The Bacteria that Almost Ate the World

Elaine Ingham has decades of experience in microbiology, botany, plant pathology, and soil and ecology research. When a scientist of her stature warns us about the catastrophic potential genetically modified organisms, it is wise to pay close attention.

In a program she ran in the early 1990’s, she tested the ecological impacts of most of the genetically engineered organisms being produced at that time. One of the organisms she tested, a variant of Klebsiella planticola, lives in soils everywhere.  Genetic engineers took genetic material from another bacterium and inserted it into Klebsiella planticola to produce alcohol, which they though would help eliminate the burning of farm fields to rid them of plant matter after harvest -- instead, you could rake it up and it would gradually turn into an alcohol-rich material that could be used for other purposes.

But the level of alcohol that is toxic to plants is one part per million. The engineered organism produced seventeen parts per million. When she ran experiments in the lab, wherever the engineered bacterium was growing, all the plants were dead.

According to Permaculture and Regenerative Design News:

“Take that information and extrapolate it to the real world. Given that the parent organism lives in the root systems of all plants ... Very possibly, we would have no terrestrial plants left. ... [W]e need to convince members of Congress that appropriate ecological testing must be done prior to releasing GMOs into the environment. If this happens, it could help keep the problems that are already starting to occur from getting worse.”

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