plant chromosomes. They may interrupt normal functioning genes or change the way other genes are expressed. In this way, entirely novel protein sequences can be created through genetic engineering that would not ordinarily occur in nature.4 Products that would never appear in a naturally grown ear of corn would become expressed in high amounts as a result of promoter genes that would code for their production in a constitutive manner. The Cry9 protein found in StarLink corn, that made the Bt pesticide, was implicated in over 40 cases of severe allergic reactions.5 Unlike chemical pesticides, GE crops are living organisms that can self-replicate and contaminate wild and native crops. The Cry9 StarLink corn protein was ultimately found in a native corn variety grown in Iowa. This finding could only have come from contamination of the native corn through GE pollen.6 Numerous animal studies implicate GE corn in hepatorenal toxicity.7,8 Rats fed GE corn for 14 weeks showed a 40% increase in serum triglyceride levels and a decrease in urinary phosphorous and sodium clearance of 30%. These results were consistent and dose-dependent. Ultrastructural and histopathological studies consistently show alterations in liver nuclear structures, as well as glomerular membranes of the kidney in animals fed GE corn and soybeans.9,10 Another concern is that crops resistant to Roundup® encourage farmers to spray herbicide excessively, leading to toxicity from chemical residue. One study in Argentina did, in fact, demonstrate increased levels of glyphosate residues in Roundup® resistant soybeans which were sprayed multiple times.11 In vitro studies in human embryonic and placental cell lines show that very small levels of glyphosate induce apoptosis and act as endocrine disruptors, possibly interfering with reproductive health.12,13
What About the Benefits of Genetic Engineering?
Most claims about the benefits of GE crops fall into two categories: that GE crops will increase yields of planted crops and that certain GE crops can actually incorporate nutrients, such as vitamin A, that will improve people’s health. The claim that GE foods increase crop yields is patently false. A definitive study conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, incorporating data from 20 years of research
Continued on page 16 JULY / AUGUST 2012 | THE BULLETIN | 15