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TSS未来系列:转基因生物的演变

TSS FUTURES: The Changing State of GMOs

本文含有虚构性写作,请注意保持独立思考。

by Katherine Vazquez

安德森一家
The Andersons At Home

现在是早上7点,布莱恩和麦琪·安德森刚刚起床去上学。他们的母亲昨天晚上又忘了打包午餐,所以他们只能依靠冰箱里方便冷藏的几瓶速食餐。安德森夫人曾经认为它营养丰富,而且能迅速维持生计。豆粕替代品的上市是为了防止午后的碳水化合物暴跌,提高学习成绩,但是,据她所知,它不起作用。布莱恩在他最近的几何测验中伪造了他母亲的签名——他得了又一个F——然后和他妹妹艰难地走出了门。他们差点错过校车。

It is 7 a.m. and Brian and Maggie Anderson are just waking up for school. Their mother forgot to pack their lunches again last night so they will have to rely on the bottles of Insta-meal conveniently chilled in the fridge. Mrs. Anderson once believed it to be nutritious and quick on-the-go sustenance. The soy meal replacement is marketed to prevent that mid-afternoon carb-crash and improve performance in school, but, as far as she can tell, it’s not working. Brian quickly forges his mother’s signature on his latest geometry quiz- another F- before trudging out the door with his sister. They nearly miss the school bus.

安德森太太自己也很匆忙,设法喝了一瓶早餐。她说服自己,这是有点可口,像过期花生酱和杏仁奶的组合。一股罪恶感涌上心头,她本来确信昨天晚上她会记得收拾午饭的。她跑到自己的房间,穿上了一件衬衫和一条皱巴巴的裤子,她挣扎着把裤子拉到腰上。睡衣显得她异常臃肿。她希望肚子胀气可能是怀孕的征兆,因为过去两年她一直没有第三个孩子。生育医生那边的账单越来越多,她已经在两班倒工作了。

In a hurry herself, Mrs. Anderson manages to chug down a bottle for breakfast. She convinces herself that it is somewhat palatable, like a combination of expired peanut butter and almond milk. A pang of guilt washes over her and she convinces herself she will remember to pack lunch that evening. She runs to her room and puts on a blouse and a wrinkled pair of slacks which she struggles to pull up over her waist. She is severely bloated from the morning’s pablum. She hopes her flatulent belly could be a sign of pregnancy, as she has had no luck on a third child for the past two of years. The bills from the fertility doctor are piling up and she has taken on a second shift at work.

安德森先生在刷牙前对着镜子静静地弯曲他的二头肌。对于一个40多岁的男人来说,他仍然很帅。镜子里的东西吸引了他的目光。在过去的几个月里,他的胸部一直在缓慢发育,现在他似乎快要哺乳了。他认为,男性乳房发育症在超过一定年龄的男性中是很典型的,而且他已经喝了一些啤酒,比吃饭时喝的还多。他的健康状况基本上是好的,像现在的其他人一样,他的饮食完全没有肉。他知道,每当他烤他最喜欢的生态无害汉堡时,他都会做出明智的选择。由最复杂的转基因大豆成分组成,当它们在烧烤酱下烧焦时,被刺激时甚至会“出血”一点。但现在,当他仔细审视自己时,他隐约想起祖母在重复老太太们的故事:过多的大豆会使人女性化,可能会降低精子数量。

Mr. Anderson quietly flexes his biceps in the mirror before brushing his teeth. He still looks good for a man in his late 40’s. Something in the mirror catches his eye. His chest has been slowly developing for the past few months and now he appears close to lactation. Gynecomastia is typical in men past a certain age, he thinks, and he has been drinking a few more beers than he should with his meals. His health is mostly good, and like everyone else nowadays he consumes a completely meatless diet. He knows he is making a sound choice whenever he grills up his favorite cruelty-free burgers. Composed of the most sophisticated GMO soy ingredients, they even “bleed” a little when prodded as they char up under barbecue sauce. But now as he examines himself closely, he faintly recalls his grandma repeating the old wives’ tale that too much soy is feminizing and may lower sperm count.

除了安德森一家之外,还有更多的人正遭受着科技和农业的最新发展带来的痛苦。许多小农场主和屠夫不得不关闭商店,加入素食或转基因食品的行列。他们无法与竞争对手的低价、健康和环保要求竞争。工业化畜牧业现在实际上已经过时了。曾经在公共场合自由地渴望和吃肉的老年人现在被迫默默地忍受他们的耻辱。人们不再反思“过去的美好时光”,送奶工、奶牛场和有机非转基因农业的概念很快就会从年轻人的头脑中消失。

Many more people apart from the Andersons are suffering from the latest advancements in technology and Big Agriculture. Many small farmers and butchers have had to close their shops and jump on the vegetarian or GMO bandwagon. They were unable to compete with the low prices and health and environmental claims of their competitors. Industrialized livestock agriculture is now effectively obsolete. Older folks who once used to crave and eat meat freely and publicly are now forced to bear their shame quietly. There is no more reflecting on “the good old days” and the concepts of the milkman, dairy farms and organic, non-GMO farming are soon to be obliterated from the minds of the youth.

不可能的壮举
An Impossible Feat

虽然对安德森一家的虚构描述似乎有些牵强,但我们正诡异地接近这种新的现实。蓬勃发展的肉类替代品品牌Impossible meat的首席执行官帕特里克•布朗(Patrick Browne)最近承认,该公司的使命是在未来15年内淘汰肉类行业。他已经做好了达到目标的准备。他最近的联盟是与星巴克这个庞然大物。

While the fictional account of the Andersons may seem far-fetched, we are creeping eerily closer to this new kind of reality. Patrick Browne, The CEO of the booming meat substitute brand Impossible Meat, recently admitted that the mission of the company is to eliminate the meat industry within the next 15 years. And he is well poised to reach his goal. His most recent alliance is with the behemoth that is Starbucks.

他说:“星巴克是我们的目标之一,如果不是最大的目标店,仅仅是因为他们的品牌和无处不在的力量。”。“这只是一个曝光和审判的好机会。”

“Starbucks was one of our — if not the top — targeted outlet, just because of the power of their brand and their ubiquity,” he said. “It’s just a great opportunity for exposure and trial.”

“不可能的早餐三明治”是一种植物香肠,目前在全国15200多家国内商店均有售。星巴克寻求提供更环保的食物选择,而“不可能的食物”现在正以更健康、更可持续的仿肉为目标,面向年轻观众。布朗指出,大约三分之一年龄在18-29岁的美国人平均每月去一次星巴克餐厅。这笔交易将有助于公司接触到年轻人。

The Impossible Breakfast Sandwich is a plant-based sausage now offered at more than 15,200 domestic stores across the nation. Starbucks seeks to provide more environmentally friendly food options and Impossible Foods is now targeting a younger audience with a healthier and more sustainable mock-meat. Brown noted that about a third of the Americans ages 18-29 visit a Starbucks restaurant an average of once a month. The deal will help the company reach the young adult demographic.

也许普通消费者并不知道,不可能肉制品的关键成分是转基因大豆。根据他们的网站,基因工程是“我们使命和产品的重要组成部分”,他们使用两种基因工程成分:血红素(大豆血红蛋白)和大豆蛋白。为了制造血红素,使人造肉具有真实的味道,他们提取大豆高铁血红蛋白的DNA,将其插入酵母中,然后发酵酵母。此外,他们还从爱荷华州的农场获取转基因大豆蛋白。他们的厨房化学反应完美地展示了科学技术如何融合在一起,创造出一个真实食物的不可思议的假象。

Perhaps unbeknownst to the average consumer, the key ingredient of Impossible Meat’s products is GMO soy. According to their website, genetic engineering is “an essential part of our mission and our product.” They use two genetically engineered ingredients: heme (soy leghemoglobin) and soy protein. To make heme, which gives the faux meat an authentic taste, they take the DNA for soy leghomoglobin, insert it into yeast, and ferment the yeast. Additionally, they source genetically engineered soy protein from farms in Iowa. Their kitchen chemistry perfectly exemplifies how science and technology merge to create an uncanny simulacrum of real food.

Soylent的出现
The Emergence of Soylent

继肉类仿制行业的先驱之后,大豆全粉替代品迅速崛起,成为另一种流行的大豆主食。Soylent在2013年由软件工程师创立后,一直打着无害的旗号,让所有富人和穷人都能负担得起充足的营养。虽然这个概念很好,但产品主要是大豆分离蛋白——这是一种廉价的、从大豆中分离出来的蛋白质,通过基因工程可以产生更高质量的蛋白质。Soylent的生产商设计的这款产品包含了最佳健康所需的所有营养成分,并声称它可以安全地一天摄入三次。令人震惊的是,独立实验室在2015年证实了粉末中有毒金属铅和镉的高含量。

On the heels of pioneers in the meat imitation industry, Soylent complete meal replacement is quickly rising as another popular soy-based diet staple. After its inception at the hands of software engineers in 2013, Soylent has been paraded under the innocuous banner of making adequate nutrition more affordable for all people rich and poor. While the concept is nice, the product is mainly soy protein isolate- which is the cheap, isolated protein from the soybean that is genetically engineered to create a higher quality of protein. The makers of Soylent designed it to include all the nutrients necessary for optimal health and claim it can be safely imbibed up to three times a day. Alarmingly, independent labs confirmed high levels of the toxic metals lead and cadmium in the powder in 2015.

什么是转基因生物?
What are GMOs?

转基因生物是一种植物或动物,其DNA通过基因工程以某种方式被改变或操纵。大多数情况下,转基因生物都被来自其他细菌、植物、病毒或动物的外源DNA所修饰。在农业中,农产品可以通过基因改造来延长保质期或增加营养价值。最广泛种植的转基因作物,如大豆和玉米,被设计用来耐受危险的除草剂,如草甘膦。

A genetically modified organism, or GMO, is a plant or animal that has had its DNA changed or manipulated in some way through genetic engineering. Most of the time, GMOs have been tweaked with foreign DNA from another bacteria, plant, virus or animal. In agriculture, produce can be genetically altered to have a longer shelf life or increased nutrient value. The most widely cultivated GMOs like soy and corn are designed to tolerate dangerous herbicides like glyphosate.

1996年,转基因作物首次用于商业生产。从那时起,它们的使用量急剧上升。并非所有的转基因生物都是农作物。非植物转基因生物在农业上也有应用。例如,可以使用增强的载体系统对昆虫进行修饰以用于害虫控制,并且可以将病毒转化为用于植物疾病管理的瞬时表达载体。

In 1996, GMO crops were first introduced for commercial production. Since then, their use has soared precipitously. Not all GMOs are crop plants. Non-plant genetically modified organisms also have applications in agriculture. For example, insects may be modified for insect pest control using enhanced vector systems, and viruses can be implemented as transient-expression vectors for disease management in plants.

转基因生物的未来如何?
What about the future of GMO?

基因编辑技术的最新进展允许在不引入外源DNA的情况下进行有效的位点特异性基因突变。基因工程的这一新阶段已经推出了新的育种技术,如CRISPR和RdDM,以及合成生物学。这些技术有助于对植物和动物的基因和代谢途径进行更复杂的操作。

Recent advances in gene-editing technology allow for effective site-specific genetic alterations without introducing foreign DNA. This new phase of genetic engineering has rolled out new breeding techniques (NBTs) like CRISPR and RdDM, as well as synthetic biology. These techniques facilitate more complex manipulation of the genes and metabolic pathways of plants and animals.

人们越来越担心,这些新的创新可能会导致通过基因“驱动”系统将修饰基因传播到整个野生种群。这个系统允许一条染色体上的一个被改变的基因复制到另一条染色体上。因此,大多数后代将继承一个工程基因。基因驱动有助于消灭杂草和带病害虫等物种。然而,物种灭绝对整个生态系统有潜在的影响。如果只有少数具有基因驱动力的生物被引入野外,那么最终整个种群可能都会继承编辑过的基因。

There is growing concern that these new innovations could lead to the spread of modified genes through entire wild populations via a gene ‘drive’ system. This system allows an altered gene on one chromosome to replicate itself onto a partner chromosome. As a result, most offspring will inherit an engineered gene. Gene drive could be useful to exterminate species, such as weeds and disease carrying pests. However, there are potential consequences for whole ecosystems when species are eliminated. If only a handful of organisms with gene drives are introduced into the wild, the whole population could eventually inherit the edited gene.

许多科学家担心,这些新技术可能会绕过基于产品的转基因法规。它们允许公司绕过与当前GMO相关的昂贵而冗长的监管流程。而这些过程的启动是出于安全原因。

Many scientists worry that these new techniques could circumvent product-based GMO regulations and labeling. They allow companies to bypass the expensive and lengthy regulation processes tied to current GMO. These processes were initiated for important safety reasons.

利大于弊还是弊大于利?
Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

利用转基因生物大规模生产廉价、营养丰富的食品,最大限度地减少温室气体排放,是高尚的。不幸的是,在转基因生物的安全性问题上没有科学共识。

The use of GMOs to mass produce cheap, nutrient dense foods that minimize greenhouse gas emissions is noble. Unfortunately, there is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs.

基因多效性
Pleiotropy

DNA是一个复杂的结构。以任何方式修改DNA都可能导致细胞组成和与其他细胞关系的巨大变化。在生化上,这被称为多效性。

DNA is a complicated structure. Modifying DNA in any way can lead to dramatic changes in a cell’s composition and relationship with other cells. Chemically, this is known as Pleiotropy.

基因不是简单的积木——如果你调整或删除一个组成部分,其后果将远远超出改变后的“片段”。基因、蛋白质和通路相互作用,并由一个复杂的、多方面的网络过程控制。不管科学家声称什么,都不可能预见到哪怕是一个微小的基因改变的影响。多效性效应包括改变植物的营养、毒性和致敏性。

Genes are not simple building blocks – if you tweak or remove one component, there are consequences well beyond the changed ‘piece’. Genes, proteins and pathways interact with each another and are controlled by a complex, multi-faceted network process. Regardless of what scientist claim, it is impossible to foresee the impact of even a minute gene alteration. Pleiotropic effects have included changes in the plant’s nutritional, toxic and allergenic potential.

例如,1996年检查的一种转基因大豆,发现已知过敏原胰蛋白酶抑制剂的浓度高出27%。2008年,一种转基因玉米意外地出现了一种新的蛋白质,它是一种主要的过敏原。此外,2013年发表在《食品化学杂志》(Journal of Food Chemistry)上的一项研究发现,与有机养殖大豆相比,转基因大豆积累了高水平的农药草甘膦和AMPA。草甘膦,一种流行的除草剂,被认为和癌症和非霍奇金淋巴瘤有关。

For instance, a GMO soy examined in 1996, developed 27% higher concentrations of the known allergen, trypsin-inhibitor. In 2008, a GMO corn had the unexpected emergence of a new form of the protein which is a major allergen. Moreover, a 2013 study published in The Journal of Food Chemistry found that GMO soy accumulated high levels of the agrochemicals glyphosate and AMPA when compared to organically farmed soy. Glyphosate, a popular herbicide, is known to be associated with the cancer non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

细菌抗性
Antibacterial resistance

基因改造可以提高作物的抗病性和对除草剂的耐受性,这可能对人类抵御疾病的能力产生不利影响。食物中发现的基因转移到肠道细菌或人体细胞的可能性很小。一些转基因作物含有抗抗生素基因。这种抗性可能会传播到食用它们的人类身上。随着抗生素处方的增多,人类对抗生素的耐药性已成为全球性危机。转基因生物可能助长了这种风险。

Genetic modification, which can increase a crop’s disease resistance and tolerance to herbicides, may adversely affect the ability of humans to defend against illness. There is a small possibility that the genes found in food can transfer to gut bacteria or human body cells. Some GMO crops contain antibiotic-resistant genes. This resistance might spread to the humans consuming them. With the increased prescription of antibiotics, antibiotic resistance in humans has become a global crisis. GMOs may be contributing to that risk.

转基因,新气象
A New Outlook

人们对可持续、合乎道德和健康的健康意识产品的需求越来越大。转基因生物的出现是为了满足这一需求,毫无疑问,它们将继续存在。随着持续的研究和负责任的技术使用,转基因生物的故事可能不会有一个可怕的结局。有可能创造出更多营养丰富的食物,并让发展中国家的人们能够获得,比如金大米被设计成向缺乏维生素A的人提供β-胡萝卜素,还有转基因生产的晚熟番茄。目前尚缺乏单独评价转基因生物以及与其他农用化学品联合使用的效果的前瞻性流行病学研究,这对于确保更有利的结果至关重要。如果科学家们能够致力于涉及足够多人群的纵向研究,我们就可以安全地利用新的转基因技术,而不会引起消费者的担忧。

There is an increasing demand for health-conscious products that are sustainable, ethical, and healthy. GMOs have emerged to try and meet that demand, and they are no doubt here to stay. With continued research and responsible use of technology the story of GMOs likely won’t have a grim ending. There is potential to create more food that is nutrient rich and make it available to people in developing countries, like the golden rice engineered to deliver beta-carotene to people deficient in Vitamin A or GMO-produced delayed ripening tomatoes. Prospective epidemiological studies for the evaluation of the effect of GMOS alone, and in combination with other agrochemicals, are lacking, and are critical for ensuring a more favorable outcome. If scientists can commit to more longitudinal studies involving large enough populations, we can safely harness new GMO technology without raising consumer concern.

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