Unsafe for Human Consumption
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA; the EU regulatory agency that provides advice on the health and safety of foods) has unwittingly discovered that a majority of the genetic material used in the GMO foods that we see on supermarket shelves today contains the large portion of a viral gene, called simply "Gene VI."
Gene VI is arguably unsafe for human consumption and even more unsafe for the ecosystem.
Corn Causing Tumors
Of the 86 sequences of DNA that are used to augment crops in GMO foods, the study found 54 to contain this viral gene, including many popular varieties of Monsanto crops, from corn to soybeans. One line of genetically modified Monsanto corn identified in the recent EFSA study also caused tumors to grow in lab rats, so they are already in the crosshairs of food safety regulatory agencies worldwide.
The viral Gene VI is found within what is known as the "Cauliflower Mosaic Virus," which is a common gene sequence used within the GMO industry, but was not known previously to contain this additional viral DNA. The effects of the viral DNA are not entirely known at this point, but they could be problematic.
The Problem With Gene VI
This viral DNA survives by reducing a plant's natural defenses, which leaves it susceptible to other pathogens as well. This is ironic because GMO companies' whole sales pitches are that their crops are more pest-resistant.
With the knowledge that many GMO foods contain this gene, we also know that these strains are potentially more susceptible to pathogens in the long run. When GMO crops overrun their non-GMO counterparts (as many already are), it leaves the entire crop – and potentially the species as a whole – susceptible to the same pathogens. Scary.
More Problems With Contamination
A second weird thing that Gene VI does is facilitate the overproduction of certain proteins in cells with which it interacts. This causes unknown results when consumed by humans. The proteins could be an allergen, a toxin, or completely benign.
Until more studies are done into the effects of this potentially harmful gene, we only know that we need to know more.
The EFSA researchers themselves expressed in their findings that when plant DNA is exposed to Gene VI it "might result in unintended phenotype changes," which is science speak for “it might cause your plants to grow unnaturally large, start singing, and eventually eat you like in Little Shop of Horrors.” With GMOs, we just don't know anymore.
Because no one can safely assess the effects of Gene VI on the plants it is being used to modify nor the humans and other animals who consume them, many scientists are now calling for the recall of all GMO crops containing the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (and subsequently, this additional viral gene) until more studies can be done.
At this point, it is up to regulatory agencies like the EFSA and the FDA to stop the flow of genetically manipulated foods stuffed full of unknown viruses until we can adequately determine the safety of GMOs and their long-term effects on both humans and the environment.
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Saturday, 26 January 2013