Conflating Insulin & Chymosin (in Cheese) to Plant GMO is Pseudoscience
Few things are quite as Woo-licious as conflating completely unrelated things.
We all know Monsanto’s Uncle Robb loves him some chicanery, but when Uncle Robb says different things are the same, the faithful media lapdogs repeat the myth no matter how ludicrous it is.
On account of this, Chipotle was excoriated and dubbed anti-science, ostensibly because the restaurant chain failed to disclose the use of genetically engineered chymosin- an enzyme used to curdle milk in cheese making- when it announced it was removing GMOs recently.
The tidal wave of abuse, as Alternet put it, was simply spectacular. Similarly, the state of Vermont was labeled anti-science for failing to label chymosin. But when you scratch the surface of this cheesy kerfuffle, even if it sounds counter-intuitive, Chipotle is scientifically correct to call its cheese “GMO-free”– even if, and in spite of- it being genetically engineered, as is the state of Vermont.
Like chalk and cheese: Is Chipotle really “GMO free?” http://acsh.org/2015/06/like-chalk-and-cheese-is-chipotle-really-gmo-free/ …
The effort to blur the differences between products of genetic modification of simple, one-celled organisms and GMO plants -the *organisms* – started awhile before the Chipotle fracas. Here you see the conflation of GMO corn with chymosin in the context of the labeling debate in Vermont.
And if “communicators” of this unscientifically distorted message confined it to social media, I might have overlooked it. But…. the goofballs made it personal when they took their woo-show on the road to my alma mater.
I love UC Davis, and am proud of the education I got there…indeed, I credit what little success I’ve achieved to U.C Davis’ high educational standards.
So, it troubled me to see UCD students who incur astronomical debt–for what should be independent science-based education–deceived by industry tainted pseudoscientific frauds.
Amazingly, everyone misses that one of the three things on the poster is nothing like the other two, even though the two on the left are microscopic bacteria….while the third is a large plant plainly visible to the naked eye.
The bacteria ( or yeast) on the left are modified by near-surgical precision to produce proteins– insulin and chymosin–while the one on the right is a plantwhose “engineering” is akin to a blindfolded Goofy playing darts with transgenes. I’ll delve into this a little more in the second installment.
But, first, let’s get some genetic engineering basics out of the way to help you picture how DNA is cut by restriction enzymes and ferried into cells using plasmids. Plasmids are DNA rings bacteria use to pass antibiotic resistance to each other, which serve as fundamental transformation vectors. They are sort of like parasitic genes replicating autonomously in bacteria ( and in some genetically engineered yeast)–without integration into the organism’s genome, and thus without genomic disruption.
It matters because plant genomes- the genetic blueprints- are orders of magnitude larger and more complex compared to bacteria or yeast.
Plant transformation always involves transgene insertion into the plants’ genome and consequently causes genetic disruption at the site of insertion as well as distant to the insertion sites.
Please watch and imagine the purple frog DNA is DNA that codes for insulin or chymosin.
…For Now, Let us Count the Ways Insulin and Chymosin are Nothing like GMO Plants
- Every bottle is labeled as recombinant DNA (rDNA)….
- No one is sneaking it into our bodies.
- Administered under doctors directions and supervision with informed consent
- Like all medical therapeutics underwent clinical trials
- The amino acid (protein building block) sequence is known and is precisely controlled. Humulin insulin, for example, is 100% identical to pancreatic, while other types have been modified to alter insulin’s properties-but intentionally.
- Like all drugs, adverse reactions are traceable and reported to the companies
- We are not exposed to the organism in which insulin is made. The E.coli bacteria (GMO itself) in which insulin is produced is killed and discarded when its product- insulin- is purified.
- Insulin is an enzyme, a single protein–not an entire plant made up of thousands of different proteins, minerals, fatty acids, potential allergens or toxins.
- Insulin doesn’t get out in the world reproducing spontaneously and contaminating other insulins resulting in loss of certification or markets for competitors
- People who don’t need or want insulin aren’t forced to have it.
- A longish explainer on chymosin- the protein/ enzyme from rennet used in cheesemaking is
- Now, let’s count the ways chymosin is different from the soybean oil producing plant on the right….
- First of all saying that a plant built of thousands of proteins, minerals, fatty acids, metabolites, potential toxins and allergens is just like a single protein is akin to saying a brick-house and brick, it’s built with, are the same thing. Or that a cow (Organism) and its milk (product) are the same. Absurd!
- The very first producer of chymosin (Pfizer) showed that genetically engineered chymosin has the same structure and function as calf-derived chymosin. The enzyme is identical to the chymosin from the animal. We can’t say that about GMO plant. In fact, we know too little about these plants because sophisticated metabolite and protein tests are not required and are not published, but many independent tests detect dramatic differences between transformed plants and their parents- including expression of hidden allergens.
- Antibiotic marker genes are destroyed. See here Most GMO plants were transformed using nptII and carry resistance genes for aminoglycosides– kanamycin,
- being the most common.
- Cheese is NOT made using the organism (GMO) but rather its product, a protein the enzyme- chymosin. Consequently, ALL cheeses on sale are in fact ‘GMO organism free’. Like all enzymes, it is required in small amounts, and since proteins are unstable, it degrades as the cheese matures. If chymosin remained active for too long, it would adversely affect the cheese by degrading the milk proteins too much. So, we don’t just never eat the organism (GMO), in the end, we don’t even eat the chymosin either. But when we eat GMO plants we eat the whole bloody organism-the GMO, not a ghost of protein. All of this means that Chipotle is correct not to worry about how its cheese is made and that it is entirely scientific for Vermont not to label it.
- We do not know the exact structure of the oil depicted by Kevin in his goofy poster- whether it’s healthy or not- because there aren’t any studies showing that. But even if the oil is healthy, lifting the oil out of the GMO and forgetting the GMO itself is deceptive, because once the oil is extracted the plant, the actual GMO- is fed to animals in the form of soybean meal. Similarly, although the sugar molecule from a genetically modified beet is identical to sugar from a non-engineered plant, the GMO in the form of beet pulp is fed to pets, while Kevin omits that fact as well. And I know that he knows better!
@ernestkoe @TheSeverian @RobbFraley and bacteria. You don’t see me criticizing medical #GMO Do you? Cuz Different technology & deployment
— Dr. Ena Valikov (@beachvetlbc) June 17, 2015
Now, during the Twitter exchange with Robb Fraley, who never uttered a word, I made a promise to explain how genetic modification of a simple organism, a bacteria or yeast– with less than 5,000 genes, is radically different from genetic engineering of a plant whose genome contains 35,000 genes. I will tackle that in the next installment (here it is).
RNAi GMO’s are also discussed here.
@FoodBabeBanned @TheSciBabe @kevinfolta By order of the scientists We ban that awful woo Degenerate the faithful With that science too
— Nancy Vosnidou (@SciCommServices) June 20, 2015
1. Uncle Robb’s credible science source: https://tobacco.ucsf.edu/acsh-attacks-american-cancer-society-good-evidence-acs-doing-something-right-e-cigs
2. The tobacco-peddling Dr. Gilbert Ross was one of the attackers of Dr. Oz, along with hisradioactive comrades, including Henry I Miller. I infer from this that Dr. Oz is stepping on the right toes:)
4. It turns out UC Davis put on the #IFAL2015 meeting and paid journalists to attend theirjunket funded by BIO, a Chemical Corporate industry trade group. Hopefully, students weren’t fooled by this industrial charade.
5. Blow-back for our science advocacy for science literacy, animal, and pubic health.
Monday, April 27, 2015
Alice in Wonderland- a Tragicomedy in Two Acts
The lies about GMO safety are screamed by blogs, shouted by just about every newspapers’ editorial board- having become mouthpieces for special interests centuries ago- and screeched by Michael Specter, tarnishing the legendary New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Scientific American….etc etc.. Every credible international and national science organization has endorsed GMO safety-they claim– and 88% of all scientists polled insist they are safe, in contrast to the conspiratorial public. For when a big lie is repeated by PR minions funded by Chemical Corporate billions, it eventually mutates into pseudo truth–or so the Corporations paying off the mass media to relentlessly reprint blatant lies, thinks.
Now even my beloved Comedy Channel, a trusted friend I turn to in the mass media mental asylum, is in on the crazy and I am disturbed that one of my favorite comedians is peddling unscientific gobbledygook But he is an entertainer, a comedian. So, what happens when a fundamental science question related to GMO is posed to one of these 88% scientists?
Read along and follow my little adventure- a social experiment of sorts, and you will learn how willfully illiterate actual scientists can be about biotechnology science- the 88% legitimizing a fictitious consensus on a scientific subject they have no business discussing in the first place.
Spud 1. The Simplot potato reduced in an amino acid called asparagine, engineered through silencing RNA (RNA interference also known as dsRNA, which stands for double stranded RNA ) technology. The uncertainty surrounding these Simplot taters is discussed here. and more thoroughly here : http://www.bioscienceresource.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/RNAi-Biosafety-DraftPaper-2015-LathamWilson.pdf
We don’t know whether genetic engineering produced off-target-effects common with this nascent silencing technology.
Rigorous studies have simply not been published and there isn’t one feeding study showing this potato is either safe or that it reduces rates of acrylamide-associated cancer in any laboratory animal or human.
We have this in common with the taters, though-we too rely on asparagine to nourish our cells. An interesting factoid is a common chemotherapy drug useful for lymphoma in animals and people works by destroying asparagine. Please don’t misunderstand this to mean that the potato will act as a chemotherapy drug–that’s not what I am saying–we don’t know enough about this plant, in the same exact way that we don’t know enough about the silenced apple discussed in my previous Twitter drama here.
Without published peer reviewed studies, its impossible to tell which exact genes were silenced in the plant, or whether the short silencing RNA matches our own. But if the RNA were to match our own and was absorbed-it could, indeed, silence our genes, including potentially the ones synthesizing asparagine. I quote a good explainer on double stranded ds RNA/ miRNA. “One fascinating aspect of miRNA is that they control 60% of the genes in the human genome. The secret lies in their promiscuity. One miRNA can bind to many mRNAs and inhibit their expression” So a fundamental preliminary question is: “does this RNA molecule get degraded in your gut, or does it get absorbed, such that it could silence our genes? “. Keep this in mind…the reason will become clear in Act II.
Spud 2. Another funny. A new study reporting presence of T-DNA in cultivated sweet potatoes which the GMO establishment would love you to believe means there is nothing different between engineering potatoes using T-DNA (tumor-inducing-plasmid) in a laboratory and what happens in nature. They are identical, so you can stop worrying and just enjoy the ride. But while the study reports presence of a vector used in genetic engineering, in natural sweet potatoes, it does not establish T-DNA as a prerequisite to cultivation, nor that it improves nutritive value, disease resistance or confers any benefit. That might explain why I’m not laughing at the comical post linked. Suppose scientists who discovered cancer viruses in our DNA claimed people were genetically engineered by nature to carry cancer– and then decided to infect everyone with these dandy viruses we have coevolved with, unlike GMOs -would you think they were funny or a little crazy?
Where Anti-science Anti-evidence Anti-GMO -me
asks a Pro-science, Pro-evidence, Pro-GMO -her
science & evidence
Glad to see The Daily Show doing a bit on showing the anti-science/non-evidence-based-fear-culture that the anti-GMO movement perpetuates.
” Ariel is an appointed National Academy of Sciences committee member of a congressionally-requested study on the future of human spaceflight. She also sits on the council for NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC), a program that nurtures radical, sci-fi-esque ideas that could transform future space missions. In 2013, Ariel received an honor from the White House for being a Champion of Change in citizen science”
@arielwaldman Plse do show me EVIDENCE of ur GMO science literacy I’d hate to believe that the pro-GMO movement is a mob of zombies
@beachvetlbc here’s the @NASciences report on GMOs. I recommend reading it. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/12804/impact-of-genetically-engineered-crops-on-farm-sustainability-in-the-united-states … to be pro OR anti ALL GMOs is ignorant.
The Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States
Since genetically engineered (GE) crops were introduced in 1996, their use in the United States has grown rapidly, accounting for 80-90 percent of soybean, corn, and cotton acreage in 2009. To date,…
I am not sure if I was supposed to be impressed by her elite status in the science hierarchy, which I just learned about today, or that she conquered the skill of copy & paste. Aside from that, I am neither pro-GMO or anti-GMO, having used products of genetic engineering in my practice -recombinant insulin, interferon, erythropoietin, Neupogen- and even ( *gasp*) genetically engineered yeast in my younger days.
Challenging her to show me her science evidence, or as less politically correct people might say “put up or shut up”, is evidently frowned upon by “credible ” elite scientists because she answers my question on digestibility of silencing RNA with a link to a large book on farm sustainability–which, by the way, doesn’t hold the answer to my question. Farm sustainability has exactly nothing to do with health and safety studies on these potatoes, though you are welcome to read the book and prove me wrong.
I certainly didn’t feel any disrespect towards a preeminent science organization established on Congressional orders by President Abraham Lincoln until I noticed that the National Academy of Sciences favorites her unfounded accusation sandwiched between insults, frank ignorance and uncompromising arrogance. And then as I tasted the vomit in my mouth, I realized, that like the majority of rusted decrepit institutions in ‘Merica, the NAS has become yet just another corrupt politician wearing a cheap suit with a logo on it.
I am certain that as a member of that 88% of scientists– unlike an ignorant anti-science veterinary medical doctor, whose patients eat GMOs–she considers them perfectly safe, based on science they DO NOT comprehend. Ignorance is bliss! Presumptions, prejudices and insults evidently compensate for the fact that physics scientists have absolutely no idea what GMOs are, and really have no business even having their opinions tallied in any poll on GMO science. These polls need to carefully and scientifically measure opinions of experts in biotechnology and health, ecology and other relevant fields.
An apology and admission of ignorance are evidently also frowned upon by the 88% of premier scientists who agreed on GMO safety- based on complete utter ignorance- and asking questions….well, that’s just completely out of the question. They can’t answer any of them-don’t even try.
Thus she does what is customarily expected of adults…….she hides by blocking me.
Thousands of words have been written and hundreds of different pieces of advice have been dispensed by sociologists and other experts at dozens of meetings on communication of the science of genetic engineering to the public. It just hasn’t occurred to anyone that the best way might be to politely ask questions and listen to the answers instead of hurling insults and then hiding upon making the discovery that the public might be smarter than the pseudo-experts.
Moral of the story : the famous consensus on GMO safety is as solid as vapor.
1. I found the statements by the scientist in the video to be nothing more than tired and overused talking points unsupported by any evidence. There is no evidence that anti-GMO movement or regulation have hindered marketing of GMOs- there has not been a single plant that the USDA hasn’t deregulated. In fact, according to a public interest attorney,the entire regulatory scheme is fraudulent.
2. The statements on BT are patently false. Cry proteins have been reported to induce mucosal and systemic immune reactions, which might indeed lead to “leaky gut”.
Thursday, January 1, 2015
Dr. Kevin Folta, chairman of the horticulture department at University of Florida wrote a blog post titled “Inconvenient Glyphosate Math” linked above in the title, but his new mathmuddies the facts on glyphosate instead of illuminating them.It represents the pacifying, complacent extreme on medical relevance of glyphosate- and some might say, my blog post will present the opposite, the precautionary principled extreme.
I was prompted to write this because an alarming study was recently published reporting glyphosate leads to proliferation of a type of breast cancer cells- sensitive to estrogen & progesterone. Common sense suggests that a prevalent chemical stimulating growth of breast cancer in trace amounts surely should be monitored. Unfortunately, as you will see, our regualtory agencies tasked with protecting public health have never monitored glyphosate and still do not.
” Glyphosate is an active ingredient of the most widely used herbicide and it is believed to be less toxic than other pesticides. However, several recent studies showed its potential adverse health effects to humans as it may be an endocrine disruptor. This study focuses on the effects of pure glyphosate on estrogen receptors (ERs) mediated transcriptional activity and their expressions. Glyphosate exerted proliferative effects only in human hormone-dependent breast cancer, T47D cells, but not in hormone-independent breast cancer, MDA-MB231 cells, at 10⁻¹² to 10⁻⁶M in estrogen withdrawal condition. The proliferative concentrations of glyphosate that induced the activation of estrogen response element (ERE) transcription activity were 5-13 fold of control in T47D-KBluc cells and this activation was inhibited by an estrogen antagonist, ICI 182780, indicating that the estrogenic activity of glyphosate was mediated via ERs. Furthermore, glyphosate also altered both ERα and β expression. These results indicated that low and environmentally relevant concentrations of glyphosate possessed estrogenic activity.Glyphosate-based herbicides are widely used for soybean cultivation, and our results also found that there was an additive estrogenic effect between glyphosate and genistein, a phytoestrogen in soybeans. However, these additive effects of glyphosate contamination in soybeans need further animal study.
Previous studies have already suggested it acts as an endocrine disruptor affecting aromatase. This of course is in addition to many other studies demonstrative of pathological changes including teratogenecity via the retinoic acid pathway, as well as uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation potentiated by glyphosate’s adjuvants, associated with liver damage among other disorders. Unfortunately toxicity of these undisclosedinactive ingredients isn’t evaluated in toxicity studies, even though they are very active!
More information on glyphosate here
Neither the FDA nor the USDA have ever measured glyphosate residues in food in spite of the fact that use of glyphosate has skyrocketed with evolution of superweeds, making it the most prevalent chemical in agriculture.
So, I was curious what the residues of glyphosate in food might be.
- Labeling instruction are 22-64 oz/acre / season depending on weed pressure.
- A liter of glyphosate formula contains 560gm of glyphosate (plus adjuvants potentiating toxicity)
- 22oz/acre=0.66L x 560gm/ L= 369.6gm/ acre -to- 64oz/acre=1.92L x 560gm/L= 1075gm/ acre.
- Average soybean yield / acre=2580lb~1170kg
- 369.6gm/1170kg soybeans=0.316gm (316mg)– to- 1075gm/1170kg soybeans=0.920gm (920mg)
The answer is: WE DON’T!
We do know this though: glyphosate stimulates breast cancer in parts/trillion–thousands of times less than even the smallest measured concentrations. And we know undoubtedly that the cancer experts at the World Health Organization just classified it as a probable carcinogen (Class 2A).
Is this back-o’-the-cocktail- napkin analysis ….. a glorified~sorta~educatedguess…sufficient to protect public health? Of course not! Just look at the difference between Dr. Folta’s guesstimate and mine.
However in the meantime, we should apply the Precautionary Principle:
When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.
All statements of the Precautionary Principle contain a version of this formula: When the health of humans and the environment is at stake, it may not be necessary to wait for scientific certainty to take protective action.
Q. Is there some special meaning for “precaution”?
A. It’s the common sense idea behind many adages: “Be careful.” “Better safe than sorry.” “Look before you leap.” “First do no harm.”
The Precautionary principle is discussed in 13 international treaties < Please download the PDF Excerpt Despite its presence in a growing body of EU and national legislation and case law, the application of the precautionary principle has been strongly opposed by vested interests who perceive short term economic costs from its use. There is also intellectual resistance from scientists who fail to acknowledge that scientific ignorance and uncertainty, are excessively attached to conventional scientific paradigms, and who wait for very high strengths of evidence before accepting causal links between exposure to stressors and harm. The chapter focuses on some of the key issues that are relevant to a more common understanding of the precautionary principle and to its wider application. These include different and confusing definitions of the precautionary principle and of related concepts such as prevention, risk, uncertainty, variability and ignorance; common myths about the meaning of the precautionary principle; different approaches to the handling of scientific complexity and uncertainty; and the use of different strengths of evidence for different purposes. The context for applying the precautionary principle also involves considering the ‘knowledge to ignorance’ ratio for the agent in focus: the precautionary principle is particularly relevant where the ratio of knowledge to ignorance is low, as with emerging technologies.
Buy USDA Organic- especially if you are pregnant or suffer from hormone sensitive breast cancer.
* Anonymous spokesperson at USDA says that it is too expensive to measure glyphosate. Question is: too expensive for who? FDA & USDA can’t afford liquid chromatography in tandem with MS, that just about every university has? Hmmmmm. Clearly the $8,000,000,000/ annual herbicide sales have not influenced that decision.