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Regulators Discover a Hidden Viral Gene In GMO Crops

Published today (January 21st) in Independent Science News:

Regulators Discover a Hidden Viral Gene In Commercial GMO Crops

by Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson


Synopsis: A scientific paper published in late 2012 shows that US and EU GMO regulators have for many years been inadvertently approving transgenic events containing an unsuspected viral gene. As a result, 54 different transgenic events commercialized internationally contain a substantial segment of the multifunctional Gene VI from Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV) within them. Among these are some of the most widely grown GMOs, including Roundup Ready Soybean (40-3-2) and MON810 Maize. The oversight occurred because regulators failed to appreciate that Gene VI overlaps the commonly used CaMV 35S gene regulatory sequence.

The authors of the paper, working for the European Food Safety Authority, concluded that functions of Gene VI were potential sources of harmful consequences. They further concluded that, if expressed, the fragments of Gene VI are substantial enough for them to be functional (Podevin and du Jardin (2012) GM Crops and Food 3: 1-5). This discovery has multiple ramifications for biotechnology. Foremost, there is the immediate question of GMO safety and whether the 54 events should be recalled, but secondly, the failure implicates regulators and the industry in a circle of mutual incompetence and complacency.
The discovery will also strengthen the argument for GMO labeling: if regulators and industry cannnot protect the public then why should they not be allowed to protect themselves?

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