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Toxins from GM Crops
Found in Human Blood

by Dinesh C. Sharma

Until now, scientists and corporations promoting GM crops have maintained that Bt toxin poses no danger to human health, as the protein breaks down in the human gut. But the presence of this toxin in human blood shows that this does not happen.

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Fresh doubts have arisen about the safety of genetically modified crops, with a new study reporting the presence of Bt toxin, used widely in GM crops, in human blood for the first time.
Genetically modified crops include genes extracted from bacteria to make them resistant to pest attacks. These genes make crops toxic to pests but are claimed to pose no danger to the environment and human health. Genetically modified brinjal (eggplant), whose commercial release was stopped a year ago, has a toxin derived from a soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
Until now, scientists and multinational corporations promoting GM crops have maintained that Bt toxin poses no danger to human health, as the protein breaks down in the human gut. But the presence of this toxin in human blood shows that this does not happen.
Scientists from the University of Sherbrooke, Canada, have detected the insecticidal protein, CrylAb, circulating in the blood of pregnant as well as non-pregnant women. They have also detected the toxin in fetal blood, implying it could pass on to the next generation.  The research paper has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in the journal Reproducive Toxicology.  The study covered 30 pregnant women and 39 women who had come for tubectomy at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke in Quebec. None of the women had worked or lived with a spouse working in contact with pesticides. They were all consuming a typical Canadian diet that included GM foods such as soybeans, corn, and potatoes.
CrylAb toxin was detected in 93% and 80% of maternal and fetal blood samples, respectively, and in 69% of tested blood samples from non-pregnant women. Earlier studies had found trace amounts of the CrylAb toxin in gastrointestinal contents of livestock fed on GM corn. This gave rise to fears that the toxins may not be effectively eliminated in humans and there may be a high risk of exposure through consumption of contaminated meat.
"Generated data will help regulatory agencies responsible for the protection of human health to make better decisions," noted researchers Aziz Aris and Samuel Leblanc. Given the potential toxicity of these environmental pollutants and the fragility of the fetus, more studies are needed, particularly those using the placental transfer approach, researchers added.
Experts have warned of serious implications for India. Cottonseed oil is made from seeds of genetically modified cotton and thus Bt toxin may have already entered the food chain in India. Indian regulators should immediately call for detailed toxicological studies to know the extent of contamination of the human blood with Bt toxins coming from cottonseed oil, and also ascertain its long term health impacts.

Reprinted with permission from the Organic Consumers Association (www.organicconsumers.org). Written by Dinish C. Sharma, originally published in India Today, May 11, 2011.

October is Non-GMO Month. Details at www.nongmoproject.org Advocates for Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food are holding a 2-week "Right2Know" March from NYC to the White House to be held on Oct 1-16, 2011. Learn more at www.right2knowmarch.org


Related Info:
Organic Manifesto by Maria Rodale
The Fight Against GMOs by Jeffrey Smith
The Non-GMO Project
The Wisdom of Organic Agriculture
Pesticides: A Public Problem
Jeffrey Smith on the dangers of genetic engineering in our food supply

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