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GMOs—Control, Power and Money

What are the true motives behind the genetic manipulation of human and animal food crops? They have been hidden behind ethical fronts like the cure for world hunger, disease prevention, improved crop yields and reduced costs for consumers. However, the driving force behind genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is proving to be far from ethical; it’s all about control, power and money. The pharmaceutical industry has contributed largely to the pioneering of this technology since the 1960s to produce hormones for human use and we’ve benefited tremendously from a therapeutic standpoint. Just like nature, technology has a way of evolving but conventionally technological advancement depends on guidance by man. However, we may be at the brink of witnessing an interesting hybrid of the evolutionary process—natural selection advancing man-made technology at a genetic level.

Evolution and the natural selection process are themselves all about genetic engineering but the major difference with the natural process and that which man has initialized is that man’s hand in nature is disrupting a highly codependent universal system which moves on a different time line. The co-dependence between species and kingdoms within our world is intimate and extremely delicate. Evolution advances with an intellectual language which is grammatically correct for nature. Humanity is part of that codependent circle at a level even deeper than the gene whether we want to admit it or not. The food chemistry we consume is converted by our genetic codes into specific sequences which are grammatically correct for our biological constitutions. Changing the sequences in these food sources changes the language our own cells and genes depend on for communication and articulation.

Not too long ago, the genetic sequence for a special flounder protein was isolated and infused in the DNA of a plant—genes from a fish forced into the DNA of a terrestrial plant! With this remarkable biotechnology, we have produced potatoes which have a genetically built-in capacity to resist frost; strawberries can now be grown beyond the natural growing season with greater yields. These foods look and taste like nature’s variety but the man-made force within it idles with an uncertain bioenergy. I have to honestly admit, my passion for scientific research and advancement of technology has me drooling at the prospect of genetic engineering and the theoretical potential it brings to health care and nutritional value of future foods.

Just think; we could soon produce fruits and vegetables with gene sequences for higher levels of vitamins, proteins and essential fatty and amino acids. The opportunities are endless and the adrenalin rush associated with the exploration of uncharted waters is profound. We could create an apple with the capacity to manufacture and deliver insulin in its flesh— a new meaning to functional and therapeutic foods. Today’s genetic engineering of staple crops is no different than the exploration by yesteryear's navigators to claim uncharted land. However, if we step away from the emotional rush of exploration of the unknown to analyze the possible consequences, the intellectual process easily justifies why we should not proceed with the insidious momentum.

Despite knowing wrong from right, man will proceed with a futile egotistical penchant to control and dominate natural order. Ultimately the measuring stick of the corporation is profit and unfortunately this measurement will motivate unexpected human behavior. Based on this human characteristic, the funds available to scientists on quests to produce patentable seeds are enormous while the funds available to environmental scientists trying to evaluate the environmental impact are sparse. Therein lays the source of the imbalanced investigating and reporting.

Genetic engineering has taken on various formats. Plants have been equipped genetically to resist herbicides so farmers can blanket spray for weeds while the cash crop survives.

Another engineering objective is to infuse the plant with an unnatural gene sequence encoded for a toxin which kills natural pests such as microbes or insects. But these feats have simply advanced the potential for more toxicity. In the case of the herbicide-resistant crop, more of the weed chemicals can be used on the plantation and this translates into more crop absorption, increased soil saturation and greater potential for leaching into the waterways. The natural cross-pollination process will infiltrate organic and non-GMO plantations and it also holds the possibility of producing resistant weeds—a new generation of plant-life which is foreign to our world. The long-term implications are unforeseeable by man.


The case of genetically built-in insecticides presents another formidable question. How is this unnatural toxin level affecting man? The recent introduction of the Bt toxin gene into corn, by Monsanto, has produced tremendous controversy. Monsanto is a driving force in genetic engineering; this corporate pathogen has accumulated in access of 600 patents. The novel corn plant produces over ten times as much toxin as would be produced by the bacterium in nature. Currently scientists are monitoring and anxiously waiting to see how this toxicity has affected the ecology around the plots; with special interests on butterflies, bees and ladybugs. Has anyone determined how the toxin tips the delicate balance of our cell chemistry? Humans are not designed to metabolize the toxin either. Research we do today to determine how these genetic changes influence the environment; the flora and fauna; and more specifically our own metabolism, cannot take into account the long-term effects which nature will craft from these man-made seeds.

If we consider the model of the pharmaceutical drug, which most often represents a chemical foreign to nature, we know the true measure of the drug’s effects or side-effects are not apparent until the drug is circulated globally amongst the world’s population. At that point we become the global guinea pigs to help determine if the drug stays in circulation or not. Genetic engineering of our food is deeper again. Once we have planted these twisted seeds nature will incorporate them into her own process and a devastating inflection point in evolution may take place. The immediate toxicity pales in comparison to what is about to germinate.

Agrobacterium is a common pathogenic microbe which naturally attacks plants and infuses its own DNA into the plant’s, getting the plant’s cells to produce fuels and metabolic building blocks which are beneficial to the bacterium. This natural system proceeds with genetically encoded checks and stops. Scientists have used this Agrobacterium vector to implant within them selected genetic codes in the form of plasmids, but contrary to how nature has progressed in a relatively controlled manner we are now prompting Agrobacterium to cross universal lines and share DNA which it did not have access to in nature and shuttle it across different classes of life. The genetically built-in stops and checks are removed or overridden.

Although many of these gene-derived characteristics such as the flounder protein with antifreeze properties have been in our food chain for a long time to be part of our own evolutionary process, we do not have control over how these genes will cross over into other species and consummate new sequences. Mutation can alter these man-made arrangements one step further to produce mild changes in the protein and flesh of fruit. The new protein can be experienced by our bodies as an unfamiliar allergen. As a result we might experience mild sub-clinical symptoms which fester quietly and surface once in a while as familiar disease. Chronic inflammation or inadvertent allergic reactions might be the clinical symptom. In fact, we experienced a mass recall of food products made with a genetically-modified corn which produced profound allergic reactions that were not prolific in the past. These crops, however, were quickly diverted to animals as agricultural feeds or ingredients in our pet foods. One way or another they are passed on to affect us metabolically through animal food products such as milk, cheese, and even muscle meats. They’ll also affect us emotionally through the ailments which are becoming prolific in our pets.

Nutragenomics—The Science of Nutritional Therapies

However, an even more insidious activity can fester to produce profound metabolic disorder without apparent cause and without any signatory change to our own genetic profiles. Nutragenomics is science of nutrient-gene interactions. It’s the next level of understanding for nutritional therapies. It is the science of nutrients interacting with genetic signalling. Our biology is dependent on nutrient sequences to interface with our genetic activity. How will the new genetic programs from food influence the food’s nutrient profiles? How will these new profiles interface with our human genome? We’ve experienced the effects of this nutritional profile change with processed foods, but mainstream medicine and biotechnology has yet to acknowledge it while they move forward toward genetic modification taking the problem one metabolic step deeper. Processed foods are completely devoid or just moderately compromised of precious vitamins, minerals and important antioxidants. Foods which are processed and altered from their natural balance can have a higher than natural glycemic load. Vitamin, mineral and antioxidant proportions are thrown off. They have been shown to influence insulin efficiency and inflammation in profoundly negative way. The change in macronutrient and micronutrient ratios has a profound effect on hormone cascades throughout the body.

Metabolic Disorders and Genetic Alterations

The problem we’re about to face is much bigger than nutritional profile changes. Genetic engineering will produce a completely different animal when it comes to this endocrine response and illness. The first sign that metabolic disorders can rise out of these genetic alterations is a study done at Roweet Research Institute in Scotland, which found rats fed genetically altered potatoes for a lengthy period developed at a substantially different growth rate with serious physiological and metabolic impediments. Brain development of the rats was thwarted and other organs and glands developed abnormally. Interestingly the potatoes were analyzed to have a completely different protein profile. The study was buried and the head researcher fired for releasing the findings. However, the data was eventually unveiled due to media and legal pressure. It gets worse.

Morgellons Disease and Agrobacterium

In recent years the emergence of an unknown illness has prompted U.S. national attention with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention taking part in a government effort to investigate the illness. The disease was labelled Morgellons disease in 2002 to put a name to a condition characterized by skin irritation, skin lesions, fatigue and joint pain. Most disturbing is what is found to be growing out of these skin sores—blue fibres, white threads and black specks of granular material. Early in 2006 we knew of about 2,000 cases. By February of 2007 in excess of 10,000 cases were reported with the majority of the cases collected around Florida, Texas and California. The molecular constitution of the unfamiliar fibres was eventually checked against national databases and the determination was that they “cannot be man-made and do not come from plant.” The finding that’s hair-raising is the eventual discovery the fibres contain that previously mentioned Agrobacterium—the bacterial vector used in the transgenic process. Although agrobacteria exist in our soil naturally, it is also the vector commonly used in the laboratory to transfer genes in the engineering process. Agrobacterium is now found to reside in the sores of the cases of Morgellons disease.

Agrobacteria are not found in healthy tissues of the same subjects. The next question that must be answered is whether or not the fibres of this novel disease are being produced by the human cells of the infected tissues. Currently I am investigating to determine if those tissues have been infused with foreign genomes by Agrobacterium, which itself has been altered to void its natural genetic checkpoints. Are we seeding new intelligence into subordinate classes of life, creating new pathogens for man? Antibiotic resistance will be a trivial complication in comparison.

I guess one could postulate that if man is part of that delicate codependent ecosystem the man-made genomes and the evolutionary shifts they’ll create are themselves part of a natural process. It’s not too late to prevent further damage but it is too late to stop nature’s incorporation of these man-made alterations. We’ll just have to wait to see what germinates next as nature carries on the manipulation or it naturally weeds it out.

References available upon request or as detailed in Potential Within, A Guide to Nutritional Empowerment by Franco Cavaleri, B.Sc. National Bestselling Health Guide. ISBN 0-9731701-0-7.

Franco Cavaleri, BSc

Franco graduated from the University of British Columbia, where he majored in Nutritional Science and Biochemistry. His postgraduate work was taken out of the education system and into private research in a move to maintain commercial control and corporate ownership of the cutting edge nutrient – based pharmacological property. He continues to focus on the latest gene-related and insulin-related nutraceutical research working with human, canine and other models (species-specific nutrigenomics). He has been a regular lecturer to pharmacy and other health care students of post secondary institutions introducing the pharmacology and drug interactions of some key nutraceuticals and how they too relate to nutrigenomic activity.

Cavaleri is also the author of the best-selling Potential Within: A Guide To Nutritional Empowerment.