[permaculture] Study raises new concerns about safety of genetically modified food - Boing Boing , article in the Atlantic Monthly
Lawrence F. London, Jr.
lflj at bellsouth.net
Wed Jan 11 19:44:35 EST 2012
Study raises new concerns about safety of genetically modified food
By Xeni Jardin at 12:56 pm Wednesday, Jan 11
A study at Nanjing University in China found that ingested "microRNA"
(very small pieces of ribonucleic acid, or RNA) from plants were able to
survive digestion and influence the function of human cells.
Food columnist Ari Levaux (http://www.flashinthepan.net/)has a piece
digging into the implications, in The Atlantic
The basic idea: if this research stands up to the rigors of scientific
scrutiny, it could prove that when we eat food, we consume not just fuel
and nutrients, but information that changes us on a cellular level, and
"There is no need for, or value in testing the safety of GM foods in
humans." This viewpoint, while good for business, is built on an
understanding of genetics circa 1950. It follows what's called the
"Central Dogma" (PDF) of genetics, which postulates a one-way chain of
command between DNA and the cells DNA governs.
The Central Dogma
resembles the process of ordering a pizza. The DNA knows what kind of
pizza it wants, and orders it. The RNA is the order slip, which
communicates the specifics of the pizza to the cook. The finished and
delivered pizza is analogous to the protein that DNA codes for.
We've known for years that the Central Dogma, though basically
correct, is overly simplistic. For example: Pieces of microRNA that
don't code for anything, pizza or otherwise, can travel among cells and
influence their activities in many other ways. So while the DNA is
ordering pizza, it's also bombarding the pizzeria with unrelated RNA
messages that can cancel a cheese delivery, pay the dishwasher nine
million dollars, or email the secret sauce recipe to WikiLeaks.
Monsanto's claim that human toxicology tests are unwarranted is
based on the doctrine of "substantial equivalence." This term is used
around the world as the basis of regulations designed to facilitate the
rapid commercialization of genetically engineered foods, by sparing them
from extensive safety testing.
via The Very Real Danger of Genetically Modified Foods - The Atlantic.
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