Biologist Máximo Sandín is the former Biology Department professor at the Independent University of Madrid. Dr. Sandín is the author of We are Virus and Bacteria as well as many other publications.
“I believe that some (rather many) of the activities of the “biotechnology” or “bioengineering” companies are becoming ever more dangerous each day because their practices seem to be completely behind the back of present scientific knowledge.
Their pretensions to change “genes” voluntarily, or to modify or interfere in the natural phenomena, are based on a declining conception that does not genetically consider the ecology. These genetically modified genomes are very unstable due to the way they are obtained. For that reason, the genes are transferred to the modified or transgenic organisms that produce a permanent biological contamination in the ecosystems whose effects are unforeseeable.
On land, communities of associated bacteria and viruses (bacteriophages or “phages”) plentifully exist in the ecosystem for the purification of the fresh water, degradation of toxic substances, waste product recycling, CO2 production, and nitrogen fixation in plants. These communities genetically exchange information by means of plasmids and viruses. The viruses control the bacterial population. For that reason, the altered transgenic genes can cross to other organisms in the ecosystem. This practice has been repeatedly denounced by prestigious and independent scientists, although the mass media does not report this.
The populations of bacterial and viral communities in the oceans are spectacular. It has been determined that there are one million bacteria and ten million viruses per milliliter; however, for some scientists these figures are conservative.
Their functions are of equal importance for the marine ecosystems. They are in the base of the trophic pyramid for the control of microorganism populations, in the degradation of ocean waste, in the photosynthesis and respiration of the ocean, and the CO2 interchange with the atmosphere, including the formation of clouds.
We now have news on the methods to fight against the petroleum flow in the Gulf of Mexico. The suspicions that they have been using bacteria with “synthetic” or genetically modified genomes are very founded if we consider that the megalomaniac Craig Venter is involved.
What is being observed is not so much that the “synthetic microbes” produce “mutations” in the natural microorganisms, because that phenomenon is more of a localized problem. The true problem is that the horizontal transference of these modified genes between marine microorganisms is taking place, and that would be a “permanent biological contamination” of the ocean where the medium and long term effects cannot be predicted; but with complete certainty this will be a serious danger for the marine ecosystem in every area. I guess I will have to hope, but if these crazy activities go unchecked, we will end up confronting a problem for which we cannot find a solution.”