The Gene Revolution and the Future of Agriculture

Man public speaking with a screen in the background

Dr Thierry VrainDr. Thierry Vrain retired 10 years ago after a long career as a soil biologist, and ended his career as head of a department of molecular biology, running his own research program to engineer nematode resistance genes in crops. In other words, he was “Pro GMO.” In his retirement career as a gardener, he learned how the soil ecosystem really functions, and has been preaching ever since. He finds himself with a good knowledge of genetic engineering technologies, surrounded by people in fear of being hurt by the food they eat. He found that he cannot ignore those people anymore and has joined the campaign to educate consumers about the potential health problems reported in the recent scientific literature.

His Ted-X talk earlier this year focused on The Gene Revolution and the Future of Agriculture. In this talk, Dr. Vrain notes that over 90% of the world’s soybean crops are engineered to be herbicide tolerant, as are 80% of the corn crops, canola, and sugar beet crops. But half of the acreage is now infested with “super weeds,” requiring the need for even stronger chemicals.

But what does that have to do with human consumption of these crops? According to Dr. Vrain, “If you eat engineered soy or corn, the transgenes will show up in your gut.” Engineered crops contain allergens and toxic proteins, and nutrition deficiencies. With continued use of the new forms of RoundUp, “The impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.”

It is interesting to hear that, according to Dr. Vrain, research paid for by the Bio-Tech industry in the US always shows the technology is completely innocuous, while research done in foreign countries, primarily Europe, by government agencies and universities, without exception shows significant problems with the technology. Well-documented studies in the European Journal of Histochemistry show that rats fed RoundUp-ready corn have damaged liver and kidneys; mice fed genetically-modified soy have damaged testicles, uterus, and ovaries.

This is one of many reasons why it is crucial to know whether the foods and the ingredients used in the processed foods we buy have been genetically modified. We need to be able to make choices for our own health, not just blindly trusting manufacturers. Coho Restaurant has always tried to source as much as possible from San Juan Islands and sustainably farmed producers, because we care about what we eat, and what we’re doing to the environment.

Dr. Vrain admits that he doesn’t know exactly what the future of agriculture will bring, but at this point it looks pretty scary. This fall, WA state voters will have the opportunity to tell food producers and manufacturers we want to know what’s going into our food, with Initiative 522. For heavens sake – and for our own sakes – vote YES on 522. Yes on 522 logo-horiz


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