- Horizontal gene transfer is
responsible for creating new viral and bacterial pathogens and for
spreading drug and antibiotic resistance
- Experimental evidence of
horizontal gene transfers, some between very distant species, has
been obtained in all natural environments and in the gut. Thesewere
all accomplished with artificially constructed vectors used in
- Genetic engineering makes
extensive use of antibiotic resistance genes as selectable markers,
thereby increasing the spread of antibiotic resistance genes.
- Antibiotics increases the
frequency of horizontal gene transfer 10 to 10000 fold, thereby
enhancing the spread of disease-causing genes as well as antibiotic
- Genetically ‘crippled’
strains of bacteria, supposed to be ‘biological contained’,
are nevertheless found to survive in the environment, and to swap
genes with other bacteria.
- DNA released from dead as
well as live cells are not entirely broken down in the environment,
nor in the gut, where it may be taken up and incorporated into the
genomes of bacteria.
- DNA from viruses is more
infectious than the intact virus itself.
- Routine chemical
inactivation of genetically engineered microorganisms prior to
disposal in the general environment may be ineffective, leaving a
substantial proportion of viruses and bacteria in an infective
- Current legal limits of ‘tolerated
releases’ of genetically engineered microorganisms from
contained use vastly exceed the minimal infective dose of pathogens
and potential pathogens.
- Non-pathogens are
transformed into pathogens by horizontal gene transfer of unit
blocks of virulence genes.
- Horizontal gene transfers
are bi-directional. Released non-pathogens can be readily converted
into pathogens in one step, by acquiring unit-blocks of virulence
- Genetic engineering is
based on facilitating horizontal gene transfer between distant
species by constructing artificial vectors that break down species
- The artificial vectors
constructed for genetic engineering are combinations of viral
pathogens and other invasive genetic elements that can generate new
cross-species viral pathogens.
- The artificial vectors and
other constructs for genetic engineering are inherently unstable and
prone to recombination, thereby enhancing horizontal gene transfer
- Special ‘shuttle
vectors’ made by genetic engineering are essentially
unstoppable, as they contain signals for transfer and replication in
different species; and helper functions for mobilization and
transfer can be supplied by viruses and other genetic parasites
which occur naturally in bacteria in all environments.
The accelerated emergence
of infectious diseases and of drug and antibiotic resistance
coincide with the development of commercial genetic engineering
Many horizontal gene
transfer events responsible for the spread of virulenc and
antibiotic resistance are recent, as inferred from the high degree (>99%)
of similarity in sequences of genes found in unrelated species.