Home > In Focus > Gene Edited Foods are GMOs: New Research establishes that Gene editing is not “natural”, that it can be tested, and should be regulated for Biosafety as a GMO

Press Statement by Dr Vandana Shiva, 7 September 2020

Research Foundation for Science Technology and Ecology

New GMOs which are gene edited are being rushed to the market on the claim that they are “natural” on the grounds that the editing of genes cannot be tested.

A new paper published today[1], 7 September, has obliterated that claim, using a highly sensitive and highly accurate quantitative test for the first commercialised gene edited crop: SU Canola.

This is the first open source detection test for a gene-edited GM crop.

New gene edited GMOs are being introduced to cover up the failure of old GMOs – the failure of Bt cotton to control pests and the failure of Roundup Ready crops to control weeds. Instead, industrial agriculture is now faced with the unmanageable problem of superpests and superweeds. They are also aimed at creating a new narrative for genetic engineering while maintaining the genetic determinism and genetic reductionism paradigm on which genetic engineering is based. They extend the illusion of mechanistic determinism in the attempt to “engineer” complex, living, self organised systems. They are also an attempt to bypass GMO regulation.

Bill Gates is funding new GMO technologies, including gene editing and gene drives and has made investments in Editas, a company that controls patents on the new GMO technologies. Along with DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projets Agency), he is promoting the use of gene drives for deliberate extinction of species.

In the Foreign Affairs issue of May/June 2018 an article “Gene Editing for Good: How CRISPR Could Transform Global Development”, Bill Gates argues that massive investments are necessary to support gene editing for “accelerating research that could help end extreme poverty by enabling millions of farmers in the developing world to grow crops and raise livestock that are more productive, more nutritious, and hardier”[2].

Similar Claims were made about the old GMOs. The failure of Bt Cotton is now recognised by the scientific community.

The European Court of Justice on 25th July 2018 had ruled that CRISPR is a gene modification technology and needs to be regulated like all GMOs.

“In today’s judgment, the Court of Justice takes the view, first of all, that organisms obtained by mutagenesis are GMOs within the meaning of the GMO Directive, in so far as the techniques and methods of mutagenesis alter the genetic material of an organism in a way that does not occur naturally. It follows that those organisms come, in principle, within the scope of the GMO Directive and are subject to the obligations laid down by that directive”[3]. Gene-Edited Products Now Classified as GMOs in European Union.

[1] Chhalliyil, P.; Ilves, H.; Kazakov, S.A.; Howard, S.J.; Johnston, B.H.; Fagan, J. A Real-Time Quantitative PCR Method Specific for Detection and Quantification of the First Commercialized Genome-Edited Plant. Foods 2020, 9, 1245. https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/9/9/1245

[2] Wray, Adam . “How To Prepare Your Company For The Internet Of Things.” Forbes Technology Council Editors. Last modified February 14, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2017/02/14/how-to-prepare-your-company-for-the-internet-of-things/.

[3] https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2018-07/cp180111en.pdf