Donabee.com Health & Wellness



 
Farmer's GMO Pain
Percy Schmeiser in Saskatchewan was found guilty of: a) having Monsanto genetics on his land, and b) not advising Monsanto to come and fetch it. Problem is he didn't plant it or buy it. His neighbor's GM crops pollinated his crops. Monsanto sued him for patent infringement.. and won. Read More.
 
Risks of GMO Food
It is an erroneous argument that genetic engineering is just like plant breeding. When you introduce a different gene to a plant or animal you can not predict the outcome. - Prof. David Schubert  Read More.
 

Fate of foodNA

Evaluation of the safety of genetically modified (GM) crops seems to be hampered by the unwillingness of regulators to recognize and  evaluate the impact of genetic effects that are outside simplistic models of genes and their behavior. Read More.
 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Klebsiella planticola - a Good Example of Why GMO is a real bad idea

In the early 1990's, an European genetic engineering company was preparing to field test a genetically engineered soil bacteria called Klebsiella planticola. The plan was to then commercialize use of it on a major scale. The new mutant bacteria had not been tested properly. In fact, the minimal safety tests done were careless, very unscientific and done by scientists working for the biotech industry. The mutant bacteria was certified safe for the environment. (1)

K. planticola is of the genus Klebsiella, which is a non-motile rod-shaped gram-negative enterobacterium. This is one of the exceptions to the enterobacteria family, which are mainly mammalian, gut-inhabiting bacteria. This however resides on the root systems of plants. K. planticola of strain SDF 15 is the environmentally-safe, natural bacterial strain. K. planticola (SDF 15) is the parent cell line for another strain, which is called K. planticola (SDF 20). K. planticola (SDF 20) is a genetically engineered version from Germany which was designed to increase the production of lactose fermentation of agricultural wastes. (2)

Careless testing of this mutant strain of Klebsiella planticola allowed it to almost enter the public domain, before research by independent scientists (Dr. Elaine Ingham, et al.; Oregon State University) showed that this GM-strain actually killed any wheat planted into the soil where the GM-strain was dispersed. Plant matter was to be collected along with Genetically Modified  K. planticola in large containers for ethanol production. After the plant matter was decomposed, there would be a deposit left over that would be rich in nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sulfur-basically a good fertilizer. It was after this residue was redistributed on to fields that it would do its damaging deed. The K. planticola actually sticks to the root system of plants by creating a slime-like layer. The GM- K. planticola would then be connected to the plants root system and while it is there it would produce ethanol in levels of 17 ppm (~1-2 ppm ethanol is deadly for plants). K. planticola can attach to any plants, not just wheat, so essentially all global plant life could have been put into jeopardy because of a genetically altered bacteria. (2)

Fortunately a team of independent scientists, headed by Dr. Ingham decided to run their own tests on the gene-altered Klebsiella planticola. What they discovered was not only startling, but terrifying--the biotech industry had created a biological monster--a genetically engineered microorganism that would kill all terrestrial plants. After Ingham's expose, the gene-altered Klebsiella planticola was never commercialized. But as Ingham points out, the lack of pre-market safety testing of other genetically altered organisms virtually guarantees that future biological monsters will be released into the environment. (1)

Addison Raine made this comment, "This microbe was interesting to me because as a future biochemical engineer, I was interested at how little testing is required before allowing a GM product into production. I hope that I am able to ensure a high level of environmental protection when I am employed later in life. K. planticola is a great example of how seemingly non-dangerous alterations can actually create devastating consequences on the genetic level."

Dr. Elaine Ingham's Testimony before the (New Zealand) Royal Commission on Genetic Modification

February 2001

Executive Summary of Dr. Ingham's Testimony:

  1. Genetically engineered organisms have not been adequately assessed for their environmental or human health effects. It is inadequate to subject ORGANISMS to the tested [sic] required for non-living chemical pesticides, and conclude that there will be no adverse or risky effects from release of those organisms based on that testing.
  2. A graduate student of mine, no longer working in the field of engineered organisms, and I did some research on a particular engineered bacterium that had been approved by the USEPA for field testing. No environmental effects were detected during pesticide or toxicity testing with this organism. However, Michael Holmes discovered that the engineered bacterium, Klebsiella planticola with a additional alcohol gene, killed all the wheat plants in microcosms into which the engineered organisms was added
    1.  None of the wheat plants were killed in microcosms into which the not-engineered parent organism or just water were added.

  3. This bacterium was engineered to produce alcohol from plant debris, so alcohol could be produced after raking up grass straw residues instead of burning fields. This organism would have been released to the real world by placing the residue left at the bottom of the fermentation container following grass straw alcohol production on fields as fertilizer. With a single release, we know that bacteria can spread over large distances, probably world-wide.
  4. These bacteria would therefore get into the root systems of all terrestrial plants and begin to produce alcohol. The engineered bacterium produces far beyond the required amount of alcohol per gram soil than required to kill any terrestrial plant. This would result in the death of all terrestrial plants, because the parent bacterium has been found in the root systems of all plants where anyone has looked for its presence. This could have been the single most devastating impact on human beings since we would likely have lost corn, wheat, barley, vegetable crops, trees, bushes, etc, conceivably all terrestrial plants.
  5. It is clear, therefore, that current testing procedures required by US regulatory agencies are completely inadequate in assessing the potential risks involved with genetically engineered organisms. Until such time as adequate testing procedures are instigated and carried out, engineered organisms should not be considered to have acceptable risks.

    References for Ingram

    Holmes, M. and E.R. Ingham. (1999) Ecological effects of genetically engineered Klebsiella planticola released into agricultural soil with varying clay content. Appl. Soil Ecol. 3:394-399.

    Source: http://www.biotech-info.net/EI_testimony_NZ.html

 

Footnotes:

(1) Say No to GMO's Klebsiella planticola
(2)  Klebsiella planticola  by Addison Raine - Missouri S&T Biological Sciences
 

Links:
bulletOrganic Consumers Association. “Klebsiella planticola--The Gene-Altered Monster
That Almost Got Away”. <http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/klebsiella.cfm.> February 29th, 2004.
bulletUnion of Concerned Scientists. “Wi98: Update on Risk Research”. 2002. <http://www.ucsusa.org/publications/gene_exchange.cfm?publicationID=266>. February 29th, 2004.
bulletThe Free Dictionary.com. “Klebsiella Definition”. 2004. <http://www.thefreedictionary.com/klebsiella>. February 29th, 2004.
bullet Ecological Balance and Biological Integrity by Elaine Ingham Oregon State University 1999

 

 

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