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Nature evades the best efforts of GMOs

Thursday, June 28, 2012 by: Willa Anderson
Tags: GMOs, nature, resistance

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(NaturalNews) While many of the plants are modified to increase crop yield, it is hardly the main change that has been made to the genetic structures of the plants over the practice's thirty year history. Often industry leaders try to present genetic modification as being in the line of defense against "global food shortages," but their primary use is in increasing the profitability of agricultural giants, such as Monsanto.

A brief wine menu of GMO practices

One of the more well-publicized "edits" that biotechnology companies have proliferated is herbicide-resistant plants. Instead of competing for nutrients and space, large fields, which cannot realistically be weeded, could survive being sprayed with herbicides. The unprotected weeds between the crops would succumb to the toxins. Monsanto started producing herbicide resistant variations of corn, soybeans, cotton and other mass food staples.

The other widely applied change was the integration of toxins into the body of the plant, to protect them against insect infestation.

In the 1990s, Hawaiian and Florida papaya crops were stricken with a ring spot virus. By 1998, the entire industry had been decimated, and a GMO papaya, with genetic matter from the virus, much like a vaccine, was released into the market.

Natural selection by unnatural means

But, as with any biological spectrum, there is variation in the pathogenic organism that gives some individual organisms a competitive edge over others. Organisms that receive a less than lethal dose can, and very often will, produce progeny that demonstrate acclimation to the toxins.

And according to research from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which actually received funding from Monsanto and several major players in the cotton industry, the developing resistance of pink bollworms to the toxins is progressing much faster than anticipated, and in ways that are worrying to the GMO industry.

Like trying to put out an oil fire with water

The transgenetic cotton has been saddled with a bacteria toxin from Bacillus thuringiensis, giving it its name "Bt cotton." After the Bt cotton was introduced with great success in India, the pink bollworm became resistant to the crop in just nine years. In Arizona, the population of moth larva is still susceptible after 15 years, but the genetic adaptations are demonstrating how easily the odds could topple in favor of the pests. The research is giving a first glance into just how these organisms are becoming toxin-resistant.

Individual genes are made up of a recessive and non-recessive gene, called alleles. If one is damaged, the other supplies a spare set of blueprints. Researchers were surprised to find that, in specimens that were selected from the GMO crop fields, pink bollworms could achieve Bt resistance with only a single allele mutation.

Not only have the insects survived, but at least three genetically stable variations have been documented to date. The beginnings of resistance has been seen in several different allele pairs. From the samples they've studied, the researchers estimate that between 59 and 94 percent of bollworms with any resistance had at least one non-recessive gene that was adapted for Bt resistance.

Sources for this article include

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/06/06/1200156109

http://www.gmo-compass.org

http://www.isciencetimes.com

http://www.landesbioscience.com/journals/gmcrops/TabashnikGMC3-3.pdf

About the author:
Willa is a health researcher who has been dedicated to promoting awareness of natural healing for over 10 years, with a keen interest in herbal medicines and natural parenting. Feel free to contact her with any questions or concerns.
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