One of the most difficult parts of keeping up with America’s ongoing GMO experiment is the rate at which new discoveries and developments are made, oftentimes in lucrative markets where adequate safety regulations are not present.
Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops were originally given the greenlight by then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, who visited company executives and uttered the seven infamous words, “call me, we’re in the de-reg business” in order to greenlight the company’s experimental crops and avert safety testing procedures.
Now, over 90% of key crops like soybeans, canola, cotton and corn in the United States are genetically engineered (also known as GMO for genetically modified organisms), and new experiments using the CRISPR genetic engineering technique are multiplying with each passing month, including one involving bulls, cows, and a potential assist from Monsanto’s most controversial technology of all-time.
New GMO Process at UC-Davis Aims to Turn Female Cows Male
According to a new article in MIT Technology Review, the CRISPR process is currently being used in an attempt to create so-called “Terminator” cattle at the University of California-Davis, as part of a series of projects being undertaken to change the genetic makeup of cattle as we know it.
The experiments, which seem more science fiction than reality but are 100% true, involve using CRISPR to create new types of GMO cattle to benefit the beef industry.
One experiment for example involves adding a gene called SRY to make a female turn essentially male — with a penis, testicles and bigger muscles, although the potential animal would not be capable of creating sperm. It has been applied to bovine skin cells thus far.
These genetic experiments, which also include a separate project called “Boys Only” aiming to produce only male cattle that will only father only male offspring in order to benefit the beef industry, may utilize elements of a highly controversial Monsanto technology, according to Alison Van Eenennaam, the leader of these CRISPR (GMO) projects at UC-Davis.
“It’s basically ‘terminator’ technology,” she said in the MIT article.
She went on to say that her experiments are designed to make any cattle turned male by the SRY gene become sterile so that they won’t pass any of these genes down to their offspring.
In the past, Van Eenennaam has already been successful in creating hornless cows through the gene editing process.
Her new project shares a similar premise with Monsanto’s infamous “terminator” seed technology that rendered plants sterile, and was so controversial that the company pledged to never commercialize any such sterile GMO plants and seeds in the future.
At any rate, Van Eenennaam believes that her technologies and GMO CRISPR modified cattle could make the U.S. cattle industry more efficient.
Critics of CRISPR point out that safety regulations are lacking and that the controversial technology should be far more regulated and subjected to adequate safety testing, especially since it is so open source and accessible that just about any scientist can “play God” using it on our food supply (and in other applications), including in the creation of new GMO animals.
For more information, check out the full article from MIT Technology Review by clicking on this link.
You can also read a study on CRISPR concerns (hundreds of unintended gene mutations were shown according to Columbia University scientists) by clicking on this link.