Genetically modified food increases the risk of allergies

allergenA new research report released by the Institute of Responsible Technology has detailed the suspected effect of genetically modified food on the immune system.

Based on statistics obtained from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extreme allergic reactions have increased over the past 15 years. It is common knowledge that a person experiencing an allergic reaction to one substance can become more vulnerable to reactions from other potential triggers until the allergen load reaches a critical threshold. As a result the person may react to many things that were tolerated before that point.

According to the institute of responsible technology the world health organization has suggested a mechanism of examining the properties of the newly expressed genetically modified protein to see if it shares characteristics with proteins that are known to trigger allergies. One method suggested is to compare the amino acid sequence of the protein with a database of allergens. If there is a match, according to WHO, the GM crop should either not be commercialized or additional testing should be done.

Using this approach it was determined that a section of the protein produced by Roundup Ready soybeans does match a sequence in a dust mite allergen; Bt-toxin protein matches an egg yolk allergen; and GM papaya protein also finds a match in the database.

The Bt protein in particular also fails two other tests recommended by the WHO. The protein remains stable for too long when exposed to heat and to simulated stomach acid and digestive enzymes.Thus, it shares the characteristic with many allergens of not being quickly degraded during digestion.In its natural state derived from soil bacteria, Bt-toxin has triggered immune responses in mice and in farm workers, and allergic- and flu-like symptoms in hundreds of exposed citizens.

The Bt-toxin is produced in GM corn by inserting the toxin-creating gene from the natural soil bacteria. It’s specifically designed to be more toxic; produced in concentrations that are thousands of times greater than the spray, and it doesn’t wash off or biodegrade in sunlight—like the natural version does. As a result an Italian government study showed that mice fed Bt corn had dramatic immune responses.Furthermore, thousands of Indian farm workers who harvest Bt cotton are also experiencing allergic-and flu-like symptoms.

When scientists exposed mice to natural Bt-toxin, not only did they react to the toxin directly, afterwards, their immune systems were triggered by substances that formerly did not cause a response. This illustrates how exposure to one GM food might cause an increase in allergies to many natural foods.

GM Bt corn, as well as GM soy and papaya, were all introduced before WHO criteria were established. Furthermore, their criteria are recommendations, not requirements. Thus, in spite of the fact that these three crops fail the allergen tests, additional in-depth tests were not conducted to confirm allergenicity and the foods remain on the market.

Studies have demonstrated that genes from foreign DNA transfer into the DNA of human gut bacteria and may thus continuously produce the protein from within intestines. This could trigger allergic reactions on a continual basis heightening the sensitivity of the immune response.

If the Roundup Ready soybean protein is an allergen, this might explain why soy allergies in the UK jumped by 50% just after GMOs were introduced in the late 1990s.51 The UK is one of the few nations to monitor allergy incidence each year, so we don’t know the results in North America.

To test the immune reaction and the ability of GMO’s to act as a trigger for the immune response Australian scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) produced a genetically engineered pea with a gene from the kidney bean.The gene produces an anti-nutrient (alpha-amylase inhibitor) that interferes with the digestive system of the pea weevil larvae, causing them to starve to death. These bug-killing peas passed all the studies that are usually conducted on GMOs before regulators wave them onto the world market.

The developers of the peas decided to test the immune response to the GM peas by supplementing mice diets with GM peas, non-GM peas, or kidney beans, then subjected the animals to a battery of tests. Only mice fed GM peas had an immune response to GM protein. In addition, the mice fed the GM peas started to react to egg albumin, while those fed non-GM peas or kidney beans did not


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