Ken Roseboro is editor and publisher of The Organic & Non-GMO Report, a monthly news magazine that focuses on threats posed by GM foods and the growing non-GMO food trend. He sat down with Caius Rommens, who was Director of Research at Simplot Plant Sciences from 2000 to 2013 where he led the development of the company’s genetically engineered Innate potato.
Over time, Rommens started to have serious doubts about his work and worried about potential health risks from eating the GMO potatoes, which are now sold in 4,000 supermarkets in the United States. Prior to this he worked at Monsanto as a team leader.
At Simplot, he designed a genetically modified potato that he believed “was resistant to bruise and late blight, and that could be used to produce French fries that were less colored and less carcinogenic than normal fries.
The following came from this interview with Rommens:
Interviewer: The main genetic engineering of the Simplot GMO potatoes…was silencing genes called RNAi. What are some of the possible negative consequences of silencing genes?
Rommens: Silencing is not gene-specific. Any gene with a similar structure to the silencing construct may be silenced as well. It is even possible that the silencing that takes place inside the GM potatoes affects the genes of animals eating these GM potatoes. I am most concerned about bees that don’t eat GM potatoes but may use GM potato pollen to feed their larvae. Based on my assessment of the literature, it appears that the silencing constructs are active in pollen.
He is telling us that silencing the PRO (polyphenol oxidase, a gene responsible for browning in potatoes) gene increases toxins that accumulate within the GMO potatoes.
Interviewer: Why are these toxins are produced and what effects they could have on human health?
Rommens: Ex-colleagues of mine had shown that PPO-silencing increases the levels of alpha-aminoadipate by about six-fold. Alpha-aminoadipate is a neurotoxin, it can also react with sugars to produce advanced glycoxidation prouducts implicated in a variety of diseases.
This is obviously concerning, and makes one wonder how these ‘things’ were approved for human consumption. In 2009, an application for the approval of a Monsanto GM corn variety, LY038, was denied in Europe after regulators there found it to have high concentrations of alpha-aminoadipate.
Rommens: Similarly, ex-colleagues had shown that the damaged and bruised tissues of potatoes may accumulate high levels of tyramine, another toxin. Such damaged tissues are normally identified and trimmed, but they are concealed, or partially concealed, and much of it is not trimmed in GM potatoes.
Therefore, it seems important that Simplot should determine the full spectrum of possible tyramine levels in their GM potatoes. Another potential toxin is chaconine-malonyl. There is little known about this compound, but ex-colleagues had shown that it is increased by almost 200 percent upon PPO-silencing. This should probably be investigated.
They key factor here is the impact of GMO technology on the proliferation of a variety of diseases.
Rommens Retracts His Own Paper
A paper published by Rommens and colleague J.R. Simplot, also a former Monsanto employee, entitled Crop Improvement through Modification of the Plant’s Own Genome, was later retracted by the authors themselves after they admitted to fraud. According to the abstract,
Plant genetic engineering has, until now, relied on the incorporation of foreign DNA into plant genomes. Public concern about the extent to which transgenic crops differ from their traditionally bred counterparts has resulted in molecular strategies and gene choices that limit, but do not eliminate, the introduction of foreign DNA.
Here, we demonstrate that a plant-derived P-DNA fragment can be used to replace the universally employed Agrobacterium transfer T-DNA. Marker-free P-DNAs are transferred to plant cell nuclei together with conventional T-DNAs carrying a selectable marker gene.
By subsequently linking a positive selection for temporary marker gene expression to a negative selection against marker gene integration, 29% of derived regeneration events contain P-DNA insertions but lack any copies of the T-DNA.
Further refinements are accomplished by employing Ω-mutated virD2 and isopentenyl transferase cytokinin genes to impair T-DNA integration and select against backbone integration, respectively.
The presented methods are used to produce hundreds of marker-free and backbone-free potato (Solanum tuberosum) plants displaying reduced expression of a tuber-specific polyphenol oxidase gene in potato. The modified plants represent the first example of genetically engineered plants that only contain native DNA.
This article has been retracted at the request of the authors. Retraction is based on three inaccurate statements of facts that are associated with a plant-derived transfer DNA. Two of the inaccuracies were described on p. 422 (first paragraph of the “Results” section): the plant-derived transfer DNA was not isolated from pooled wild potato (Solanum tuberosum) DNA but, instead, from DNA of the commercial potato var Ranger Russet, and its sequence was not confirmed by inverse PCR.
Furthermore, the sequences of the left and right border-like regions shown in Figure 1B reflect transfer DNA-like primer sequences and are not present in the Ranger Russet genome. The corresponding author, Caius M. Rommens, takes responsibility for the inaccuracies and sincerely apologizes to the readers, reviewers, and editors of Plant Physiology.
The GMO-Cancer rat study is also another example of great interest with regards to concerns.
There are also WikiLeaks documents pertaining to GMOs showing just how politicized these matters are; the US even threatened to cause ‘economic war’ to countries who refused their product.
“The US Department of State is selling seeds instead of democracy. This report provides a chilling snapshot of how a handful of giant biotechnology companies are unduly influencing US foreign policy and undermining our diplomatic efforts to promote security, international development and transparency worldwide. This report is a call to action for Americans because public policy should not be for sale to the highest bidder.” – Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive (source)
One Massive Genetic Experiment
The manipulation of science by GMO proponents in order to get them approved, and become filthy rich at the expense of the environment and human health is clearly a dangerous problem. Biologist and author David Suzuki were right when he said that humanity has become one massive genetic experiment.
The genetic modification which has and does occur in nature is far different from what these biotechnology companies are doing. I go into much more detail about that in a previous article.
Thankfully, we have courageous scientists with integrity like Caius Rommens who are willing to abandon their lucrative careers in favor of human safety and the truth. For further reading, please refer to the articles linked below.
Source: Collective-evolution.com (excerpt)