Monday, January 30, 2012

Endotoxins In Genetically Engineered Corn

Genetically modified corn produces a toxin
that poisons rootworms, but it might be
losing that ability more rapidly than expected.
While I'm on the topic of endotoxins (this post, Dietary Fat And Diabetes, links endotoxins to chronic inflammation, and to fat in the diet), I have a comment about genetically engineered foods.

Corn has been genetically engineered to contain a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). That gene codes for a protein. That protein is an endotoxin. Housed in every cell of the genetically engineered Bt corn, it produces the pesticide/endotoxin which is toxic to insects that feed on the corn plant.

The effect of this endotoxin on humans who consume the Bt corn is not well understood because research is sparse. However, we know that the Bt sprays elicit an immune response:
Immune Responses In Farm Workers After Exposure To Bacillus Thuringiensis Pesticides, Environmental Health Perspectives, 1999

And we know that:
"Bt crops have far higher levels of endotoxin in the grain and leaves than do the foliar Bt sprays."
- Possible Human Health Hazards of Genetically Engineered Bt Crops, Michael Hanson PhD of the Consumer Policy Institute/Consumers Union. Presented to the EPA Science Advisory Panel, October 2000
How much more?
"The Bt-toxin produced in the GM plants is more dangerous than in its natural spray form. The sprayed-on version biodegrades or washes off. Not so with Bt corn. Further, the toxin inside the plant is about 3,000-5,000 times more concentrated than the spray and it is designed to be more toxic than the natural version. In fact, the GM toxin has properties of known allergens and fails all three GM allergy tests recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and others."
- Genetically Engineered Corn May Cause Allergies, Infertility, and Disease, JM Smith, 2009


Bix said...

I'd like to see genetically engineered corn and other GMOs labeled. But given there's now so much of it in this country, many foods would carry the label, and people might just ignore it. It's so after-the-fact at this point.

Laurie Endicott Thomas said...

The first GMO product to hit the market caused an outbreak of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. The product, which was an L-tryptophan supplement produced by genetically modified bacteria, contained a novel amino acid.

RB said...

The United States is suppose to be democracy. A vital democracy depends on the free flow of accurate information to all the people and support of all the people by the government. When a government suppresses information or allows corporates to suppress information, it harms our democracy. Suppressing labeling of GMO food is unhealthful for a democracy. It is what one would expect in a communist country.

caulfieldkid said...


I'm interested in reading about that. Can you point me somewhere where I can do so?