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Protect Nature Now is sounding the alarm to protect the global microbiome
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Transcription: Jeffrey’s Take: Protect Nature Now is sounding the alarm to protect the global microbiome
This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity
Hi everyone. It's Jeffrey Smith, and we have over a half a million views on the trailer to “Don't Let the Gene Out of the Bottle.” I can't overemphasize how important this film is. In fact, the topic is so important that after 25 years as an activist in GMOs focusing on consumer health issues I have shifted. The Institute for Responsible Technology after 18 years has shifted. I will explain what we're doing, but first I want to ask you to please go to protectnaturenow.com. I have the link in the description and watch the film if you haven't, but also go to the Take Action tab at the top of the page, it’ll drop down, go to the activist platform. From there, in a couple of minutes, you can send emails, tweets, and Facebook posts to all of your elected officials.
You can send our press release to the media in your area. You can post things on your Facebook and your other social media, and you can also sign a petition. This may not sound like what I have been asking people to do for years. I haven't been focusing so much on getting people to contact their elected officials. Why? Because we were focused on ending the genetic engineering of the food supply, and for that, we did not need the U. S. government to make any new regulations or plans. We just had to reach a critical number of consumers about the health dangers. They choose the non-GMO healthier alternative--the food industry responds. They put in new orders for their supply chain. The farmers respond and from the consumer power, we eliminate GMOs and avoid having to engage the government. Now there has been a development…. gene editing.
Extremely dangerous technology causes all sorts of collateral damage in the DNA. One researcher described it as “chromosomal mayhem,” and yet the biotech industry has convinced the governments around the world to turn a blind eye to gene edited GMOs. So now you can create and put into the food supply gene edited foods, but you can also create gene edited microbes, gene edited butterflies, gene edited trees. It is so cheap and easy, you can buy a do-it-yourself CRISPR gene editing kit for $169 on Amazon. And for a couple of thousand you can have your own lab and create and release new microbes every day. You can name them as you replace nature, as you forever corrupt the world's gene pool. This is an existential threat, but the real existential threat comes from the unseen kingdoms. You've probably already heard about the importance of the gut microbiome for human health, where they say 80% of diseases, popular diseases, come from initially a dysfunction or a dysbiosis of the balance of the gut bacteria and other organisms, called the microbiome.
It is health critical. How do we know? Over 50,000 studies have been done in five years pointing to it as a critical function for health. In fact according to my friend Kiran Krishnan, the microbiologist, human beings have outsourced up to 90% of their day-to-day functions to the critters living inside us. We evolved with them for millions of years. Even more rich in diversity is the soil microbiome. In fact everywhere you go on the planet you find these critters, and it turns out we're just now discovering that they're not germs we need to kill, but they are in fact the foundation of ecosystems inside us and around us. How did they get so intelligent? Because they swapped genetic material between them. They get together as a community and they advance as a community, passing genetic elements, genes, etc. to different species and gain the ability to survive and work with whatever species or hosts they're working with.
It turns out they are mission critical for the planet. Now enter gene edited microbes. What I'm about to say could change your perspective significantly. I'm going to go slow, because it's really important to understand it. Genetically engineer a microbe and release it in an Arkansas field to help regenerate the soil after spraying it with Roundup. It sounds like a good plan. Let's add biology to the soil, but let's genetically engineer it with some new elements that were not part of the billions of years of evolution because, according to our research and our field tests, it works in the fields in Arkansas. But if you release--as the film “Don't let the Gene Out of the Bottle” will show you--and it's being released, I will tell you now, Monday morning, April 19th, a 16-minute amazing film. Please watch it.
In fact, go to protectnaturenow.com and sign up with our list so that you can be informed when the film will be released. We had half a million views on the trailer. We want at least a million on the film itself. So, you release the bacteria in one place and--as you'll see in the film--genetically engineered bacteria, as bacteria in general, travel. I don't have to tell everyone today that microbes travel around the globe. We know from COVID-19 they travel around the globe. So now you have new genetic functions, new genetic material that has never been part of the gene pool, traveling and entering all the different ecosystems on the planet, swapping genetic material. These can create genetic damage, even ecosystem collapse, from a well-meaning release. You're going to see near cataclysms in the film, a bacterium that could theoretically have ended terrestrial plant life had it been released as planned.
It's hinted at in the trailer, which you can watch now, but even if we don't have those seriously bad actors, the microbiome as a whole is very delicate, it's very balanced, and it's extremely intelligent. I just wrote an article about this, that a significant percentage of mother's milk is indigestible by the baby. It's not designed for the baby, it's designed for the microbiome. There's a whole system of inoculating newborns and maintaining the health of their gut bacteria because their life depends on it, their health depends on it. Changes in the gut bacteria can set a person on a crash course for numerous diseases starting in the first few months of life, starting in the first day of life. How has that child been inoculated-- through a C-section or through the birth canal? The birth canal has been populated with bacteria that digest milk for the baby.
It gets transferred through the mother's body, some to the breasts, some to the birth canal, to protect the baby, to inoculate the baby. There's another percentage of fantastic microbes that come through the breast milk. The baby also gets microbes from the skin contact with the mother. It's all designed over millions of years as we co-evolved so that the baby's health is in good shape at the beginning. Now let's think of that microbe released in Arkansas. Maybe when they released it in Arkansas in the soil, they equipped it. They want it to proliferate in the soil. They wanted it to grow and then wanted to out-compete competing microbes. So they added some anti-microbial, some antibiotic, so to speak, so that it can kill other bacteria, but it can't be killed itself, so it becomes antibiotic resistant at the same time. They pair antibiotic resistance on the one hand for their microbe, and antimicrobials for other microbes. It gets released so it can take hold--very smart…if you're thinking just on that field. Now it travels and ends up in the gut of a baby. The genetic material designed to support the survival and proliferation of the remedial probiotic in an Arkansas field, has now transferred to a pathogen, to a disease-creating bacterium--I don't know which--maybe negative E.coli, maybe the botulism—the Clostridium botulinum strain that produces the botulism poison—now it is equipped with material that can kill off other microbes or protect itself from being killed.
Now we have altered the entire complexion and balance of the microbiome of an infant somewhere on the planet because of a release in Arkansas, for example. No one who is creating these microbes and releasing them is thinking that big--and you'd wonder why we just are in a pandemic. Microbes travel. They swap genetic material. That's one microbe--what if we have other microbes, microbes that help with salt-inundated areas? What happens if it gets to another area? In the atmosphere there are microbes. In a volcano in volcanic lava there are microbes. There are microbes in the harshest areas of the planet, with very specialized functions.
What if we're introducing new functions that worked very well in the area that we released it for, but have no business entering the gene pool elsewhere? It's an existential threat, especially when you realize that if we do nothing--and we have all of these high school biology classes, college classes and laboratories around the world, and businesses and governments producing gene edited microbes--we may release a million of them within the next generation, and that could be a disaster. The number one most common result (I've said it before) of genetic engineering is surprise side effects. There's no justification to allow any genetically engineered microbe to be released into the environment, let alone allowing untold volumes of them coming in from all sorts of areas with no understanding of what it can create. So…I would like to ask you to help us. I'd like to ask you to help us to build a global movement, to inform members of Congress, state assemblies, local politicians, and the media.
If I asked you that, to say, Okay, could you do that, that would be a huge burden. There's no way you would know what to say. And one or two of you might do it--but we have made it so simple. Go to the Take Action tab at protectnaturenow.com, go down to the Activist platform, and in a single click you can send an email to all of your elected officials--a single click a tweet to all of them, another one--a Facebook post, customizing each as you wish, sending our press release to local media, posting on your social media, signing a petition that we will use around the world.
The good news is that it doesn't take rocket science to figure out that this is an existential threat. Anyone who's been paying attention to human health and biology knows that the gut bacteria in the microbiome are essential.
As soon as they realized that we can release hundreds of thousands or millions of these microbes that will travel around the world and bring new genetic elements that did not co-evolve with humans or the ecosystem, they get it. How do we know they get it? Because I've been talking about it, and there are even Congress people right now who are very interested. They're also interested to see whether we are going to get enough people through social support, and verification that we can build a movement…and that's where you come in. There are people waiting to look at the numbers--be a number. In fact when you go to this platform you can create a hundred actions in five minutes it's so quick, it's so efficient.
Please help us protect nature now. When you go there to the Activist platform, the thing you'll be sharing today is the trailer with 500,000 views. On April 19th it will be the 16-minute full film, and soon after we'll have other materials and campaigns. So please make sure you sign up at protectnaturenow.com so we can let you know when the next campaign is and the next and the next. You'll get so good at that activist platform that in two minutes you'll have a hundred actions, and it will make a difference. I say this again before I leave, I didn't have to ask about going to Congress for years. It wasn't that important for us. It was important for us to get the word out to consumers who would make better choices in the supermarket, but that's not going to stop genetically engineered microbes. That has to be laws. However, I know from personal experience, laws can change.
I was flown to Poland once (I think I mentioned this on another Facebook Live) I was flown to Poland years ago and gave a press conference with the Minister of Environment, praising the country's non-GMO policy, which was unique in Europe and wonderful. Then a week later a new government was voted in that was pro-GMO. So yes, we need the laws, but we need something else. We need to embed the understanding of this risk and the appropriateness of locking down all GMO microbes. We need that to become part of popular culture. It needs to be in the curriculum around the world. It needs to be echoed through movies and TV and books. It needs to be deeply understood by this generation that we have arrived at the inevitable time in human civilization where we can redirect the streams of evolution for all time, which means we have to steward all living beings and all future generations, instead of damage them due to our ignorance and desire to make money on microbial release.
So we are asking for people not only to contact their elected officials, but to share it on your social media, share the trailer over and over again. Starting Earth Week, April 19th, 7:00 A.M. Pacific time, we're going to release the film, 16 minutes. Please share it every day during Earth Week, every day. We’ll send out an invitation today, on Earth Day at 10:00 AM Pacific time, we will have a panel with many of the people from the film describing in more detail what we're up against and how we can solve this issue. I'm looking at the comments. Thank you so much for your appreciation…and yes, Brian, it's a scary thought, but very plausible. Yes, it's a scary thought, plausible, the problems…but one of my slogans is “Think Huge.” Thinking big is so last century. We have huge issues now and we need huge responses, so allow us together to join hands and protect nature now.
One other thing that you can do while you're at protectnaturenow.com that is so important is to make a contribution, ideally monthly, any amount you can afford--$5. By having it monthly we then can count on it and hire staff and create assets and commit budgets, knowing that it's coming to us every single month. It's a nonprofit, and we need to establish offices around the world. We need to follow up with so many people who are going to be contacting us, saying, What can I do? What can I do? And we don't have the staff to respond to all of the incredible opportunities that will be coming to us. When you see the trailer, and more importantly when you see the film, you’ll realize just how urgent this is.
We did one other thing with the film. We didn't just say we need to stop the release of all GMO microbes and keep them indoors, but there's one other demand. We should not be genetically enhancing potentially pandemic pathogens. There's an amazing example in the film, of a virus that genetic engineers enhanced, that could be 24 times more deadly than the COVID-19 virus, if it were to have escaped. So, as long as we're dealing with the world of this unseen kingdom that carries so many risks, we need to take responsibility now as a civilization, at every level of government, international treaties and throughout popular culture. Thank you, Brian, yes…you agreed we need to work collectively here on this, make this global, so your contribution is going to help fund our translation of the film in many languages, translation of our site.
We're reaching out to organizations around the world, thousands of them, literally, because this must be a global coalition and we're up for the task. We helped pioneer the global movement that worked to educate people about the health dangers of GMOs in sufficient numbers that it's changing the food supply back, systematically. Now we're starting a new global movement based on the new types of GMOs and the new existential threat that they pose.
Thank you for staying with me during this call. Thank you for agreeing to work with us. As Brian said, we need to do this, people. We can do this. We have no choice. We are committed to the longevity of humanity, of all living beings, of all future generations of the earth. It is time.
Thank you so much. I look forward to working with you all in the near future. We'll have training programs and speaker training programs and online courses as soon as we get the finances and the staff to put it all together. We're scrambling every day to keep up with the need.