The authors constantly allude to “natural transformation” to emphasize the increasingly accepted notion that horizontal gene transfer is part of the amazing feats of ‘natural genetic engineering’ or ‘natural genetic modification’ that organisms and cells carry out in order to survive.
However, there is nothing “natural” about GM nucleic acids, which contain numerous synthetic parts and novel combinations, designed to overcome and override natural genetic modification processes.
Nevertheless, GM nucleic acids can exploit natural transformation processes to wreak potential havoc on health and the environment. There is already evidence that short, degraded DNA is readily taken up by human cells and integrated into the genome; that nucleic acids are actively secreted by cells into the circulatory system, and nucleic acids in food can enter the blood stream and influence gene expression in cells of the body.
Nielson and colleagues, while not denying that horizontal transfer of GM nucleic acids can take place, are giving the wrong impression that it has a very low probability, hence lulling the public (and regulators, I might add - Sepp) into a false sense of security, thus giving licence to continued release of GMOs into the environment.