Confirmed: DNA From Genetically Modified Crops Can Be Transferred Into Humans Who Eat Them


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DNAIn a new study published in the peer reviewed Public Library of Science (PLOS), researchers emphasize that there is sufficient evidence that meal-derived DNA fragments carry complete genes that can enter into the human circulation system through an unknown mechanism. (0) I wonder if the scientists at these biotech corporations have already identified this method? In one of the blood samples the relative concentration of plant DNA is higher than the human DNA.  The study was based on the analysis of over 1000 human samples from four independent studies. PLOS is an open access, well respected peer-reviewed scientific journal that covers primary research from disciplines within science and medicine.  It’s great to see this study published in it, confirming what many have been suspecting for years.

When it comes to genetically modified crops and foods, we really have no idea of what the long term effects will be on the public. The very first commercial sale of genetically modified foods was only twenty years ago in the year 1994. There is no possible way that our health authorities can test all possible combinations on a large enough population, over a long enough period of time to be able to say with certainty that they are harmless. Geneticist David Suzuki recently expressed his concern, saying that human beings are part of a “massive genetic experiment” over many years, as thousands of people continue to consume GMO’s, and it makes sense.

Advances in genome science over the past few years have revealed that organisms can share their genes. Prior to this, it had been thought that genes were shared only between individual members of a species through reproduction. Geneticists usually followed the inheritance of genes in what they would call a ‘vertical’ fashion, such as breeding a male and female -you follow their offspring and continue down the road from there. Today, scientists recognize that genes are shared not only among the individual members of a species, but also among members of different species.

“Our bloodstream is considered to be an environment well separated from the outside world and the digestive tract. According to the standard paradigm large macromolecules consumed with food cannot pass directly to the circulatory system. During digestion proteins and DNA are thought to be degraded into small constituents, amino acids and nucleic acids, respectively, and then absorbed by a complex active process and distributed to various parts of the body through the circulation system. Here, based on the analysis of over 1000 human samples from four independent studies, we report evidence that meal-derived DNA fragments which are large enough to carry complete genes can avoid degradation and through an unknown mechanism enter the human circulation system. In one of the blood samples the relative concentration of plant DNA is higher than the human DNA. The plant DNA concentration shows a surprisingly precise log-normal distribution in the plasma samples while non-plasma (cord blood) control sample was found to be free of plant DNA.” (0)

It’s not like a human being mates with an apple, banana or a carrot plant and exchanges genes. What biotechnology and biotech corporations like Monsanto have done, is they have allowed for the transfer of genes from one to the other without any regard for the biological limitations, or constraints. The problem with this is that it is based on very bad science. The conditions and biological ‘rules’ that apply to vertical gene transfer, at least those that we are aware of, do not necessarily apply to horizontal gene transfer. Biotech science today is based on the assumption that the principles governing the inheritance of genes are the same when we move genes horizontally as they are when they are moved vertically. It just goes to show that GMO’s should be subjected to much more experimentation and rigorous research before we continue to consume them.

How can our governing health authorities approve these as safe? It’s almost as if they told us they were safe, and we just believed them without questioning it. We seem to be a very gullible race, but things are changing and more are starting to question the world around them.

“One small mutation in a human being can determine so much, the point is when you move a gene, one gene, one tiny gene out of an organism into a different one you  completely change its context. There is no way to predict how it’s going to behave and what the outcome will be. We think that we design these life forms, but it’s like taking the Toronto orchestra prepared to play a Beethoven symphony and then you take some random drummers from “here” and flip them in with the Toronto symphony  and you say play music. What comes out is going to be something very very different. Publicists say that there is good intention behind GMOs, but the fact of the matter is it’s driven by money.” – David Suzuki

I personally believe the intentions go beyond money, but that’s another story.

It’s also pretty clear that DNA from food can and does end up in animal tissues and the milk products that people eat. (4)(5)

There are studies that show when humans or animals digest genetically modified foods, the artificially created genes transfer into and alter the character of the beneficial bacteria in the intestine. Researchers report that microbes found in the small bowel of people with ilestomy are capable of acquiring and harboring DNA sequences from GM plants.(1) Genetically modified crops have infiltrated animal feed since 1996, and it’s normal for them to have a complete GM diet. Studies have linked GMO animal feed to  severe stomach inflammation and enlarged uteri in pigs.

It’s also important to note that gene transfer among genetically engineered agricultural crops and surrounding native species has given rise to a highly resistant species called super weeds. According to the world health organization, gene transfer and the movement of genes from GM plants into conventional crops or related species may have an effect on food safety and food security. “This risk is real, as was shown when traces of maize type which was only approved for feed use appeared in maize products from human consumption in the United States.” (3)

The truth is, genetic engineers have never taken the reality of gene transfer into consideration when they produce these things and introduce them into the environment. As a result, we are now starting to see the consequences of genes that are engineered, particularly how they spread and alter other organisms in various environments. Watrud et al (2004) found that the herbicide-resistance transgene spread via pollen to an area up to 21 km beyond the control area perimeter and had pollinated wild creeping bentgrass.(2)

Prior to this year, governments concluded that transfer of DNA from GM crops/foods is unlikely to occur. Now we can see that they are wrong, or perhaps they had knowledge of this already? Regardless of the fact that DNA from GM foods can be transferred to humans and animals, very little is still known today and what is known does not look good. There are studies linking GMO’s and pesticides to various ailments. We’ve presented and written about them on our website numerous times, this is another article to add to the growing amount of evidence to suggest we need to halt the production of GMO’s until we conclusively know that they are safe for human consumption.

It’s not a mystery why most countries around the world have completely banned GMO’s.

 SOURCES:

(0) http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0069805

(1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14730317

(2) http://natureinstitute.org/nontarget/reports/bentgrass_001.php

(3) http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/biotech/20questions/en/

(4) http://www.food.gov.uk/policy-advice/gm/gmanimal#.UsxuFPbXFGH

http://www.mindfully.org/GE/2004/Transgenes-Human-Gut1feb04.htm

Lipton, H Bruce, The Biology of Belief. United States: Hay House INC. 2006

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CE provides a space for free thinkers to explore and discuss new, alternative information and ideas. The goal? Question everything, think differently, spread love and live a joy filled life.

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  3. Rickinreallife

    I don’t think I have read something more insulting to my intelligence since the GMO Free USA article about ge source insulin causing Type II diabetes [http://kfolta.blogspot.com/2014/06/when-liars-cross-line-gmo-insulin.html] ( Not able to link to the original post since GMO Free USA took their post down when their own readers complained how bad it was). I have to give both the Billy Madison award — if you have not seen that movie, there is a line where a moderator responds to a nonsensical answer the main character gives to a question thus “We are all now dumber for having heard it.” I am not a geneticists or have any training in relevant disciplines of science, but even to a layman like myself, the logical fallacies and sloppiness of thinking are readily apparent. Other comments below more than adequately expose this article, but I’ll add these points.

    “DNA From Genetically Modified Crops Can Be Transferred Into Humans Who Eat Them”

    Not sure what you mean by “transferred into”. The first sentence of your article is reasonably accurate. In fact, it is the only sentence in this article that is consistent with the evidence of the study. Virtually every word of the rest of your article, first and foremost its title, are not only not supported by the study or any of the others you cited but are exposed for the wreckless conjecture that they are in the comments that follow. If your title is meant to imply or lead the reader to infer that the study proves not only that potentially complete gene sequences can survive digestion but are being incorporated into our bodies cells as functioning dna, then I don’t know how to describe that other than journalistic malpractice. Fortunately, several of the commenters have a higher regard for your reader’s intellect and have explained how these inferences are nonsensical.

    You do know that the study looked for chloroplast dna. Chloroplast DNA is unique because it is separate from the DNA found in the nucleus of plant cells. It is circular and there are multiple copies of chloroplast DNA in each plant cell and it is entirely possible that larger sequences of chloroplast DNA might remain intact than nuclear DNA where transgenic sequences are inserted because of its relative abundance and circular nature. The study did not look for or find any nuclear DNA, let alone any recombinant DNA sequences. Also, the references you cited to support your statement “It’s also pretty clear that DNA from food can and does end up in animal tissues and the milk products that people eat,” actually come to the exact opposite conclusion, that it is very unclear this happens. As one commenter points out, the study referenced in the Mindfully article (I think you meant to reference it (5)) only found intact recombinant DNA sequences in patients without fully functioning digestive systems, and also found that the amount of sequences detected did not increase with consumption of foods containing that sequence, suggesting the detections may have been contamination. Your references do not make it “pretty clear”, at best they support a conclusion that it might be plausible.

    I am surprised you did not cite Zhang, et al [http://www.nature.com/cr/journal/v22/n1/full/cr2011158a.html] as it would be the most damning evidence. Zhang and colleagues claimed to find that plant miRNAs are present in the sera and tissues of various animals and that these exogenous plant miRNAs are primarily acquired orally, through food intake. Furthermore, the Zhang study claimed to find that a particular miRNA from rice was regulating the expression of certain genes in mammals. (this miRNA was from non-gmo rice by the way, which if true would make me all the more concerned about the non-gmo solanine gene scenario I describe below)Perhaps you overlooked it because a handful of attempts to replicate the study findings have failed to do so and the authors of the original study also later said they could not rule out that the miRNA detections may have been contaminants on the detection equipment.

    You do know what solanine is don’t you. The authors of the study your article is about find high levels of tomato and potato DNA in all their samples. From Wikopedia “Solanine is a glycoalkaloid poison found in species of the nightshade family (Solanaceae), such as the potato (Solanum tuberosum) and the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). It can occur naturally in any part of the plant, including the leaves, fruit, and tubers. . . . Solanine poisoning is primarily displayed by gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, burning of the throat, cardiac dysrhythmia, nightmare, headache and dizziness. In more severe cases, hallucinations, loss of sensation, paralysis, fever, jaundice, dilated pupils, hypothermia and death have been reported. . . Ingestion of solanine in moderate amounts can cause death. One study suggests that doses of 2 to 5 mg per kilogram of body weight can cause toxic symptoms, and doses of 3 to 6 mg per kilogram of body weight can be fatal.” So, when you are eating a tomato or potato, even heirloom, organically grown, you are consuming an amount of solanine, and if you eat enough, it could kill you.

    I certainly would not want the right genetic sequences from potatoes and tomatoes I eat to somehow be incorporated into my cells or those of my stomach flora and start producing solanine with any abundance. Even if we accepted that every conjecture you make here is true, your naturalistic assumption does not give me great comfort that I wont be killed by solanine producing genes long before I am killed by recombinant DNA sequences.

    • Rickinreallife

      I would temper my comment above to the extent that it is perceived as condescendingly dismissing the concept that dna fragments in food could survive digestion and end up in blood or perhaps even in tissue. In fact, I do not dismiss at all that this is plausible and if verified may have some relevance to assessing ge food safety, though probably still little practical consequence to actual safety.

      However, I do stand by my challenge to your statement “It’s also pretty clear that DNA from food can and does end up in animal tissues and the milk products that people eat,” as the current state of knowledge is anything but pretty clear. In fact, it just became even less clear. I wanted to draw your attention to the review of the published study that is the topic of your article recently published in the same source that makes a strong argument and presents evidence that the findings of potential for whole gene sequences from food in this study, may be explained by contaminant error. [http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141029141214.htm] In the article you draw conclusion from as well as other studies finding dna sequences from ingested plants, the amounts claimed to be detected are exceedingly small, parts per trillion, making the possibility that they have merely detected environmental remnants contaminating samples or testing equipment and only misinterpreted the source of the detections.

      If instead of your statement quoted above, you had said “Although not entirely clear, there is an intriging body of research that suggests DNA from food can end up in milk and animal tissues”, then that would have been truthful and responsible, and I don’t think it would have even undermined the gist of the points you made. If your title had said something like “New Research Adds Evidence that DNA Sequences From Food Can Survive Digestion and Be Absorbed in Blood — Are There Implications for Safety of GMOs?” that would have been a far more responsible title. It would have avoided inferences, (which I am not sure you refute when pressed by other commenters) that functioning whole genes could be incorporated into our cell DNA which is a far more exponential and implausible leap from the evidence of this study than just that the DNA may survive digestion and wind up in the bloodstream.

      Again, I don’t dismiss that DNA from ingested food is a phenomena that could be plausible. In fact, the broader scientific community took this and the Zhang study I cited above seriously, and there would be a lot of economic and health interests that would be delighted if it were true. But, am still not comforted by your simplistic naturalistic assertions that only recombinant ge sequences could be harmful in some manner. If the possibility of whole gene absorption from food is real, and has always occurred, I question whether safety is determined by whether or not the gene has been historically in our diet. There are all kinds of nasty genetic sequences in the food we eat even if our diet were confined entirely to heirloom food sources, that are as much or greater concern than recombinant sequences. I propose that the following link provides a better explanation of safety regardless of the manner and degree of human directed intervention in the genetic endowment of the food source and the technology utilized to achieve it. Any dna sequences from any food, ge or not, that are absorbed (if we someday reach an undisputable confirmation of this phenomenon) are of such minute amounts and there is no mechanism by which they could affect health or function in any meaningful way.
      [ http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2013/08/12/why-novel-dsrna-molecules-in-gm-food-are-of-little-to-no-concern/

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  10. Naked DNA in the blood stream…how exactly is that going to do anything without RNA and ribosomes?

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  13. Sarwar Jahangir

    The study you referred to did not support that DNA from GM food was of significance and causing any harm.

    • I get the feeling this isn’t about fact, it’s about how you “feel” about it.
      Do you want normal naked DNA in your blood stream or the icky bio-engineered DNA.

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