THE DIRTY LOWDOWN ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS

Posted: March 10, 2012 in by John Dilligent
Tags: , ,

Are GMOs a boon to mankind, or the end to healthy nutrition as we know it?

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In the real world it is becoming increasingly difficult to eliminate genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from your diet. If you’re not consuming them directly in the way of the fruits and vegetables you eat, you’re consuming them indirectly through the milk you drink or the chicken you fricazee… because that dairy cow and that chicken were fed on genetically-engineered corn.

Think you’re avoiding all that by paying more to go organic? Truth is, maybe you are and maybe you’re not: cases of contamination are frequent and on a rapid uptick, as more and more farms are swinging toward genetically emgineered crops and errant honeybees spread their pollen — and thus their altered DNA — to nearby organically-grown plants. Now all this stuff’s starting to get all mixed up, and all of it’s turning up in everything. 

Eventually if not sooner, all foodstuffs will either be directly or indirectly contaminated with it somehow.

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Gentically Modified Organisms: An Overview

A genetically modified organism  (GMO) or genetically engineered organism  (GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.

These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes.

Transgenic organisms, a subset of GMOs, are organisms that have inserted DNA from a different species. GMOs are the constituents of genetically modified foods.

Production

Genetic modification involves the insertion or deletion of genes. When genes are inserted, they usually come from a different species, which is a form of horizontal gene transfer.

In nature this can occur when exogenous DNA penetrates the cell membrane for any reason. To do this artificially may require attaching the genes to a virus or just physically inserting the extra DNA into the nucleus of the intended host with a very small syringe, or with very small particles fired from a gene gun.

However, other methods exploit natural forms of gene transfer, such as the ability of Agrobacterium  to transfer genetic material to plants, or the ability of lentiviruses to transfer genes to animal cells.

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Possible Health Concerns

Organ failure (rats): 

A study analyzing the effects of GE foods on mammalian health linked three GE corn varieties to organ failure in rats.

The researchers, led by Gilles-Eric Séralini of CRIIGEN and the University of Caen in France, found new side effects linked with GE corn consumption that were sex — and often dose — dependent.

These effects mostly occurred with the kidney and liver, while other effects were noticed in the heart, adrenal glands, spleen and hematopoietic system. The researchers concluded that these data highlight signs of hepato-renal toxicity, possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GE corn.

Glyphosate and birth defects: 

Research published Aug. 9, 2010 , confirms that glyphosate-based herbicides cause malformations in frog and chicken embryos at doses significantly lower than those used in agricultural spraying and well below maximum residue levels in products currently approved in the European Union.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup. Publishing the research were researchers led by Professor Andrés Carrasco, director of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology at the University of Buenos Aires Medical School and member of Argentina’s National Council of Scientific and Technical Research.

“The findings in the lab are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy,”  Carrasco reported at a press conference during the 6th European Conference of GMO Free Regions. He explained that most of the safety data on glyphosate herbicides and GE soy were provided by industry and are not independent.

Carrasco began researching the embryonic effects of glyphosate after seeing reports of high rates of birth defects in rural areas of Argentina where GE Roundup Ready soybeans are grown in large monocultures sprayed regularly from airplanes.

Impacts on animal health: 

Researchers from Greece reported that animal toxicology studies of GE foods indicate they can have toxic hepatic, pancreatic, renal and reproductive effects.

Also, the use of recombinant growth hormones or its expression in animals should be re-examined since it has been shown that it increases IGF-1 which may promote cancer.

Serious human health risks:  

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine, in a 2009 Genetically Modified Foods Position Paper , called for a moratorium on GE foods and warned that “GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.” 

This position paper cites animal studies that indicate such health risks associated with GM food consumption as infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.

“Because of the mounting data, it is biologically plausible for genetically modified foods to cause adverse health effects in humans,”  the report notes, listing citations for numerous peer-reviewed studies as backup.

Bt toxin in human blood: 

Most recently, a study accepted for publication in the journal Reproductive Toxicology, conducted by scientists at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada, reports the presence of Bt toxin, widely used in GE crops, in human blood.

Although scientists and multinational corporations promoting GE crops have maintained that Bt toxin poses no danger to human health as the protein, Cry1Ab, breaks down in the human gut, the findings from this study show this does not happen. Instead, it was found circulating in the blood of both pregnant and non-pregnant women.

The study also detected the toxin in fetal blood. Cry1Ab toxin was detected in 93 percent and 80 percent of maternal and fetal blood samples, respectively, and in 69 percent of tested blood samples from non-pregnant women.

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Special thanks to Wikipedia, located at:  http://www.wikipedia.org

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