In February, a senior scientist at the United States Department of Agriculture, Don Huber, sent an emergency warning to US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, regarding a new plant pathogen found in Roundup Ready GM soybean and corn.
The pathogen, which is ‘new to science’, may be responsible for high rates (around 20%) of infertility and spontaneous abortions in livestock (as high as 45%) [1, 2], as well a whole array of other environmental problems, such as serious pervasive diseases in plants. Huber argued that it should be treated as an emergency, because it could result in a collapse of US soy and corn export markets, as well as disruption of domestic food and animal feed supplies.
The letter appeared to have been written before Vilsack announced his decision to authorise unrestricted commercial planting of GM alfalfa on 1st February, in order to convince the Secretary of Agriculture to impose a moratorium on Roundup Ready (RR) crops, instead of deregulation. Huber wrote in the letter that he has been studying plant pathogens for more than 50 years and that scientists are now seeing an unprecedented trend of increases in diseases and disorders in plants and animals, meaning this pathogen may be key to understanding this trend and solving the problem.
This could be the worst problem yet to be seen with genetic engineering. Scientists have been warning for years [3, 4] about the unintended creation of new pathogens through assisted horizontal gene transfer and recombination.