Study raises new concerns about safety of genetically modified food

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110 Responses to “Study raises new concerns about safety of genetically modified food”

  1. CharredBarn says:

    Why even report this if the study has yet to stand up to the “rigors of scientific scrutiny?” Oh, yeah. Alarmism sells.

    • Cowicide says:

      You’d prefer the head-in-the-sand approach better?

      CharredBarn, the issue has been subjected to some scientific scrutiny thus far.  Ironically, you’re the one going out on the extreme by misrepresenting the facts and promoting this as pure, baseless FUD when that’s not the case.

      The issue does need far more research, but some has been done already despite your claims and Monsanto’s ire.   Entities like Monsanto are the purveyors of FUD, maybe save some of your concern trolling for them?

      • CharredBarn says:

        I never said that no research has been done on this question. That I said that is pure invention on your part.

        The linked article and this post both say that the study has not yet been stood up to the rigors of scientific validation, and that once it does it COULD prove something. So how am I misrepresenting facts by what I said? 

        BTW, I am not bothered by the whole “concern trolling” crack. You obviously live in a world where disagreement backed up by reasoned argument is a form of heresy. Sorry, I don’t share your religion.

        • Cowicide says:

          CB, I live in a world where I’d rather know about these studies than keep my head in the sand…  And, then make up my own mind.

          Nowhere will you see where I’ve stated that I believe the article is valid or the study for that matter.  And, as you’ve already said, both Xeni and the article makes it clear that nothing has been proven, so I don’t understand all the angst.  I agree that the Atlantic’s choice of headline was awful, though.  Stay proud.  Stay butthurt.

  2. Isn’t it just as possible that DNA from a non-GM food could lead to micro-RNA working in the same fashion?

    • Guest says:

      Nope. But rhetorically it sounds convincing. Go with it.

      • simonster says:

        Unless I’m missing something, this is precisely what the article cited actually shows: that miRNA from ordinary non-GM rice can alter metabolism in mice. This could mean that GM foods are different from their non-GM cousins in ways that we have not previously recognized and may merit further investigation. This could also mean that non-GM foods besides rice also have hitherto unrecognized effects upon metabolism.

        • Cowicide says:

          simonster, quit stating facts and making sense.  You’ll be accused of being an alarmist in short order.

          • CharredBarn says:

            Haha. I guess this is a veiled crack at my earlier comment.  I suggest you reread Simonster’s comment again. I think you may have had a (temporary) failure of comprehension, because his point is that nothing in the article distinguishes non-GM foods from GM foods vis-a-vis their actual effects on metabolism. 

            Haven’t read the article, so I can’t vouch for this interpretation.

          • Cowicide says:

            CB, ironically it’s you that had a failure in comprehension.  I guess you missed the part:

             ” … This could mean that GM foods are different from their non-GM cousins in ways that we have not previously recognized and may merit further investigation. … “

          • Ian Anthony says:

            Did you keep reading the comment?

            “This could also mean that non-GM foods besides rice also have hitherto unrecognized effects upon metabolism.”

          • Cowicide says:

            Did you keep reading the comment?

            Yes, I did keep reading.  That sentence doesn’t vanquish his own previous sentence that says there might be merit for further investigation… so what’s your point?

        • tristis says:

          You are correct. The paper says nothing about GM crops at all. I can see how this research suggests that we might want to look more closely at the health effects of plant miRNA — both GM and non-GM — but it’s a shame that it’s being spun in such a fear-mongering way. The problem that people should be focusing on re: GM crops is patents and the legal bullying perpetrated by large agricultural corporations, not health.

    • coffee100 says:

      Straw man rampages through produce section.  Dozens of tomatoes and at least one turnip missing.  Film at 11. 

      • WorthWords says:

        Acutally, that’s what the opening line says “plants were able to survive digestion and influence the function of human cells” it doesn’t say GM. GM plants are beneficial genes from one plant inserted into another in order to provide more durable crops – unless the genes contain new sequences that contain new microRNA then you are not actually introducing any new ones to a species. 

    • GrumpyMrGruff says:

      Considering that the Nature study looked at the effect of a non-transgenic rice miRNA on animals by feeding rice to mice, I would say the answer is yes.

    • AnthonyC says:

      Yes, that would seem quite natural. However, for non-GM foods, any such effects would have already been going on for a long time (such foods are “Generally recognized as safe.”). For GM foods this could, possibly, mean that the inserted genes would affect your metabolism in all sorts of untested ways.

      Personally, though, I expect that nearly all GM foods will turn out to be very safe, and I make no special attempt to avoid them.

  3. Christopher says:

    “There is no need for, or value in testing the safety of GM foods in humans.”

    It must be nice to be so omniscient as to know exactly what conclusions will be reached by scientific inquiry. In fact having such far-reaching knowledge negates the need for scientific inquiry. Why are we wasting precious time and money on research studies when executives at Monsanto already know everything?

  4. tyger11 says:

    You are what you eat.  :)

  5. Pliny_the_Elder says:

    How do you jump from a study that suggests miRNAs can survive digestion to freaking out about GMOs? Not that Monsanto isn’t at the cartoon-villain level of evil yet (it is), but to make a connection there has to be a study comparing miRNA expression between GMO and non-GMO food. Until then, this is a great example of the awful state of science journalism.

  6. guiltyfeet says:

    This is crazytown.  If you actually read the AM article (I have) and the study itself (ditto), then the incredibly weak link between the two should be quite evident.  It saddens me that this stuff is posted as some sort of substantiated evidence when really it is nothing more than an opinion piece by a RESTAURANT REVIEWER.

    • Cowicide says:

      If you actually read the AM article (I have) and the study itself (ditto), then the incredibly weak link between the two should be quite evident.

      So, guiltyfeet…  Xeni posted this about about an hour & a half before your post.

      You breezed through a nearly 13,000 word study and came to this “quite evident” conclusion in less time?

      Interesting.

      • tristis says:

        One does not need to read every detail of the paper to understand the gist of it. Look at the abstract. Look at what they actually did. And show me one place in the paper that says anything at all about GM crops. That’s not what this paper is about, and even the Atlantic piece indirectly acknowledges as much once you get past the sensationalist headline.

        • Cowicide says:

          And show me one place in the paper that says anything at all about GM

          How about two? …and their corresponding references?

          ” … Previous studies have reported that the transfer of genetic material from one species to another may modulate the cellular functions of the recipient species … “

          http://www.nature.com/cr/journal/v22/n1/full/cr2011158a.html#bib51

          ” … Plant miRNAs are 2′-O-methyl modified on their terminal nucleotide, which renders them resistant to periodate … “

          http://www.nature.com/cr/journal/v22/n1/full/cr2011158a.html#bib22

          ——

          Sorry, but it’s a nearly 13,000 word study and I’m drilling through it as fast as I can… Are you?

          • simonster says:

            The first quote is used to introduce the idea that plant miRNAs could have an effect in the human genome, and it’s presented with two examples: human miRNAs targeting viruses and parasitic plants targeting other plants. This isn’t GM; it’s exogenous genes modifying system-level function.

            The second is a feature of all plant miRNAs. I guess in a really literal sense there is “genetic modification” going on, since the plant is modifying its own miRNAs.

          • cmpalmer says:

            I don’t think those references mean what you think they mean.

            In the first quote, the studies referenced are about virii and prions bringing foreign genetic material into the cell. miRNA (as Emily writes in the rebuttal) is not “genetic material” in those senses. Neither are they GM.

            In the second quote, the plant miRNAs being “modified” on their terminal nucleotide doesn’t imply artificial modification, but a difference between them and other (animal?) miRNA. In this case, this difference prevents them from being disassembled during digestion.

          • CharredBarn says:

            You’re also spinning as fast as you can. Impressive.

          • Cowicide says:

            Thank you, simonster & cmpalmer.

            CharredBarn, are you still butthurt?

      • guiltyfeet says:

        Yes, that is correct.  13,000 words?   Should that take longer than an hour-and-a-half to read? 

        You should read it for yourself.  It’s a really fascinating study that suggests that inter-species communication may be going on in ways that we’ve never conceived of.  Yes, the implications are far reaching, but I assure you that nowhere in that study is it suggested (or anywhere else for that matter) that GMOs are anymore likely to have any type of effect on humans or otherwise.  The author of the AM article is making a huge leap in his conclusion.  Shame on Xeni and Boing Boing for not recognizing this.

        • Cowicide says:

          Yes, that is correct.  13,000 words?   Should that take longer than an hour-and-a-half to read?

          Yes, if you are to really read through it in detail, check out the Figures, some references links, etc.

          So, guiltyfeet, you started reading this study (in detail, including figures and some references) literally as soon as you saw this article from Xeni (the second she posted it) and finished it just before your posting without reading anything else?  Is that what you’re trying to tell me?  Speaking of FUD….

          • guiltyfeet says:

            I don’t understand what is so hard to believe about reading a 10 paragraph study in the time that it took you to apparently gloss over the same material and come up with your own conclusions.

            I see you’ve found two examples from the study that seem relevant to your argument.  Without having to go through the trouble of condensing my argument down to a size and format that you are willing to actually read,  I will simply assure you that they are not.

            If you are still unsure of the facts that have been repetedly presented to you here and within other threads that you have posted, please see critique made by a person who has some actual background evolving the matter:

            http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2012/01/homologous_recombinaltion_tini_2.php

          • Cowicide says:

            I don’t understand what is so hard to believe about reading a 10 paragraph study in the time that it took you to apparently gloss over the same material and come up with your own conclusions.

            You’re apparently also merely glossing over my posts instead of reading them if you think I’ve come up with “conclusions”.

            Once again, shrill folks… I haven’t stated anywhere that I thought the article or study was valid and “proven”.  Sheesh..

            Thanks for the link. I read it already earlier…

            He says that physiologically it seems unlikely, but nothing definite. So what’s the harm in further study, then? I don’t get it.

  7. Roscoe says:

    Finally, we have an answer for this in California!  I sure hope we can get this passed
    http://www.labelgmos.org/
     

  8. chips says:

    Don’t forget almost all food we eat is genetically modified from its ‘natural’ state (ie as it evolved before humans messed with it).  People have been using a technique called Artificial Selection for many millennia now to select the traits (ie genes) they want and eliminate the ones they don’t want.  Should we now all stop eating broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc and go back to eating wild Brassica?

    • Cowicide says:

      Wow, chips… what a way to throw science to the wind.  To act like there’s no difference between classical plant breeding and direct genetic modification is absolute FUD on your part.

      You’re not helping your side, just so you know.

      • Grey Eyed Man of Destiny says:

        It’s always about sides with some folks

        • Cowicide says:

          I sometimes eat broccoli as the main course. ;D

          Anyway, aside from that… I’m just saying throwing FUD in the air certainly doesn’t help to clear the air.

          If you think the article is based upon flimsy science then it certainly doesn’t help to chuck more FUD into the mix.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Selection and cross-breeding come with their own built-in parameters. That’s why you can’t produce a child by screwing a donkey, no matter how many times you try. GM can remove those limits.

      • DeargDoom says:

        If I eat GM food my donkey will get pregnant? Yikes!

      • mkultra says:

        Antinous, if that were true, how could you explain the existence of Rick Santorum?!

        • TheHowl says:

          We’ve been calling him Rick ‘man on dog’ Santorum for a while now. Only now have we realized that he’s really trying to prevent genetically-modified dogman offspring!

          • elix says:

            Rick Santorum secretly fights to save us all from dogmen, nobly keeps the world from ever finding out about the menace or his massive role in averting it. Egad, this man is a hero!

            *gag* I hope this gets likes, because that physically hurt to type.

      • dioptase says:

        One of the built in parameters is mutation.  You can wait for a natural mutation (from radiation or transcription error) or do what breeders have been doing for almost a century: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutation_breeding

        Yeah, those are foods you are probably buying as Certified Organic.

        —-Caution—Opinion follows—-

        Somehow I feel a bit better about GM foods that have targeted changes using known genes as opposed to mutation breed foods that create never before seen genes.  And I’ll happily eat both knowing that plants create toxins anyways to keep critters like you and me from eating them.  Out digestive process ain’t chemically pretty.

    • Marko Raos says:

      Not really relevant. Artificial selection is a long term process and humans adapt to the these changes as well over many generations, basically in parallel with the changes in foodstuffs themselves. Genetic modification is much faster and there is no time for this adjustment process.
      It is completely wrong to equate selection process (whether natural or artificial) and direct genetic modification from any ecological or wider biological perspective.

      • justawriter says:

        “humans adapt to the these changes as well over many generations”
        Europe was inundated with a huge range of new foods that were never seen before 1492 including tomatoes, corn, potatoes and all beans except favas and soybeans. This was a much bigger change in diet than any genetic modification I’m aware of. Are you saying there was a huge die off of Europeans as they adjusted to the bizarre genetics of these new foods? I mean, two of them are members of the deadly nightshade family, so it must have been horrific. Funny how you don’t read about it in the history books.

  9. coffee100 says:

    It just goes to show that there is no common sense that cannot be shouted down.  Even something as self-evident as the safety of natural food has to be vigorously litigated.

    The solution to GM food is simple: mandatory labeling. Let the customers decide.

    • Garrett Eaton says:

      Actually, we should let science decide.

      • Ito Kagehisa says:

        The reason we don’t label GMO foods is to prevent scientific analysis.

        If you don’t know what you have and haven’t eaten, and the data is purposely obscured, you can’t easily analyze for patterns.

        If you truly believe in the scientific method and/or functionally regulated capitalism, you should strongly support mandatory content labeling, because neither science nor capitalism is capable of functioning properly when data is purposely hidden or destroyed.

    • Puck SR says:

      Common sense is typically a term used by people who believe something but cannot actually support it with empirical evidence or sound reasoning

    • CharredBarn says:

      “something as self-evident as the safety of natural food.”
      There are thousands of naturally occurring things that will make you sick or kill you if you eat them.No doubt, you’ll say that these are not foods, so it doesn’t refute your point that natural foods are self-evidently safe. The reason they aren’t considered foods is because of the intrepid people whjo came before us and tested those foods for consumption, to their ultimate detriment. It has nothing to do with, say, fugu, or toadstools being “self-evidently” safe for eating.

  10. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Question:  What organ has the highest concentration of neurons after the brain and spinal column?  No guessing.

  11. EvilSpirit says:

    That pearapple thing looks delicious. Can I get one without staples?

  12. jtotheizzoe says:

    It’s a good thing that “natural” foods don’t have miRNA!!!

    Oh wait . . .

    Fumbled this one, BB.

  13. Adrian Blake says:

    You know that all food has RNA in …. right?

  14. This piece was problematic from the headline to the last line, and I’ve blogged why here: 
    http://biologyfiles.fieldofscience.com/2012/01/why-did-atlantic-publish-this-piece.html

    The author of that piece made a comment yesterday on twitter about rewriting it.

  15. Puck SR says:

    Why is this entire issue getting as stupid as “Global Warming”?
    They are both highly polarized pseudo-scientific debates.  Sure, there were scientists discussing it at some point, but most of the discussion is now coming from the non-scientific community.

    Is GMO bad?  You bet.  Because it will give you cancer or do something else out of a horror movie to your body?  Probably not. 

    Scientists who want to have a discussion about the herbicide/pesticide implications of using GMO are having to shout over a bunch of activists who don’t have a grade school knowledge of biology and a bunch of conservatives who honestly don’t care.  It could be worse, Al Gore could get involved.  In the meantime, I have to read a bunch of pseudo-scientific garbage written because a science journal used a term that the author thinks MIGHT be applicable.  

    Let me simplify these types of discussions.  If you have to use the word “it just makes sense” or “obviously” to make your point…then shut up.  If your conclusions use “common sense” or you cannot point to anything approaching empirical evidence….then shut up.  If you have to reference research that is dubious at best(and you know this), ….then SHUT UP.

  16. Grey Eyed Man of Destiny says:

    Doesn’t boingboing (and the Atlantic) have a science editor for stuff like this? As a genetic researcher, I’m having a very hard time gleaning from that paper any evidence against GMO’s. 

    Anti-GMO crowd: please isolate your hatred for Monsanto (yes, they’re evil, we know) from your skepticism towards GMO’s. Separate issues. 

    Label fanatics: understand that “genetically modified” (like “organic”) is a very complex, nuanced, and blurry definition. I challenge any of you to provide an explicit, testable definition that could be used to describe produce. 

    And, ffs, entire world: this shit is really, really complicated. I don’t have a firm grasp on the nuances of it, and I work in a closely related field. This is not to say that researchers are grasping at straws; it just takes a specialist to grasp all the complexities. I do see GM crops as having enormous potential for the alleviation of malnutrition, and as such I’ve found the popular reluctance to explore their possibilities to have a tinge of that old motif of first world “comfort issues” supplanting a potential response to third world tragedies (a bit like DDT and the malaria eradication effort). 

    • DeargDoom says:

      Surely it is possible to reasonably be sceptical of GM crops’ potential purely because it is being driven by entities like Monsanto though.

      I am not particularly worried that eating GM food carries any inherent health risk. At the same time, I am dubious that GM crops will realise the potential often ascribed to them while the likes of Monsanto own the IP rights. I think it is more likely that a strong profit incentive could result in serious long term harm.

      • One of the big problems is that due to the pressure from the anti-GMO camp, approval of GMOs is long and expensive process that only big multi-nationals can afford.. Small biotech companies and universities have GM stuff sitting on their “shelves” that they can’t afford to get approved due to the high financial costs. So, in their zeal to get GMOs eliminated, the anti-GMO folks have allowed companies like Monsanto to control it.  It’s the law of unintended consequences.  

        • Cowicide says:

          One of the big problems is that due to the pressure from the anti-GMO camp, approval of GMOs is long and expensive process that only big multi-nationals can afford.. Small biotech companies and universities have GM stuff sitting on their “shelves” that they can’t afford to get approved due to the high financial costs. So, in their zeal to get GMOs eliminated, the anti-GMO folks have allowed companies like Monsanto to control it.  It’s the law of unintended consequences.

          Please, get real….

          Blaming “regulation” for all the ills in the world is getting really, really old.

          Don’t you think this might have just a little bit more to do with Monsanto’s business practice of squeezing competitors, controlling smaller seed companies and general corruption with shady license agreements?

          Sources, facts, evidence (to ignore or otherwise):

          http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/aug/28/dupont-monsanto-trade-barbs-over-competition/?page=all

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/13/monsanto-squeezes-out-see_n_390354.html

          • Yes, M0nsanto is evil.  That’s a given. But if the game was changed to let smaller companies and universities into the game, you would have competition. If you would look at all the science based data on GM you would see that it isn’t dangerous. And yes, it is the regulation that is keeping small companies and universities from getting in the game. I’ m getting so sick of this BS about Monsanto when the real issue is that people don’t get that GM isn’t Frankenfoods.  GMO wasn’t invented by Monsanto. It was invented by independent scientists. Look at what the actual science is. I’m getting tired of people who only believe science when it fits their belief system. I’ll bet you agree with global warming but not GMO? Why not? The science of GM was created, not by Monsanto, but independent scientists. Sorry to be redundant. 

          • Cowicide says:

            @berniemooney:disqus 

            Yes, M0nsanto is evil. That’s a given. But if the game was changed to let smaller companies and universities into the game, you would have competition.

            Look again at that second link I posted up there.

            Also, you should take a look at this:

            Crop Scientists Say Biotechnology Seed Companies Are Thwarting Research

            ” … The Times reported that because of draconian intellectual property laws, scientists can’t grow GMO crops for research purposes without gaining permission from the corporations that own the germplasm—permission which is sometimes denied or granted only on condition that the companies can review findings before publication. … ”

            http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/20/business/20crop.html

            Now if you’re talking about changing intellectual property laws… good luck with that. Monsanto has been drastically ramping up its donations to both parties (especially republican) since 2002.

            http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?cycle=2012&strID=C00042069

            You should also know this thwarts better research on safety testing as well. And, if not, why wouldn’t it?

            I will agree with you that intellectual property laws need to change but as you’ll see in the article linked above, the EPA said that the government required only management of the crops’ insect resistance and that any other contractual restrictions were put in place by the companies.

            So, once again, maybe we really should be taking a closer look at Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, etc. as well?

            If you would look at all the science based data on GM you would see that it isn’t dangerous.

            I think it’s more scientific to say it’s probably not dangerous.

            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300483X02004882

            And, unlike global warming, there isn’t a solid consensus:

            http://www.ijsaf.org/archive/16/1/lotter1.pdf
            [Before you flip out, Please note the distinction made between traditional agricultural crops and pharmaceutical crops (and bacterial transgenics) made in the paper.]

            Lotter’s paper shows political and corporatist power, not rigorous scientific consensus has pushed GMOs forward. He shows that a lack of regulation of GMOs stems from revolving-door ties between the industry and government (remind you of any other industries?).

            When there have been long-term trials by independent researchers, the results have been disturbing. In 2008, the Austrian government peformed a long-term animal feeding experiment which showed evidence of reproductive trouble including reduced birth, weight and fertility.

            This Austrian study was mostly avoided by United States media. I wonder why?

            Also, IAASTD asked 400 or so scientists from countries all over the world and they concluded:

            ” … Assessment of biotechnology is lagging behind development; information can be anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty on benefits and harms is unavoidable. There is a wide range of perspectives on the environmental, human health and economic risks and benefits of modern biotechnology; many of these risks are as yet unknown. … The application of modern biotechnology outside containment, such as the use of genetically modified (GM) crops, is much more contentious [than biotechnology within containment, e.g., industrial enzymes]. For example, data based on some years and some GM crops indicate highly variable 10 to 33 percent yield gains in some places and yield declines in others. … ”

            I’m getting tired of people who only believe science when it fits their belief system.

            Agreed.

            I’ll bet you agree with global warming but not GMO? Why not?

            Vastly larger, clearer scientific consensus with global climate change. Comparing the two really hurts your case.

            A huge problem is the hostility many face by even trying to tepidly ask for more independent research. You have powerful corporatist interests that have influenced many scientists in the United States. My God, just look at the tremendous hostility in this thread if you think I’m imagining things.

            Or don’t take my word for it. How about the fact that the researchers who dared question things in that article I linked to now live in fear? What’s that bullshit all about?

            As far as this article goes from Ari Levaux, I don’t like the sensationalist headline. Also, it looks more and more (even to the layperson like myself) that he really needs to have more scientists confer with him next time before he publishes something so controversial.

            But, at the same time I really think all this angst is going overboard. There are better ways to correct Ari than the blatant hostility that’s been shown here and elsewhere.

            The hostility with GMOs almost seems like a conditioned response and it’s not really helpful.

            For example:

            http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2012/01/homologous_recombinaltion_tini_2.php

            I hope some scientists who really want to filter FUD will chill the fuck out and stop with the insults and attacks and just make their points. That is, if they really want to change things instead of just showing everyone else how amazingly smart they are.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      And, ffs, entire world: this shit is really, really complicated.

      I think that’s why some people are arguing for caution.

      • VicqRuiz says:

        Should we likewise have “argued for caution” when the anti-vaccination hysteria hit the media?

        At this point in time there seems to be little more substance behind these accusations than was possessed by Andrew Wakefield or Jenny McCarthy.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          At this point in time there seems to be little more substance behind these accusations than was possessed by Andrew Wakefield or Jenny McCarthy.

          You don’t see a difference between raising an issue in a relatively new field of science and trying to get the world to stop using long-proven methods for preventing mass outbreaks of disease?

          • VicqRuiz says:

            “Raising an issue” in the context of this particular article (and yes, I read the extended version) seems to amount to exclaiming “Wwwwooooo!!!  Monsanto!!! Scarrrryyyyy!!!”, which is not much different from “Wwwwooooo!!!  Big Pharma!!! Scarrrryyyyy!!!”

      • Grey Eyed Man of Destiny says:

        Hey now Mr. Mod, that’s not entirely fair. We both know that that sentence relied on the following sentence, “This is not to say that researchers are grasping at straws; it just takes a specialist to grasp all the complexities” to express my point. I’m arguing that most of the conversation we hear about GMO’s sounds a bit like bike mechanics arguing about how poorly designed the International Space Station is. Though it may be elitist and technocratic, I do believe this is a realm where we should keep the grown-up discussion away from the kid’s table. 

  17. Mirko Tavosanis says:

    Oh, my. So it’s safer not to eat anything containing RNA, right? Mud pies should be safe, though?

    • bja009 says:

      Only if you first strain out all the mites and nematodes and stuff.

      • Mirko Tavosanis says:

        Oh, right. Salt and rocks should be a safer option, then… and maybe the staples on the apple/pear are safe, too.

    • Marko Raos says:

      Depends which RNA. Don’t confuse the issue. The thing is that obviously RNA does get into the human organism and it does influence it. This is a new thing. Don’t be arrogant know it all. Who knows how many things we don’t know? Maybe RNA absorption is a crucial part of human nutrition that we don’t anything about just like we didn’t know anything about vitamins?
      In that case, GMO RNA becomes an issue. As well as all food processing which alters or destroys RNA in food.
      The point is, we don’t know. And if you think that you know it all that is to be known then you are simply a bad scientist.

  18. tyger11 says:

    I look forward to being Roundup Ready(tm), but I wonder if I would have to buy any future children I would want to have from Monsanto.

    • TimRowledge says:

      For all the jokiness in that post, you’re pretty much hitting the nail on the head of the big practical problem with GMOs; whether they are safe or not is something that can be established through proper studies BUT the business side has built a legal and financial stranglehold that starts by making sure no studies can be done without risk of interference and continues into the farce of trying to prosecute farmers whose crops have been hybridised by a neighbouring farmer’s GMO crops.
      It’s like nuclear power; I’m fairly sure that safe and efficient nuke power is possible from an engineering standpoint but I can’t imagine any business or govt. setup that would provide a trustworthy overall industry. At least, not without imagining trustworthy businesses and we know what the odds of those are.

      • Cowicide says:

        Tim, it’s amazing how some of the people in this thread can’t seem to wrap their heads around what you’re saying there.  Thanks for trying though.

  19. cmpalmer says:

    Instead of making me immediately be (more) suspicious of GM food, this research should make people even more aware of what we’re missing in overly processed foods. If it turns out that we get several different micro-RNA types from foods we ingest (and another paper in Nature suggests that we do), then what are we missing when we have HFCS instead of corn or apple “juice drink” instead of an apple? Ingesting a concoction that contains all of the known nutrients of a whole food is now looking even less like eating the whole food itself.

  20. justawriter says:

    An actual scientist read the article: 
    http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2012/01/homologous_recombinaltion_tini_2.php
    Money quote: “he is a total douche bag, just as proud of his scientific ignorance as any Creationist I’ve seen.”

    • Cowicide says:

      He also says physiologically it seems unlikely, but nothing definite.  So what’s the harm in further study, then?  I don’t get it.

      • Abigail Smith says:

        Research time and research dollars are not infinite, and we currently have *zero* evidence that microRNA is doing any kind of harm via food, much less GMO food, to warrant any kind of ‘further study’.

        Ari is functionally a random person on the internet jumping to scientifically nonsensical conclusions based on his own personal political position and his own personal scientific illiteracy.  This does not warrant ‘further study’ in the scientific community.  If actual science turns up that what they found in the original paper is valid, scientists will investigate it, I assure you (personally, I want to capitalize on it for therapeutic purposes).  But as of now?  No.  Will be investigate it because we currently share the concerns of Ari?  Definitely no.

        If you want to learn more about this issue from plant geneticists (Im just a virologist with very little patience for people like Ari), check out these two sites:
        http://scienceblogs.com/tomorrowstable/
        http://www.biofortified.org/

        –Abbie, aka ERV

  21. Kaveh says:

    The image of an apple and pear stapled together is moronic.  Hybrids between two related species are not an issue in genetically modified food.

    • Cowicide says:

      Recombinant DNA molecules are DNA sequences that result from bringing together genetic material from multiple sources.

      To show an image (unless you’re a moron and take it literally) of two fruits fused together is a fine graphic for the topic.  Chill…

  22. Their feldspars says:

    You know, there’s a way to identify food that doesn’t have GMOs in it. But the USDA has done a poor job of getting the word out.

  23. WorthWords says:

    So in summary. The research had nothing whatsoever to say about GM foods. 
    Getting back to the science, microRNA is really fascinating substance. It makes sense when you think that products of DNA transcription can themselves be chemically active in a similar way to a protein based enzyme. In fact, life would have great difficulty bootstrapping if it were not for the chemically active ribozymes which help assemble the protein building apparatus which implements the ‘dogma’. 

    Given that one reason for herpes virus persistence is the production of MiRNA in the viral genome which interferes with the host cell’s apoptosis process – might we see a GM bowl of rice that treats herpes! That would be a wonderful thing.

    • Cowicide says:

      might we see a GM bowl of rice that treats herpes! That would be a wonderful thing.

      Rice will cure herpes because of Monsanto, how wonderful, indeed.

      Or maybe a nice GM bowl of rice that causes it?  Monsanto is a scumbag operation already, so why not weaponize rice while they are at it?  As long as there’s money to be made…

  24. Mm Jr says:

    That article is sloppy.

    “Chinese researchers have found small pieces of ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the blood and organs of humans who eat rice.”

    There’s RNA (microRNA and otherwise) in blood and organs regardless of diet.

    “The Chinese RNA study threatens to blast a major hole in that claim. It means that DNA can code for microRNA, which can, in fact, be hazardous.”

    It was already known that DNA encodes microRNA.

  25. pjcamp says:

    But the “snip” is also true of every single thing you eat, not just GMOs. The only way to avoid it is to become a breatharian.

    The fact is that cells have evolved mechanisms to deal with minor genetic errors like this. That’s why dental x-rays don’t lead relentlessly to oral cancer.

    It’s mainly evidence of why a food columnist shouldn’t play a scientist, not even on TV.

  26. orwell says:

    i think we’re getting a bit off topic here…  lets all settle down… 
    now where were we?  oh, yeah…  speaking of genetically modified organic compounds, what DID become of catdog?

  27. bbfan says:

    No one has ever gotten sick from any GM food that has been credibly proven by science. There is miRNA in every living tissue, plants, meats, etc that you eat. If some of can cross into the blood and effect metabolism, it has been doing so for the entire evolution of all  mammalian species. Whats the big problem? In addition to this date I don’t believe any GM food uses miRNA technology, so there is no more or less miRNA in any GM food then in it’s non-GM counterpart. A little perspective here would be good.

  28. krake says:

    someone posted in the fall that Kefir changes the DNA of the bacteria in our intestine. if that is possible, then why would it not be possible with GMO food to change them too? or us, even?

  29. Cowicide says:

    Interesting that you guys are making claims that anyone who wants a closer look at this is “alarmist”…. while at the same time, many of you are spewing a bunch of shrill hyperbole with exclamation points.

    Hmmm….

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