Purple tomatoes, a transgenic plant enriched in antioxidants, could have a preventive effect on cancer, but this is still under investigation, said Dr. José Miguel Mulet Salort, head of the Biotechnology Department of the Polytechnic University of Valencia.
This was announced in his conference ‘Transgenics without fear’, which dictated at the Ibero-American University of Mexico at the invitation of the Department of Chemical, Industrial and Food Engineering of this house of studies.
Although at present there are sectors of society that are afraid of the consumption of GMOs, these have been produced in the field for 20 years, and “we have not had any health problems, nor any environmental problems”; because technology for the development of genetically modified (transgenic) organisms is being researched and controlled.
One of the first transgenics that came to market, to avoid its shortage due to an epidemic that was about to make all production in Hawaii was lost, was Papaya. And nowadays the world is full of transgenics: 83% of the world soybean is transgenic, 75% of the cotton and 25% of the corn; In fact, 33% of this grain consumed in Mexico comes from the United States, and it is transgenic.
Mulet mentioned that “the majority of transgenic developments in the consumer market do not care”, as they may have a herbicide-tolerant or insect-tolerant corn in front of them, and consumers only see a corn that is the same. color, taste and smell that one organic.
On the opposition to the transgenics the researcher clarified that there are versions that say that in Europe they are prohibited, but this is false. Indeed, some European nations have applied a moratorium to plant GM crops, which basically have been implemented by France, Hungary and Austria; nations that, on the contrary, are importing 81 varieties of transgenics. In as much as Spain continues seeding transgenics; as well as Portugal, Slovakia and Poland, although these countries very little.
In addition, “in 20 years there has only been one transgenic one whose license has been removed, and it was a transgenic beet that had been authorized in the United States”; because in a certain area of this country it was found that there was a wild beet with which it could hybridize the transgenic, “and one of the premises to authorize a transgenic is that it can not hybridize with any wild species.”
What are transgenics ?
Dr. Mulet Salot, who is currently studying proteins that help optimize the use of water, to make plants tolerant to drought, explained briefly that developing transgenics “is as easy as taking a gene from one site and putting it in another. You copy a gene and put it somewhere else. ”
“The definition of transgenic tells you that you have to have a gene from another organism, but that you have to have gotten through genetic engineering methods; that excludes all natural transgenics. ”
However, genetically modified organisms are an invention of nature, which “takes millions of years of advantage” to what researchers do in the laboratory.
“The exchange of genes in different species is a phenomenon well known to people who study evolution, in fact it has even a name, it’s called horizontal transfer.”
In fact, genetic engineering, gene switching, is an absolutely natural process, he said. “Look at the trees, especially when the winter is over, in the spring, you see that in the area near the root there, at the base, where the contact with the earth is, they look like lumps; these bulges happen because when it’s cold there are wounds and those wounds there is a bacterium that lives in the soil, that enters and infects.
When that bacterium infects a tree, what it does is put a piece of DNA in the genome of the tree, so the tree is already transgenic because it incorporates genes from the bacteria, and those genes that the bacterium incorporates what they do is that it produces some hormones, that the tree in response to those hormones begins to grow, creates the famous lump; tumors in the tree. And why does the bacteria do that, because with those tumors it is where they colonize, where they live and where they reproduce.