Saturday, January 21, 2012

Next Generation Of GMOs Could Be Especially Dangerous

The Next Generation Of GMOs Could Be Especially Dangerous

Did a recent scientific study just change the way we should think about the safety of genetically modified foods? According to Ari Levaux at theAtlantic, the answer is a resounding yes.

The study in question, performed by researchers at China’s Nanjing University and published in the journal Cell Research, found that a form of genetic material — called microRNA — from conventional rice survived the human digestive process and proceeded to affect cholesterol function in humans.

Levaux argues that this new study “reveals a pathway by which genetically modified (GM) foods might influence human health” which should cause us to completely revisit the question of GM crops’ safety. And he’s right to be alarmed, just a little off on the reasoning.

Let’s take a closer look at how this study applies to current GM technology, shall we?

I would argue that several studies have already suggested that existing GM foods might present a health risk. For example, this study in The International Journal of Biological Sciences found evidence that Monsanto’s Bt corn causes organ damage in lab animals. Then there’s this one which showed that GM soybeans can alter mice on the cellular level — an indication that genetically modified material survives digestion and is active in animals that consume it.

Of course, advocates of genetically modified foods will observe that the phenomenon of genetic transfer through consumption applies to all plants and that GM foods are therefore “substantially equivalent” to non-GM foods. As Levaux explains at length, this concept of substantial equivalence has been used by the biotech industry as well as our government to push GM foods through safety testing with minimal scrutiny. What’s Monsanto’s defense of all this? On its website, the company claims:

There is no need to test the safety of DNA introduced into GM crops. DNA (and resulting RNA) is present in almost all foods … DNA is non-toxic and the presence of DNA, in and of itself, presents no hazard … So long as the introduced protein is determined to be safe, food from GM crops determined to be substantially equivalent is not expected to pose any health risks.


So the fact that the Chinese team found active genetic material going from plants to humans isn’t really new and doesn’t really change what we know about how existing genetically engineered crops might affect us.

But what is new — and what Levaux missed — is that the Chinese study happens to involve exactly the kind of genetic matrieral — microRNA — that biotech companies hope to use in their next generation of genetically modified foods.

Today’s GMOs are almost entirely based on adding new genes to crops like corn, soy, and cotton in order to alter the way the plants function. And even then new functions are mostly limited to making plants either able to tolerate herbicides or to produce their own. But if biotechnology companies are successful in their efforts, there may soon be genetically modified foods that use microRNA — simply put, snippets of RNA whose potency were only discovered around a decade ago — to target, and block the function of specific genes in pests.

Thus the news that plant microRNA can survive digestion and affect human systems brings into question the wisdom of pursuing this kind of technology in food."
End of excerpt.
I have to say it: It is frightening to me that Monsanto is being allowed to pursue this with their track record. This takes GMOs to a whole new and potentially dangerous level. Silencing genes without knowing the consequences and or effects on the crop, humans and the environment as a whole is reckless to the extreme. And the premise of "substantial equivalence" I am sure would be applied to this as well without proper testing. I am going to be researching this more and will continue to provide information on it whenever I find it.

Article From The Atlantic

"There is no need to test the safety of DNA introduced into GM crops."

This line to me is a confession. They either know it is dangerous down the line and or they just don't care.They know splicing genes from one species into another is risky and irresponsible.They know it may welll lead to health and environmental complications, genetic contamination and perhaps even worldwide famine if these traits fail or mutate due to their monoculture mania and certain environmental factors. Yet, they persist with the aid of the government of the U.S. and it's 1% backers. I really try not to get caught up in what others in their haste might call "conspiracy theories," but this has all the earmarks of an assault on the masses in order to gain control of their lives and livelihoods through their food. And you can be sure any candidate running for president in ths U.S. in this election now is just as beholding to Monsanto as any before.

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