tagged w/ gene expression
A former Monsanto employee, Kirk Azevedo, came forward for an interview with Food Nation Radio Network to give our listeners insight into how Monsanto does business. During the time he was employed there with some of the best minds in the biotech industry, he became alarmed by some of the practices Monsanto used to test new GMO crops, how those crops were disposed of after testing, and more.
Dr. Azevedo left the industry and is now a chiropractor in California, but as you'll hear in this exclusive audio broadcast on Food Nation, he has grave concerns about Monsanto, their ongoing actions and their influence on government leaders.
You can listen to that audio here:
Elizabeth Dougherty has been a food writer for over 10 years, attended culinary school and holds a Bachelor’s degree, Magna Cum Laude in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations from NYIT. She has been a talk show host of nearly 150 episodes of Food Nation Radio which airs each Saturday morning at 6 on AM1010 CBS and other stations. You can read her articles and hear previous shows on her podcast page on the Food Nation Radio Network website and on Facebook.
Elizabeth Dougherty, Special correspondent, Food Nation Radio Network
July 9, 2012A former Monsanto employee, Kirk Azevedo, came forward for an interview with Food... more
NOTE: A highly informative appeal for support from the STOP GE Trees Campaign - a great organisation. For more on their work and how to get involved: http://globaljusticeecology.org/stopgetrees.php?tabs=0
Our plans for the STOP GE Trees Campaign in 2012 and our accomplishments from 2011
The years 2012 and 2013 could be the most important yet for our campaign to ban the release of genetically engineered trees (GE trees) into the environment.
* Countering Phony Sustainability Criteria: The timber industry is moving forward with plans to develop phony so-called "sustainability criteria" for GE trees. This is crucial if they want to get GE trees certified by bodies like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which would make it easier to get investors. Right now the FSC will not certify GE trees.
GE trees are not now and never will be "sustainable." They deplete soils and water, require huge inputs of toxic chemicals, replace native forests, displace biodiversity and forest dependent communities, kill beneficial insects, and worsen climate change. So in order to combat the sustainability lie, we are increasing our work to expose the social and ecological dangers of GE trees.
* GE Eucalyptus Trees in the US South: In January 2011, GE tree company ArborGen applied for permission from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sell billions of their GE eucalyptus trees for commercial plantations across seven states in the US South--from Texas to South Carolina.
We are mobilizing to ensure this never happens.
* GE Poplars in the Pacific Northwest: GE poplar trees are emerging as a major threat in California and the Pacific Northwest. Scientists at the University of Oregon and the University of Washington have received large federal grants to develop genetically engineered poplar trees for bioenergy plantations.
GE poplar trees are extremely dangerous because native wild poplars grow in forests in California and the Pacific Northwest. These native poplars could easily be contaminated with pollen from the GE poplars. This irreversible contamination would be disastrous for forests, wildlife, soils, insects and songbirds. And once GE tree contamination begins, there is no way to stop it from continuing to spread.
We will be escalating our work in the Pacific Northwest in 2012 to stop GE poplars. Let us know if you can help!
The good news--we can still stop the disaster of GE trees before it is too late. Since 1999 we havesuccessfully prevented commercialization of GE trees because of the support of people like you. You enable us to stand up against the largest timber corporations on the planet. Thank you.
Because of our success, the promoters of GE trees name GJEP as the main obstacle to their forward progress.
After we filed a lawsuit against the USDA in July 2010 over their approval of a large field trial of GE eucalyptus trees, Biomass Magazine stated that our lawsuit was scaring away investors from supporting GE tree research because no one wants to invest in a technology that is going to be tied up for years in legal battles. As a result, GE tree company ArborGen decided not to go public with their stock only days before they were scheduled to do so.
The victories of the STOP GE Trees Campaign over the years show the power of grassroots organizing, alliance building, non-violent action and our refusal to compromise.
This is the documentary, A Silent Forest, narrated by Dr. David Suzuki that lays out the threat of genetically engineered trees which are still a threat to the U.S.NOTE: A highly informative appeal for support from the STOP GE Trees Campaign - a... more
Did a recent scientific study just change the way we should think about the safety of genetically modified foods? According to Ari Levaux at the Atlantic, 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.
As explained to me by Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists and expert in genetically modified foods, microRNA technology is an area that biotech companies are actively pursuing. Monsanto itself has a whole web page devoted to the technology, which they call RNA interference.
Gurian-Sherman notes that the Chinese study — though requiring confirmation and follow-up research — raises “an initial red flag.” It calls into question “any general statement that [microRNA] technology would be inherently safe,” he adds.
He observes that humans and insects share a surprising amount of DNA material — evolution favors reusing and recycling genes even among creatures as different as insects and humans. If this research bears out, then it’s entirely possible that microRNA meant to target a specific insect gene will also have an effect — possibly unpredictable — in humans. This is especially true because, for technology like this to work as a pesticide, the microRNA must be present in high levels in the plant, which makes it even more likely the genetic material will make it all the way into the human gut.
UPDATE: Dr. Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist at Consumers Union wrote to me after this post was published with an important point about the significance of the Chinese study. While he agreed that the main implications relate to the possible risk from microRNA-based GM foods, he also felt that this study did make a new and somewhat startling finding regarding how plant genetic material affects humans. As he put it, the study “showed that the miRNA not only survived digestion [in humans] but also was taken up and moved to other parts of the body where a specific impact was noted. The studies you cited — from Seralini’s lab and Malatesta’s lab — only show that GE crops can have an adverse effect on animals.”
more at the linkDid a recent scientific study just change the way we should think about the safety of... more
In North America [as elsewhere] GM crops have been evaluated for safety based on superstition and the use of the magic words 'substantial equivalence'. The paper below shows how the numerous real differences between GM and conventional crops can be evaluated scientifically.
2.Unintended Compositional Changes in Transgenic Rice Seeds (Oryza sativa L.) Studied by Spectral and Chromatographic Analysis Coupled with Chemometrics Methods
Zhe Jiao†, Xiao-xi Si†, Gong-ke Li*†, Zhuo-min Zhang† and Xin-ping Xu§
† School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510275, China
§ Biotechnology Research Center, Key Laboratory of Gene Engineering of the Ministry of Education, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510275, China
J. Agric. Food Chem., 2010, 58 (3), pp 1746–1754 DOI: 10.1021/jf902676y
Unintended compositional changes in transgenic rice seeds were studied by near-infrared reflectance, GC-MS, HPLC, and ICP-AES coupled with chemometrics strategies. Three kinds of transgenic rice with resistance to fungal diseases or insect pests were comparatively studied with the nontransgenic counterparts in terms of key nutrients such as protein, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, elements, and antinutrient phytic acid recommended by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The compositional profiles were discriminated by chemometrics methods, and the discriminatory compounds were protein, three amino acids, two fatty acids, two vitamins, and several elements. Significance of differences for these compounds was proved by analysis of variance, and the variation extent ranged from 20 to 74% for amino acids, from 19 to 38% for fatty acids, from 25 to 57% for vitamins, from 20 to 50% for elements, and 25% for protein, whereas phytic acid content did not change significantly. The unintended compositional alterations as well as unintended change of physical characteristic in transgenic rice compared with nontransgenic rice might be related to the genetic transformation, the effect of which needs to be elucidated by additional studies.
more in the comments.In North America [as elsewhere] GM crops have been evaluated for safety based on... more
Alzheimer’s disease is a very hard disease to cope with. It not only affects the bearer of the disease, but the families as well. A person diagnosed with AD, is unwillingly entered into a death sentence of forgetfulness. The research conducted by Eric Steen, et al. investigated the characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease with any abnormal patterns related to insulin and gene expression. They hypothesized that the insulin and the insulin like growth factor expression in Alzheimer’s disease would be significantly lower than in the normal aged adult.
Eric Steen et al. received their samples from various blood banks located nationally. There samples consisted of brain tissue obtained from the brain banks. They received twenty eight Alzheimer disease brain tissue, and twenty six normal aging brain tissue. Eric Steen et. Al. determined if the brain tissues were from the “normal” aging process by reviewing the medical case studies of the “normal” aged brain tissue donors. They used various methods to measure the chemical affects of insulin and other receptors. They measured by using real time quantitative RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction). This is a great method of measuring for it can detect mRNA levels in a small sample size. They used the western blot analysis to review the amount of Akt. They used immunoprecipitation to study the “interactions between the p85 subunit of PI3 kinase and insulin receptor substrate types 1 and 2.”(E.Steen et al. pg.65).
When E.Steen et al. used the western blot analysis they found “significantly reduced mean levels of phospho-AKT “(E.Steen et al. Pg.73) this could help validate the study that is being done because AKT is involved in cell increase, programmed cell death, and diabetes. AKT was found in large numbers in the hippocampal tissue of AD Brain tissue. This research has found that insulin, and the insulin like growth factors originate from problems linked to impaired CNS growth factor production. The neurons are expressing the growth factor genes. This “raises questions and concerns about the potential benefits of peripherally administered replacement therapy.”(E.Steen et al. Pg.77) The downfall with this finding is that peripherally administered replacement therapy is the best way to administer medications without the complications of the blood brain barrier. In AD brain tissue the IGF-II expression was higher in the hippocampus area of the brain. In the control group, insulin and IGF-1 receptors were expressed at significantly greater amounts than the AD brain tissue. “In AD, insulin gene expression in the hippocampus and hypothalamus was significantly reduced relative to control (insulin gene expression was not detected in the frontal cortex.”(E.Steen et al. pg.68) This shows that AD brain tissue has a lower amount of gene expression in the areas where short term memory is stored. The human growth factor and the receptor expression were found to have significance at the .01 level when insulin was concerned. This research suggests that if AD could somehow be treated with
ligands that can increase insulin and the growth factor signaler, it can increase the life and purpose of certain neuronal cells that are at a high risk of developing AD.
My summary is from research conducted by:
“Impaired Insulin and insulin-like growth factor expression and signaling mechanisms in Alzheimer’s disease- is this type 3 diabetes?” Eric Steen, Benjamin M. Terry, Enrique J. Riviera, Jennifer L. Cannon, Thomas R. Neely, Rose Tavares, X. Julia Xu, Jack R. Wands and Suzanne M. de la Monte. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease vol. 7 (2005).
Alzheimer’s disease is a very hard disease to cope with. It not only affects... more