Friday, November 28, 2008

You May Be Roundup-Ready

That is, your genes may have incorporated the very genes that were transferred into genetically engineered corn and soybeans, genes that produce toxic pesticides and herbicides.

In all the years I've written about food and health, both professionally and here, this story is one of the most outrageous and chilling I've come across. It would make headlines if not for very monied and powerful groups that wish to protect and grow their investment.

Recall in a previous post (Mice Fed Genetically Modified Corn Suffer Immune Disturbances) where I said:
"Here's a fact I hadn't considered: 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."
It came true.

The example I'm about to describe, however, involves intestinal bacteria, not respiratory bacteria.

The UK report I referenced above was dated 1998. Subsequently:
"The UK government eventually commissioned research to look for horizontal gene transfer into bacteria in the gut of human volunteers and found positive results."
- The Case For A GM-Free Sustainable World, Independent Science Panel, Institute of Science in Society, 2003
"Horizontal gene transfer" means the transfer of genetic material from one organism to another, without the recipient being an offspring of the donor. Genetic engineering is an example of this, although it occurs in nature also.

I'll let Jeffrey Smith describe the research:
"In 2004, Dr. Trudy Netherwood of Newcastle University studied the fate of these ingested plant genes (GM soya) after human ingestion. However, before even starting the study, Dr. Netherwood found copies of the plant trans-genes already colonizing the gut bacteria of 3 of 7 human subjects. Apparently, these three human subjects had already consumed food contaminated with GMO products."
- Questioning GMO Food, Jeffrey Smith And The Seeds Of Deception, by Jeffrey Dach MD (Excellent reading on this topic)
Not only did human gut bacteria pick up the gene that was originally transferred to the soybean crop, a gene that codes for a protein that acts as a pesticide, but the DNA of our actual cells may have picked it up too.

Again, Jeffrey Smith:
"To make matters worse, not only is the new genetic code from GMO food incorporated into friendly gut bacteria, it is also incorporated into the epithelial cells of the GI tract, and the liver. Dr. Netherwood's work was confirmed in a 2006 study by Dr. Sharma in Alberta Canada who found that transgenic DNA from Roundup Ready Canola Meal could be found in the gut epithelial tissues of pigs eating the GMO meal."
Here's the study he referred to:
Detection Of Transgenic And Endogenous Plant DNA In Digesta And Tissues Of Sheep And Pigs Fed Roundup Ready Canola Meal, Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry, 2006
"This study confirms that feed-ingested DNA fragments (endogenous and transgenic) do survive to the terminal GI tract and that uptake into gut epithelial tissues does occur. A very low frequency of transmittance to visceral tissue was confirmed in pigs, but not in sheep."
This is all news to me.

You have to wonder if the recent studies linking the rise in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to environmental allergens is related to this. If the cells lining our digestive tract, and our gut bacteria, were capable of manufacturing foreign pesticide-like proteins (made capable via horizontal gene transfer from GM corn or soy), might that not be irritating to the bowel?

What do you think, do companies that manufacture genetically engineered crop seed have everything under control?


Nandidevi said...

do you thnk that once the bacteria has become a tenant, are there ways to kick them out of our gut or are we stuck with them?

Bix said...

That's a great question. I don't know. One way we get rid of unwanted bacteria is with antibiotics. But can you single out offending bacteria and target them? Antibiotics don't rid us of much of our bacteria anyway, which we actually need. (We have more bacterial cells on and in us than we do self-cells.)

One thing that controls the types and amounts of bacteria on us is the bacteria themselves. They fight over territory. I remember reading that our large intestine is like a bacterial warzone when you look up close. And we have different colonies of bacteria in each ear, each nostril, etc.

I've also read that you can influence types and amounts of bacterial colonies by lifestyle - what you eat, hygiene, activity, smoking, sleeping, etc. Here though opinions really diverge.

I think more research, more transparent research, and more transparent research using humans, needs to be done with GMOs.