Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mice Fed Genetically Modified Corn Suffer Immune Disturbances

Another recent and ominous study on the effects of genetically modified corn - corn we all eat because it's rampant in our (plant and animal) food and feed supply.

Source: USDA: Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the US

This study was made public on November 14, just days after the study in my previous post (Genetically Modified Corn Found To Lower Fertility and Metabolism) came out. Both of these studies are government-backed -- This one by the Italian government, the previous one by the Austrian government.

Here's the abstract:
Intestinal And Peripheral Immune Response To MON810 Maize Ingestion In Weaning And Old Mice

Young mice ("weaning") and old mice were fed either:
  • A diet containing non-GM corn
  • A diet containing GM corn (Monsanto's MON810)

"There were significant differences in the percentages of T and B cells, and of CD4+, CD8+, gdT+, and mbT+ subpopulations in both weaning and old mice that were GM-fed for 30 and 90 days respectively compared with controls. These changes appeared in the gut, spleen and blood, and were accompanied by increase in blood cytokines IL-6, IL-13, IL-12p70, and MIP-1b, all involved in allergic and inflammatory responses. These changes were not detected in the mice fed the commercial non-GM pellet diet."1

The Role For Statins

The mice suffered an allergic reaction.

When humans suffer an allergic reaction, their markers for inflammation rise. One marker for inflammation is C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker that a very recent and hot-button statin study (JUPITER Trial) indicated be tested in "apparently healthy" individuals, for if CRP is high, it could warrant taking a statin (specifically, the statin in the study: Crestor) to reduce heart attack risk. (CRP is known to rise when interleukin-6 (IL-6) rises, which, in this case, it did in GM-fed mice.)

The Corn With The Pesticide In Every Bite

The GM corn in this study contains a gene that produces "Bt" pesticide in every cell of the plant, including its pollen.2 When bugs take a bite of the plant, the toxic pesticide creates holes in their gastrointestinal tract that kills them.

Humans are exposed to the Bt toxin when they eat the GM corn, corn product (corn-fed fish, livestock, processed foods), or when they inhale Bt-containing pollen.

People who inhaled Bt pollen suffered allergic reactions (respiratory, skin, and gastrointestinal problems) which did not occur with non-Bt pollen.3

Here's a fact I hadn't considered 4: The genes from inhaled GM pollen may combine with the genes of bacteria that naturally line our respiratory tract. Our resident bacteria could then manufacture the toxin, in this case a potent pesticide, bathing our lungs on a consistent basis. The UK report seemed concerned about this. Monsanto should give their authors a call and tell them not to worry, they have everything under control. (Update: It may have already happened. See my post, You May Be Roundup-Ready.)

I feel like I'm taking part in a giant experiment.
1 GM Maize Disturbs Immune System Of Young And Old Mice
2 Bt is short for Bacillus thuringiensis, the bacterium from which the pesticide gene was derived.
3 Impact Of Bt Cotton On Farmers' Health
4 UK Advisory Committee On Novel Foods And Processes, 1998, p.67
Source for graph: USDA: Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the US

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