An Australian Scientist has warned on the dangers of a new technology utilized to produce genetically modified wheat.
Professor Heinemann, from the University of Canterbury, warned that one of the genetically modified wheat varieties currently in development has the potential to cause a deadly disease that attacks the liver.
Safe Food Foundation Director, Scott Kinnear, University of Canterbury Professor, Jack Heinemann, and Flinders University Professor, Judy Carman, discuss the potential threats of CSIRO’s GM Wheat in a video exposing the potential harm. The video can be accessed here.
“What we found is that the molecules created in this wheat, intended to silence wheat genes, can match human genes, and through ingestion these molecules can enter human beings, and potentially silence our genes.” ~ Prof. Jack Heinemann
The basis of the technology is the suppression of an enzyme in wheat production which is similar to the human enzyme that produces glycogen.
Humans eating the wheat could find the technology suppresses glycogen production in their bodies, leading to liver failure.
Professor Heinemann’s analysis is based on his analysis of the GM technology used, which relies on RNA interference, (RNAi). RNAi’s appeal is simple: it can potentially provide a temporary, reversible off switch for genes. Unlike most other genetic modification techniques, it doesn’t require making permanent changes to the underlying genome of the target. Instead, specialized siRNAs – chemical DNA blockers based on the same mechanism our own bodies use to temporarily turn genes on and off as needed – are delivered into the target organism and act to block the messages cells use to express a particular gene. When those messages meet with their chemical opposites, they turn inert. And when all of the siRNA is used up, the effect wears off. The result would be a grain with a lower glycemic index – i.e., healthier wheat.
Professors Heinemann and Carman have warned that there is a risk that the gene silencing done to these plants might make its way into humans and wreak havoc on our bodies as the human RNA is of a similar composition. In their press conference and subsequent papers, they describe the possibility that the siRNA molecules – which are pretty hardy little chemicals and not easily gotten rid of – could wind up interacting with our RNA. The end result would be a disease mimicking glycogen storage disease IV, a super-rare genetic disorder which almost always leads to early childhood death, before the age of 5 due to an enlarged liver, cirrhosis of the liver, and failure to thrive.