Genetic Ignorance




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- Thomas Edison

Cancer is a political problem more than it is a medical problem.

"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food," said Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications. "Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job." 
- New York Times, October 25, 1998

"What the FDA is doing and what the public thinks it's doing are as different as night and day." - Dr. Herbert Ley, Former FDA Commissioner

"The FDA serves as the pharmaceutical industry's watchdog, which can be called upon to attack and destroy a potential competitor under the guise of protecting the public." - Dr. James P. Carter  


Biotechnology gives the impression that it knows what it is doing when manipulating genes. In reality the opposite is the case. Here is an excerpt from the article "A review of deficiencies in present knowledge about the effects and consequences of GE of food" URL

Scientific knowledge about the effects of genetic engineering of food is far too incomplete to enable safe application of the technology:
  • The knowledge about DNA is very incomplete. It is completely insufficient for an understanding and prediction of the effects of genetic manipulations. Important, presently unpredictable and unimaginable complications involving environmental as well as health effects of GE organisms cannot be excluded.
  • Molecular biology predicts that unexpected, and in the worst case harmful, substances may appear due to GE. This prediction has been supported by experimental observations. There is not enough knowledge to estimate the risk for the appearance of harmful substances. It cannot be excluded that the risk is of a significant magnitude, meaning that present exposure of people to GE food without adequate safety testing, may sooner or later cause a large scale disaster.
  • There is not enough knowledge about the environmental safety of GE crops or any other GE organism especially in a long term perspective. But there are a number of observations indicating the possibility of harmful and irreversible ecological damage, in the worst case at a large scale.
For these reasons, we don't find commercial application of gene technology for food production responsible and justifiable. Especially so as present GE crops and foods are of very limited, if any, value to mankind. Neither do we find any release of GE organisms into nature responsible and justifiable.

Illustrative quotes about present state of ignorance about DNA

"We know far less than one per cent of what will be known about
biology, human physiology, and medicine.

My view of biology is 'We don't know shit.' "

Dr. J. Craig Venter, Time's Scientist of the year (2000). President of the Celera Corporation. Dr. Venter is recognized as one of the two most important scientists in the worldwide effort to map the human genome. Source: "The Genome Warrior", The New Yorker Magazine, June 12, 2000.

and another:

"These findings demonstrate the fragmentary nature of current knowledge of genome structure and function and regulation of gene expression in general, and the limited understanding of several physiological, ecological, agronomical and toxicological aspects relevant to present-day and planned genetic modifications of crops."
Visser, A. J. C.; Nijhuis, E. H.; Elsas, J. D. van; Dueck, T. A. "Crops of uncertain nature? Controversies and Knowledge Gaps Concerning Genetically Modified Crops. An Inventory. "Plant Research International (No. 12, 2000) 70 pp.


At 07:42 2001-03-31, Hank wrote:

>Dear All,

     Please excuse my ignorance, but is genetic engineering of food always bad? Providing Vitamin A where it is badly needed through rice sounds like a good idea. Please help me understand. I'm pretty well informed generally, but science is not my strength (so keep it simple please).
Hank Schouten, Portland, Oregon USA

Dear Hank,

Please go to the website of Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology (PSRAST) for an impartial scientific explanation of the GE food issue. For an introduction, you could begin with "Do genetically engineered foods provide any benefits?" at

It is very obvious that the present use and release of GE foods is irresponsible. The reason is that there are huge deficiencies in the knowledge about DNA, the effects of genetic engineering on organisms, the environmental consequences as well as the food safety of GE foods. In short, we know far to little to be able to justify the release of GE organisms today. It cannot be excluded that this technology may cause irreparable damage to the environment and may be hazardous to human health. It will take decades until we know if this technology is safe and useful.

Their commercial exploitation is highly premature. It has not been dictated by concerns for the well-being of mankind by the short term interests of the biotech industry that has invested billions in the technology since decades and has been pressing hard and unfortunately successfully to make governments to approve their products.

If you are still skeptical, read "Misleading arguments commonly used by biotech advocates" at and "PR strategies used to manipulate opinions about GE foods" at


Jaan Suurkula M.D.
Chairman of PSRAST

Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology (PSRAST)

A Global Network for impartial interdisciplinary evaluation of the safety and value of new technologies

Fax: +1-(703)-783-7231 (USA) +46 322 620944 (Europe)
Tel: +46-322-622966
Address: Forsetev 10, 182 67 Djursholm, Sweden.


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