (Suppl 3):633-636).

Soy Wake Up Call #5

The soy isoflavones genistein and daidzein appear to stimulate existing breast cancer growth indicating risk in consuming soy products if a woman has breast cancer. (Annals of Pharmacotherapy 2001 Sep;35(9):118-21).

Soy Wake Up Call #6

Direct evidence that soy isoflavones genistein and daidzein suppress the pituitary-thyroid axis in middle-aged rats fed 10 mg soy isoflavones per kilo after only 3 weeks as compared with rats eating regular rat chow (Experimental Biology and Medicine 2010 May;235(5):590-8).

Soy Wake Up Call #7

Don’t eat soy when you are pregnant ladies!  Scientific research has shown that the developing male fetus which is exposed to soy phytoestrogens may suffer from higher susceptibility to prostate cancer later in life (Prostate 1994;24(2):67-78).

Soy Wake Up Call #8

Keep that soy away from your daughters!   Dietary genistein (soy phytoestrogen) in developing female rats had the effect of significantly accelerated puberty (Toxicol Sci 1999 Oct;51(2):236-44).

Soy Wake Up Call #9

Hey guys! Soy protein powder strips your masculinity!  A study of 12 men aged 18 years and older experienced a 19% drop in serum testosterone in only 28 days when supplemented with 56 grams of soy protein powder over that same time period (Prev 2007;16:829–33).

Soy Wake Up Call #10

Do NOT feed soy formula to your babies!  Female newborns who are orally exposed to genisin, the glycosylated form of genistein (soy phytoestrogen) experienced harm to the reproductive system in the form of “delayed vaginal opening… abnormal estrous cycles, decreased fertility, and delayed parturition.” (Environmental Health Perspective 2009 Dec;117(12):1883-9).

Convinced yet?   I don’t know about you, but ten reasons is plenty for me!   Still interested to see the remaining 160 reasons?  My friend Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of the must read The Whole Soy Story, has compiled the rest of the list for you if you click here.

GMO Babies???

There is so much going on in the realm of GMO’s right now that one has a difficult time keeping up with it! Monsanto and Syngenta are experiencing deservedly difficult times being fined and otherwise kicked in the wallet by nation after nation. Syngenta’s cover up of it’s killer BT corn illuminates the level of dishonesty that these corporations are will stoop to just to make more corporate profits off their life destroying mutant seeds.

Meanwhile, Monsanto is being denied royalties in Brazil, which has been a stronghold for the GM soy and corn, and they are also facing the fact that nature is finding a way to kill their corn by developing BT resistant corn borers that are happily destroying whatever crops are left to drought stricken farmers who planted their franken-food.
Then we get news that a New Jersey company has actually altered the human germline and there are now thirty babies who have two mothers and one father. here is excerpt from the UK article breaking this news:

The world’s first genetically modified humans have been created, it was revealed last night.

The disclosure that 30 healthy babies were born after a series of experiments in the United States provoked another furious debate about ethics.

So far, two of the babies have been tested and have been found to contain genes from three ‘parents’.

Fifteen of the children were born in the past three years as a result of one experimental programme at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science of St Barnabas in New Jersey.

The babies were born to women who had problems conceiving. Extra genes from a female donor were inserted into their eggs before they were fertilised in an attempt to enable them to conceive.

Genetic fingerprint tests on two one-year- old children confirm that they have inherited DNA from three adults –two women and one man.

The fact that the children have inherited the extra genes and incorporated them into their ‘germline’ means that they will, in turn, be able to pass them on to their own offspring.

Altering the human germline – in effect tinkering with the very make-up of our species – is a technique shunned by the vast majority of the world’s scientists.

Geneticists fear that one day this method could be used to create new races of humans with extra, desired characteristics such as strength or high intelligence.

Writing in the journal Human Reproduction, the researchers, led by fertility pioneer Professor Jacques Cohen, say that this ‘is the first case of human germline genetic modification resulting in normal healthy children’.

You can read more about that here.

Years ago, I reported on the addition of human genes to cattle in an attempt to make cows milk better for lactose intolerant, specifically infants. One might argue that this new alteration of the human gene isn’t actually clinical genetic modification because they are still using actual human gene information, but I would submit that changing the genetic code in any way is genetic modification.

This news is going to shed an entirely different light on “Heather Has Two Mommies”. It seems there is no level too low for some of these scientists to reach. Just because science CAN do something certainly doesn’t mean that it should.