(NaturalNews) In the face of a growing public sentiment against genetically engineered (GE) crops, the biotechnology industry is pursuing a new strategy: Claiming that new GE technologies are so different from older ones that products produced using them should not be classified as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The industry is now using these techniques to introduce traits like herbicide resistance, pest resistance and altered nutritional content into crops intended for human consumption.
The industry claims that the so-called New Plant Breeding Techniques are essentially the same as conventional breeding, are highly precise, and are unlikely to produce unintended consequences. All these claims were initially made about first-generation genetic engineering, and they are just as false now as they were then.
“You don’t have to delve too deep to find that – as in the case of traditional genetic engineering – industry claims simply don’t stand up to scrutiny,” wrote Friends of the Earth Australia on July 17.
New techniques, old lies
What are the second-generation GE techniques being passed off as New Plant Breeding Techniques? The most popular ones include:
Cell fusion: Creating hybrid cells by fusing the cells from two separate plants, thereby combining their genomes.
Cisgenics and intragenisis: Introducing DNA from the same or a closely related species into the genome of the target organism.
Nuclease-mediated site-directed mutagenesis: Using enzymes to cut DNA at targeted parts of the genome in order to delete genes or replace them with other genes (from the same or another species). Nuclease-mediated techniques may use clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 nucleases, transcription activator-like nucleases (TALEN) or zinc-finger nucleases (ZFN).