GMO whistleblower: Canadian federal scientist speaks out

The Common Sense Canadian -

An interview with a whistle-blower doesn’t happen every day. I spoke with Dr. Thierry Vrain, a former soil biologist and genetic scientist who for 35 years worked for Agriculture Canada, and was the designated spokesperson to assure the public of the safety of GMO crops.
He retired ten years ago, and thus no longer received a paycheck dependent on a specific perspective. With time to read different viewpoints on GMO agriculture, Dr. Vrain experienced a gradual awakening, leading him to speak out passionately about the devastating effects of GMOs, both to the environment, and to the health of sentient beings.
My partner and I listened carefully as Dr. Vrain explained the basics of Genetic Engineering. Cells of every living organism consist of basically three major kinds of molecules: carbohydrates (made by plants through photosynthesis from sunlight) lipids, and proteins. The carbs and lipids do not move, but the proteins do. “Every molecule of protein can twitch, can make a movement…that molecule can twitch another molecule and can do something in the cell”. The intention of the genetic scientist is to engineer a protein in the plant to do something NEW in the plant.
For example, a new protein would be engineered to kill insects. The new gene is inserted into the plant, along with an antibiotic resistance gene. The outcome on the soil is basically that “every single engineered plant on the planet today has antibiotic resistance gene in it. That gene is in the genome, it’s in the roots, it’s in the soil and that can be picked up by the bacteria in the soil”.  This is all happening globally on several hundred million acres of farmland planted with GMO crops.
In an effort to sell the public on the benefits of genetic engineering, the biotechnology industry came up with a special term to describe their new creation. The genetically modified plant is described as being “substantially equivalent” to a conventional plant. But if DNA has been altered, isn’t the plant different, and not equivalent?

Then Dr. Vrain explained how a scientist can hold a different view of nature. He asked us to imagine if by adding a human gene to corn, we could have 10,000 acres of corn growing insulin, and wouldn’t that kind of progress be very good? So if a tomato plant has a bacterial gene, and the fruit still looks and tastes like a tomato, to a scientist it is still a tomato plant, and therefore, the principle of substantial equivalence seemed natural to describe the genetically altered plant.
Now immersed in our science lesson, we learned about the results of the Human Genome Project, completed in 2002. Its goal was to sequence the whole genome of a person. Before this research, the science of molecular biology was based on the theory that the human body functions with about 100,000 proteins. DNA codes for proteins, and it was believed that each protein is coded for by one gene. Thus, if there are 100,000 proteins in our body, then there should be 100,000 genes.
However, the Human Genome Project concluded we have only just over 20,000 genes in our body. Suddenly, the one gene, one protein hypothesis no longer applied. It was an old paradigm.  Since science is based on observation, here was a perfect example of yesterday’s scientific “fact” being obsolete.


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