GMO misconceptions: Tomatoes with fish genes not ‘fishy’

| | November 10, 2015

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

A backlash toward GMO foods has emerged over recent years. According to an ABC News poll, approximately half of the United States population believes that GMOs are unsafe to eat.

Most of the concern stems from fear. Many people find the idea of inserting a gene from a bacteria into corn repulsive — the assumption being that the corn is now contaminated by bacteria and unsafe to eat. The same fear surfaced recently when it came to light that experiments were underway to insert a fish gene into tomato plants to make tomatoes more resistant to freezing. Fishy tomatoes have a certain “ick” feeling to them, right?

The non-GMO marketing strategy is just that — marketing. That said, it is perfectly reasonable to be concerned about how our food is made. In this case, the fear is misplaced, but the scientific community needs to better communicate why GMOs are safe.

Inserting a single gene from a different organism is not unnatural. In fact, humans (and all species) have shared genes from a multitude of organisms in our DNA already — bacteria, viruses, fish, apes, and Neanderthals are some.

Inserting a fish gene into a tomato does not make a tomato “fishy” in the same way that humans cannot breathe underwater. We share some genes with fish, but that doesn’t make us fish. Indeed, a single gene can hardly be considered “part of” a specific organism at all.

Genes are not characteristic of organisms. An organism is characteristic of its combined genetic makeup.

Layla Katiraee at The Genetic Literacy Project has compiled an excellent list debunking common myths perpetuated by non-GMO activists, which you can read here.

Read full, original post: Frankenfood? The Real Science Behind GMOs

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.

3 thoughts on “GMO misconceptions: Tomatoes with fish genes not ‘fishy’”

  1. I’m a scientist who studied genetics, wrote on genetic engineering a long time ago, and have comprehension of the what, how and why of the technology. But I think it is unsafe overall, largely due to being a tool in the hands of highly imperfect humans, and subject to the whims of markets, greed, over-production and over-consumption for profit without true regard for the wellbeing of the planet and its inhabitants. There are enormous risks to breaking down genetic species barriers at the same time as runaway global pollution with mutagenic toxins, radiation spills, engineered viruses and other vectors that can move between species, and now adding self-replicating DNA-based nanotechnology to the mix! NOTHING stays in the lab, everything eventually escapes, changes and does its own thing regardless of our illusions of control. The future of living creatures including humans is looking weird to say the least!

  2. As someone who’s studied genetics…
    Rule of thumb…
    “Has it passed a 3-generational rat test? If no, do not eat, it’s not properly tested. If yes, see differences between test group and control group. Do you want those differences to happen to you? If “Yes” or no notable differences (especially in lifespan), eat away.

  3. How does nature deal with genetic mixes that don’t work? Natural selection. Among other things, you find out after the fact. Those of us living today are the result of that natural weeding out. Why, except for the lust for “striking the mother lode”, would anyone want to fix something that isn’t broken. That’s not to say that there isn’t value to searching for cures to disease in individual.

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