Industry knocked out a gene that produces the browning when you slice the mushroom, so these are non-browning mushrooms. They can be sliced and lie about their age. The problem is, years after they were told by the USDA, “We have no regulatory oversight over your gene edited mushrooms, so do what you want, it’s not a government affair,” an article was published in a peer reviewed journal showing that one third of the time gene knockouts don’t work (at least, in that one study) with many, many examples. But not only do they not work…obviously, something happened, because it wasn’t turning brown, so the protein that’s normally produced was not being produced.
But sometimes when it doesn’t work (found out years later), it produces a truncated protein, a misshapen protein, so instead of knocking out the whole gene, some of the sequences remain. When you produce a misshapen or a truncated protein it can become an allergen or a toxin. So we may be, if it’s ever introduced, eating allergens in a mushroom that has never before had those proteins, causing potential anaphylactic shock and death—and according to this group, it doesn’t have to be labeled.
The thing is, when you know what can go wrong with gene editing, you realize it can create massive collateral damage in the DNA. You can shatter the chromosome and cause random rearrangements. You can cause big deletions and additions, non-target cuts. You can have DNA, random DNA from bacteria or other animals in the Petri dish, stuffed in and combined with the DNA of the organism you’re creating. All of that can happen. You can have—even in the process of cloning that cell into a plant-massive, widespread collateral damage, hundreds or thousands of mutations up and down the DNA.
Gene editing is very new, very dangerous, and prone to side effects. You genetically engineer something with gene editing, you release it into the environment—it can become a permanent part of the gene pool, and there’s no recall. Once you create the first generation in the lab, the next generation may have changes that you didn’t predict or anticipate, and now it’s too late, because now it’s part of the world, especially, with microbes. It’ll travel around the world and meet sometimes very, very quickly. They can mutate. They can swap genes with other species. The gene that you put in for this particular use in this particular field or application is now in ecosystems around the world possibly wreaking havoc, and inside the ecosystem called the gut microbiome, possibly wreaking havoc for our health.