- Gene edited human embryos were a disaster, and yet governments ignore the obvious and endanger us all - Jeffrey Smith
Transcription: Gene Edited Human Embryos Were a Disaster, and Yet Governments Ignore the Obvious and Endanger Us All
On June 16th, a report came out about a completely botched attempt to genetically engineer human embryos scientists at the Francis Crick Institute in the UK used the CRISPR gene editing tool to edit human embryos and found that half of the edited embryos contained major unintended edits, deletions, or additions or scrambling of the DNA right next to the edited gene. CRISPR basically finds a sequence in the DNA that it’s looking for and cuts in that sequence to create a particular effect. There’s on target and off target mistakes on target mistakes is what they were looking for here. And it’s not even something that people are concerned about because they assume that if it cuts in the right area, it will perform correctly, but in this case, it didn’t. Off target means that it started to cut in other places. It misinterpreted the instructions. Weren’t found similar sequences in other parts of the DNA and continued to cut there as well.
But in this case, the problems were at the point of intended changes. And it was so significant that one professor at the UC Berkeley said, “There’s no sugar coating this. This is a restraining order for all genome editors to stay the living daylights away from embryo editing.” It’s very interesting how strong the condemnation was for using CRISPR at this point, even though, the Chinese scientist had used CRISPR to edit human embryos and then implant them into a woman and then actually gave birth to twins. I think it was triplets too, but the twins had gene altered DNA here. They’re saying we’re nowhere near where we need to be. One person said that, “There’s clear evidence of additional on target risks leads even more support to the countervailing views of many scientists. That genome editing is not safe for inheriting in human species.”
I love what the restraining order what Kiran Musunuru, a cardiologist from the university of Pennsylvania who actually uses CRISPR in his lab to research potential heart disease therapies. He said, “Nobody has any business using genome editing to try to make modifications in the germline.” Meaning it can be inherited, “We are nowhere close to having the scientific ability to do this in a safe way.” When this happens to human embryos, people are up in arms. But what about when it happens to plants? What happens if we use CRISPR or other gene editing techniques and change the sequence of a plant that we eat or that we grow, and that becomes inherited and a permanent part of nature’s gene pool?
Also this year, there was a recent study of rice plants, which we’ll go into in just a minute. It showed very similar changes that were completely unpredicted when they genetically engineered or gene edited the rise plant. Now what’s maddening is that the regulators are receiving the exact opposite information from a very well paid and well-organized lobbying effort by the biotech industry. This resulted in the Trump administration, creating a new policy for the USDA, (announced in mid-May) that most GMOs, including the gene edited ones will receive no oversight by the agency. They refused just to even require developers to tell the agency, if the companies were producing products that the producers believed did not need regulations, which means the government and the public, no idea what products will enter the market.
So gene edited foods and gene edited grass and trees, etc., can come into the marketplace now without us knowing, and it’s not just United States. Australia has already passed its laws regarding some gene edited products. The UK have been part of the EU regulation, but now there is an effort to try and push gene editing and redefine GMOs so it doesn’t include gene editing. It didn’t pass a discussion in parliament, so a group is trying to introduce it as an amendment to the agriculture bill without a full discussion of the parliament. This has raised a concern and letters by professors and the public, which may have given the government pause to do it, but they’re still lobbying one after the other. Lords in the upper parliament are coming to the rescue of the biotech industry saying things like this on gene editing.
“Again, the government agree that the EU approach is unscientific. We are committed to adopting a more scientific approach to regulation in the future.” This is like George Orwell’s 1984 Newspeak where the government simply lies blatantly. For those of us who know the truth, it’s maddening not only that, but it actually may be one of the most dangerous denials in history because we’re talking about altering the gene pool where the technology whose most common result is surprise side effects, and once incorporated into the gene pool, it’s irreversible. We have no technology to clean it up. Even a faction of the Green Party in Germany called for the deregulation of gene editing. Although the European Parliament Greens immediately came in and said no way, the European Commission asked the European Food Safety Authority, for an opinion on gene editing, it was actually a group that was pro-GMO that wanted to give a present to the biotech industry.
And so they asked the very pro GMO European food safety authority whose current opinion is that gene editing is safe and predictable. Now, how is it that they can think that it’s so safe and predictable and professors like Dr. Michael Antonio Professor Vivian Howard describe the efforts to deregulate gene editing as absolutely unacceptable and dangerous. Let’s just review the articles that came out this year, so that you’re armed with the truth and understand far more than the regulators or the Lords in parliament etc. On the 6th of January, there was an article that came out saying that a new tool that rapidly analyzes CRISPR edits reveals frequent unintended edits. So this tool in just 48 hours can identify multiple outcomes of the gene editing process called CRISPR.
A process that normally takes up to two months and is very expensive and complicated in order to see what actually happened in CRISPR. Most people never actually review what happens in their gene edited organism, they simply use an algorithm from a computer to predict what changes occur. We’ve known from other studies that those computer algorithms are false. So in this case, with this new fast assay, they found that they focused on the, on target changes and found that there was a lot of changes there that were completely unidentifiable using the standard reviews that were done by scientists. On January 11th, an article came out and researchers assumed CRISPR mediated disruption of genes was turning them off, but they were wrong. CRISPR is used to knock out genes. You cut a particular gene and you knock out its function and you assume that because that’s what everyone else is doing,
yours are doing the same thing. It turns out one-third of the gene knockouts that were done in this study, didn’t knock it out at all. And in some cases they change the structure of the sequence so that the protein that was produced was different than intended, which could be an allergen or a toxin. And what’s interesting is that the mushroom that was so-called approved by the USDA, meaning that the USDA turned away and said we don’t have to approve it. That was created with this CRISPR knockout technique and might be creating allergens or toxins. Fortunately, as far as we know, it was not yet introduced into the food supply, but it may be at any time. On February 22nd, another article, yet more problems with CRISPR, with consequences, for food safety. When they use the CRISPR CAS system in mice, they found that there were multiple copies of the DNA that they were trying to insert came into the mouse genome.
What’s interesting is because there were multiple copies. If you use the standard technique to see if the insertion was successful technique called PCR, you wouldn’t be able to tell you had to use a more sophisticated method. And by inserting multiple copies, again, it could result in misshapen proteins that could be allergenic or toxic or carcinogenic. There’s an April 2nd article, Scientists Surprised to Find that CRISPR Editing Tool is Not as Precise as Previously Claimed. They were checking a more advanced or so-called more advanced CRISPR, not the CRISPR CAS nine, which would most people do, but the CRISPR cast 12, eight or the CPF one doesn’t matter what the names are, but they were believed to be more precise and less prone to make off target cuts, meaning cuts that were outside the area that you wanted to. And it turns out when they checked it, it made single strand cuts or Nicks up and down the DNA, and also double stranded cuts.
It clearly mistook different locations for the target location. And again, the computer programs that are generally used to predict these would be unlikely to pick up the actual mutations, the actual changes. And now we’d come to the article that came out this month on CRISPR edited gene edited rice. On June 9th. It was reported that a wide range of undesirable and unintended off target and on target mutations occurred when they edited rice to increase the yield. Now, in this case, when you use gene editing, you typically put in the tools of the gene editing. So it remains in the plant and it actually can be inherited by the next generation. They put in a stable CRISPR editing tool that continued to work over four generations so they can examine the effect over time. So this is one aspect we’ve talked about in my interview with Jonathan Latham, where what you test for, let’s say in the results of gene editing right after you’ve done the editing.
And then let’s say you use that cell line a year later. By the time you use it, there may be a lot of other changes because it’s actively editing over time. So what they did is in this rice study is they tried to knock out a particular gene. However, what they found was there was large insertions, deletions and rearrangements of DNA, essentially a scrambling, and this could change the function of gene other then the one that they were targeting. This is very similar to the human embryo experiments that we talked about in the beginning. Dr. Michael Antonio said that the consequent of health risks of creating an allergen or a toxin is very real and the yield was not increased, in fact, it was reduced. The authors of the paper Warren, and contrast this to the UK government, the European in Food Safety Authority, the U S government, they said, “CRISPR may be not as precise as expected in rice and that early and accurate molecular characterization and screening must be carried out for generations before transitioning of CRISPR cast system from lab to field. Understanding of uncertainties and risks regarding editing is necessary and critical before a new global policy for the new biotechnology is established.”
So that’s exactly the opposite of what the governments are doing. And it’s interesting that sometimes in order to convince governments, the scientists will put blinders on and just talk about one aspect of gene editing, like its ability to be more precise in where it does the cuts than the old version, where you would simply blast genes in with a gene gun or use bacteria to smuggle the genes into the genome. But it turns out that there are many unintended effects that they’re not counting. And also the process of growing those cells into plants, tissue culture creates an enormous number of mutations. There was a study that was done in 2018, where they showed for rice that there were 200 mutations as a result of just tissue culture on average. Whereas the naturally bred rice had 30 to 50 spontaneous mutations. Now you can count mutations and say, yes, the genetic engineering process, whether it’s traditional or gene editing creates more mutations in that’s true, but simply counting them is not going to be sufficient.
You need to do a detailed molecular characterization to find out what they’re actually doing. What have you changed? Have you increase the production of a carcinogen? Have you increased the production of a toxin? Have you disabled something that was quite important? Have you done animal feeding studies to see the biological effects of consuming genetic plants over time? No, what they’ve done is they’ve assumed that it’s safe and convinced regulators to have a complete hands-off policy. Because gene editing is so inexpensive, we may see massive introduction of gene edited organisms into the environment over this generation. They can permanently corrupt the gene pool. So we’re talking about replacing nature. If you go to www.protectnaturenow.com, you’ll see a three minute video, which sounds the alarm about the possibility that in this generation, we may be replacing nature and we need to do something. And the Institute for Responsible Technology is stepping up.
And part of it is simply to share the science. If you’ve gotten this far, then you’re interested in the deep science and the understanding so that you have the ammo, so to speak, to say clearly that the government is wrong. Just say clearly that the lobbyists are either lying or that they’ve been lied to by the people that hired them. But it’s all based on the lies. And that puts us at an unprecedented risk, which we believe is an existential risk given the capacity of harm of genetic engineering. So please share this, talk to others about it, give them the truth. Let them know that the governments are using lobbying lies to create regulations. That could be a disaster for this and future generations. And also if you’re not yet already a subscriber to the Institute for Responsible Technology, you can go over to www.protectnaturenow.com and take a look at the three minute video and subscribe. We’ll be sharing some plans soon to help protect nature from this massive potential replacement.