Dr. Savage: RNAi mechanism is common, natural

The mechanism by which we introduce the nonbrowning trait into Arctic® apples is called RNA-interference (RNAi), and as Dr. Steve Savage explains, it’s a common, natural means of gene regulation.

Unfortunately, some anti-GMO’ers have a habit of using misleading statements to make any biotech-enhanced product sound scary. A longtime director with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group that has a prolonged history of opposing ag-biotech, Dr. Margaret Mellon recently published an Op-Ed that suggests the use of RNAi raises potential safety concerns.

For an overview of Dr. Mellon’s critiques of ag-biotech, we recommend checking out the recording of a recent GMO debate in which she participated. Hosted by Intelligence Squared, the pre-debate audience poll showed 32% support GMOs, 30% oppose them, and 38% of the audience was undecided. Post-debate demonstrated the facts speak for themselves with 60% of the audience in support of GMOs, 31% against while 9% remained undecided.

To address Mellon’s recent comments on RNAi specifically, though, agricultural scientist and professional speaker Dr. Steve Savage provides a strong, science-based rebuttal on his blog Applied Mythology titled “A Misplaced Concern About An Apple”. Also shared by Biofortified, Science 2.0, Genetic Literacy Project and others, Dr. Savage’s post explains:

  • “RNAi is a common, natural means of genetic regulation in plants, animals, insects and many other groups”
  • “this class of technology is not new in the sense that are already several commercial, biotech crops which employ the RNAi mechanism”
  • “When we eat foods based on plants and animals, we are eating a huge number of different RNA molecules that function by the process we call RNAi”

And, perhaps the line that sums things up best of all: “There is no reason to believe that an RNA that interacts with a gene for a browning enzyme would be somehow different so that it would represent a greater risk than the thousands of other small RNAs in our diets.”

Be sure to check out the full article for a more comprehensive explanation!

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