>Heather Koshinsky, Ph.D


>Genetically Modified Organisms: What's Next?


>Dr. Heather Koshinsky is the Chief Executive Officer of Investigen, a

>biotech company designing groundbreaking molecular diagnostic tools to

>provide cost-effective tests to detect microorganisms for food and water

>safety, and labeling of genetically modified organisms for the industrial,

>environmental microbiology, bio-defense, and agro terrorism industries.

>Investigen is located in Hercules, CA (visit www.investigen.com).


>Heather will describe the current range of GMO products and the testing

>requirements in the US, and the ongoing labeling battle between the US

>and the EU. She will also give us a glimpse of what the next generation

>of GMO products might be, and how they may affect our lives.



Dr. Heather Koshinsky began her talk by explaining that we have almost certainly all eaten GMOs. At this point in time two-thirds of the soybeans and a quarter of the corn in our diets were knowingly planted as GMOs. Even if you try and avoid them by eating things packaged as GMO free, isolation procedures are rudimentary enough that it is doubtful these crops were never stored with GMO crops. She gave the example of starlink corn, which had accidentally been made into tortillas, even though the corn was a GMO that was not rated for human consumption. It had simply gotten into our food supply because accidents happen.

Dr. Koshinsky then explained there are currently about 40 crops with a significant level of genetic modification in them. The list she showed us included broccoli, corn, soybeans, carnations, and many many other things. Crops are already modified to improve many different characteristics including shelf life, resistance to crop sprays, higher nutrition content, improve tolerance to poor soil, better yields and many other things. She predicted that the list of such crops will grow steadily for a long time.

There are large risks associated with GMOs. For example, scientists are designing a kind of salmon to be farmed that grow three times as fast as wild salmon. One problem with them is that 90% of the males are sterile. If one of those escaped and then paired up with a female, her eggs would not hatch. Our salmon runs are already thin enough that this kind of devious treachery could extinct yet another run or two. Another risk was discovered by farmers who have been sued for letting their non-GMO corn be fertilized by wind blown pollen from GMO fields. Not only was their heritage crop prevented from breeding true, but legal bills turned out to be something else.

There are currently three federal agencies that are in charge of regulating GMOs. The EPA, FDA, and USDA. The EPA has oversight of pesticides and herbicides, so GMOs with those bred into them need EPA approval. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has control over food packaging, so anything that affects labeling has to go through them. Despite the confusion associated with three federal bureaucracies, the government has managed to keep our food supply quite safe for a very long time. This is one reason that Americans have less trouble eating GMOs than Europeans or Japanese.

At the moment products destined for the EU or Japan have to be GMO free. Investigen does chemical testing on samples from shipments to guarantee this. The Japanese in particular are always pushing for zero GMO content, even though current testing can only detect .5% levels. Dr. Koshinsky said they have even refused delivery of large shipments when their arrival inspection showed evidence of GMOs.

Tian Harter

Top 18 Signs Genetically Modified Food Has Been Taken Too Far:

By Jess

1 hops into your cart at the market

2 Your leftovers are having Gladitorial battles in your fridge

3 Talking potatoes tell you when they're done

4 You spot telltale signs of a nervous system in your jello.

5 Your Thanksgiving turkeys has 6 drumsticks.

6 The black-eyed pea on your fork just winked at you.

7 Your hot dog just fetched its own ketchup and relish

8 Grocery store has 25 pound bananas on sale

9 Are potatos supposed to glow in the dark

10 Dole starts selling Bananas In Pajamas

11 Sandwich will not open if mustard not French's

12 You can't tell if it's a tomato or a bananna

13 In Soviet Russia genemod food eats you

14 the entire world population is overweight