DNA from GE foods can end up in your genes

Summary

Tissues including meat of chicken who had eaten only genetically engineered Bt corn were found to contain pieces of DNA from this food. The problem however is that every cell in plant GE foods contain genetically unstable DNA from the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV) promoter. This DNA is suspected to be cancerogenic. Moreover the CaMV is related to human viruses that cause serious diseases (AIDS and Hepatitis B). The corn grains on one cob of GE corn contain hundreds of millions of such CaMV DNA.

This is just one of several studies that have established that the genes in the body may take up potentially harmful, patogenic viral DNA from GE food. It has not been proven that it is safe to ingest large amounts of such dangerous virus genes. Still the GE foods containing them has been approved for sale and are found on the shelves all over the US and other countries.


Pieces of DNA from GM Bt corn have been detectedin chicken tissues including muscles (the meat), liver, kidney and spleen.

The chicken had eaten only the Bt corn for 32 days. The DNA polymerase technique (PCR) was used. This is a standard method for identifying DNA. The Bt-gene itself was however not found. But this depends on special properties of the used examination technique according to professor Jahreis, who leads the research group at Friedrich-Schiller-Universität in Jena, Germany. "You can however reckon that there were also pieces of the Bt gene in the chicken tissues" he said.

Professor Jahreis comments that no consumer can protect himself from absorbing foreign genes. "We take up genes from all nutritiens through the so called Peyer Plaques in the gut."

Source: LifeSciene.de 03.11.00 (german)

Another german research group has demonstrated traces of Bt corn DNA in cows milk and in cow blood immune cells.

Source: (Bauernstimme 11/2000, s. 8).


Comment by PSRAST

There are reasons for serious concern

A German research group, lead by professor Walter Walter Doerfler at the university of Cologne, has repetitively demonstrated that large enough pieces of DNA to contain a gene (1000 base pairs) may survive digestion, for a brief resumé see Research Indicates that Ingested Virus Genes may be taken up by Body Cells.

Moreover Doerfler showed that these absorbed pieces of DNA were taken up in the tissues of mice and ended up inside the cells (1, 2, 3). The research was done with state of the art methods and cannot be easily dismissed. The present study confirms and extends his findings.

This is problematic as common GE foods contains a special kind of genetically unstable DNA not found in natural food. It is the DNA from CauliFlower Mosaic Virus (CaMV) used in the so called promoters that are always added to the inserted gene at genetic engineering of foods. Its purpose is to ensure that the inserted gene will be active (see "How are genes engineered?")

The CaMV is related to the virus of a serious liver disease, Hepatitis B and to the AIDS virus. It is believed that it is an animal virus that thas been transformed to a plant virus.

This CaMV virus DNA may constitute a health hazard, possibly even a cancer hazard, see "Dormant viruses can be reactivated with genetically modified organisms".

The corn grains on one cob of GE corn contain hundreds of millions of CaMV DNA, one in each cell.

Biotech proponents have maintatined that CaMV virus has since long occurred in crops that we have been eating, without causing any known health problems. But the critics point out that there is a great difference. The CaMV DNA used in genetic engineering has been modified in such a way that the risk for harmful effects is considerably greater than for natural virus DNA.

Adding to this concern is that Professor Doerfler has reported that genes from food ends up in the DNA of mouse embryos (5). A review of book of Doerfler says:

"In mammals, like in all other species, the gastrointestinal tract is constantly exposed to foreign DNA from the food supply. There is no information on defense mechanisms against foreign DNA."

The biotech proponents maintain that no obvious problems have occurred in the US from the eating of GE foods. This is a seriously dishonest and misleading argument because:

  • The GE foods in the US have not been labeled, so people have no possibility to discover any connection between GE foods and disease symptoms.

  • The genetic damage from such virus-DNA is slow-acting, so eating them does not cause any immediate symptoms even if, in the long run, they would cause a serious disease.

Conclusion

It is an established fact that in eating GE foods our own genes may take up potentially harmful, patogenic viral DNA. There is no evidence whatsoever proving that such foods are safe to eat.


References

1. W. Doerfler, R. Schubbert, H. Heller, C. Kämmer, K. Hilger-Eversheim, M. Knoblauch, and R. Remus. Integration of foreign DNA in mammalian systems and its consequences.
Review. Trends in Biotechnology. 15, 297-301, 1997.

2. R. Schubbert, D. Renz, B. Schmitz, and W.
Doerfler.Foreign (M13) DNA ingested by mice reaches peripheral leukocytes,
spleen and liver via the intestinal wall mucosa and can be covalently
linked to mouse DNA.
Proc. Natl. Acad.Sci. USA 94, 961-966, 1997.

3. Uptake of foreign DNA from the environment: The gastrointestinal tract and the placenta as portals of entry
Doerfler, W., Schubbert, R.
Wiener klinische Wochenschrift, Nr. 110, 2, 1998

4. Rainer Schubbert, Clarissa Lettmann and Walter Doerfler. Ingested foreign (phage M13) DNA survives transiently in the gastrointestinal tract and enters the bloodstream of mice. Molecular and General Genetics MGG, Volume 242, Number 5 / March, 1994

5. Walter Doerfler. Fremde DNA aus der Nahrung gelangt über den Darm in den Organismus von Mäusen und über die Plazenta in Foeten und Neugeborene. Forschung in Köln, nr 2 1998, http://www-f.rrz.uni-koeln.de/organe/presse/fik.html.

6. Foreign DNA in Mammalian Systems. Walter Doerfler (Institut f. Genetik, Univ. zu Koln, Weyertal 121, 50931 Koln, Germany), Publisher: Wiley. ISBN: 3527300899 Publication Date: 1999


"Genetically Engineered Food - Safety Problems"
Published by PSRAST

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