“Regulators Discover a Hidden Viral Gene in Commercial GMO crops”

"CAULIFLOWER MOSAIC VIRUS"Source: Independent Science News
“CAULIFLOWER MOSAIC VIRUS”
Source: Independent Science News

European Food Safety Authority has discovered a “hidden viral gene” in genetically modified crops, according to an article published in Independent Science News.  This report by John Latham and Allison Wilson opens with a question:

“How should a regulatory agency announce they have discovered something potentially very important about the safety of products they have been approving for over twenty years?”

I just read an article at Phys.org this morning, stating that, “EU freezes approval of GM crops to 2014.”   Now, I understand why the EU has found this to be necessary.  The Phys.org article hadn’t explained why the GMO freeze was implemented, but concluded by stating:

“Some 50 different genetically modified crops for animal consumption have been approved for use in the EU.”

Several studies are sited in the Independent Science News report, leading its authors to write:

“This finding has serious ramifications for crop biotechnology and its regulation, but possibly even greater ones for consumers and farmers. This is because there are clear indications that this viral gene (called Gene VI) might not be safe for human consumption. It also may disturb the normal functioning of crops, including their natural pest resistance.”

The article states that these are big lessons for biotechnology:

“It is perhaps the most basic assumption in all of risk assessment that the developer of a new product provides regulators with accurate information about what is being assessed. Perhaps the next most basic assumption is that regulators independently verify this information.  We now know, however, that for over twenty years neither of those simple expectations have been met. Major public universities, biotech multinationals, and government regulators everywhere, seemingly did not appreciate the relatively simple possibility that the DNA constructs they were responsible for encoded a viral gene.”

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