How can unregulated genetically engineering research lead to dangerous public health repercussions?
A recent study found that common viral parasites can act as secret conduits to transfer toxic and disease-causing genes from one bacteria species to an unrelated bacteria species. One serious public health concern from this discovery is the possibility that new emerging disease could develop through this viral method of DNA exchange between bacterial species. It also raises a red flag regarding public health and safety in genetic engineering (GE) research where all kinds of toxic and disease genes are cloned into bacteria used in plant and animal research. These GE genes could then possibly be transferred to other bacteria via a natural virus causing new emerging disease to humans and animals.
In the study noted above, scientists found that Staph aureus, a bacteria which is often associated with community and hospital acquired methicillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA) transferred its toxic shock genes to an unrelated bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes via a common virus called a bacteriophage. Listeria, itself, can cause a potentially deadly form of food poisoning while Staph can cause life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, osteomyelitis, endocarditis, toxic shock syndrome and septicemia. The relatively high DNA transfer efficiency from Staph to Listeria suggests that other cases may very well exist in nature. This can have a major impact on human pathogenicity and new emerging disease. It also carries implications to tighten safety regulations upon the genetic engineering industry.
As mysterious chronic illness rises in our population, scientists and private industry remain to be unregulated in performing dangerous genetically engineered research. This unregulated research carries serious public health consequences and can create new emerging disease. The public should become better informed about this dangerous research, the unsafe work practices, and the lack of rights to scientists to file safety complaints.