Happy, early G.M.O. awareness day everyone. I was supposed to post this on the 15th, so sue me. While there are varying degrees of information on this subject I believe that it is of the utmost importance to grasp the basics first. Speaking of such, I’m sure you realize that our genes are basically code carriers. According to dictionary.com gene n.d., “They are the basic physical unit of heredity; a linear sequence of nucleotides along a segment of DNA that provides the coded instructions for synthesis of RNA, which, when translated into protein, leads to the expression of hereditary character.”
A wonderful world
What it all boils down to is, our genes are actually the storage compartments for data that proteins will retrieve for correcting, fixing, and building various issues that go on within our cells. Which means that they are directly linked to how our physiology is constructed. On top of that, these genes just so happen to contain the right parts for the job to fix the problem if there was no interference of any kind. Basically, say for instance, with gluten intolerance there are some missing components from the genes present in order to break down this sugar, therefore the process to do so has the inability to be initiated and you have great discomforts when you try to enjoy those wheat products.
Let’s just be a little hypothetical here and say your genes were altered in a way in which your genes were now coded in a way that the body would now respond to your dysfunctional genes as if all of the components were present for you to now enjoy as much gluten as you wished. This would be absolutely great, would it not?
Because it is such a revolutionary breakthrough this procedure now becomes blessed off by the FDA and all gluten sufferers in the USA can enjoy all of the wheat that they wish with no horrible side effects. This is truly a step forward for mankind is it not? We have solved a major problem with a simple solution of just tinkering with the molecular structure of the body so that it will now do something it would not do even though the components for it to naturally do so are still missing. I’m sure all of you keen folks out there are beginning to feel I’m setting you up. Well you are absolutely right. So just hold on to that thought for a moment.
A word about Detergent
On that note, let’s discuss an enzyme produced by bacteria by the name of subtilisin (Mason, 2006). It just so happens to be known as a protease, meaning it is a protein-digesting protein (Mason, 2006). You may wonder just how such a thing would be of any interest to you? Well, how are you going to clean those protein soiled (Mason, 2006) clothes, that you are hopefully not wearing, I might add? Hmmm…. makes you think for a moment.
You see in order to improve the potency of laundry detergents many a company has used subtilisin in their detergents but one little anomaly was throwing a wrench in the works of the advertising campaigns of the benefits of having this additive . . . bleach (Mason, 2006). So to make a long story short they realized the amino acid methionine at position 22 of the subtilisin molecule was being oxidized by the bleach and therefore inactivated the entire protein (Mason, 2006). Through the process of mutagenesis of the subtilisin gene in E.coli, yes I will say that one again, E. coli, they were able to convert the methionine into a variety of other amino acids and the end state of that was a protein that had a high resistance to bleach (Mason, 2006).
Don’t Fix It
Let me ask you this, did the true underlying problem get solved in either case, with the gluten intolerance and with the e coli? Please take a good moment to think about it. We seem to have two opposing scenarios but really they are somewhat one in the same. In the case of the gluten intolerance there is likely a missing amino acid or acids. In the case of the E coli everything that should be present is, but it just throws a wrench in the works of manufacturers. In both scenarios we have altered the gene itself in order for the end state to be that of which is most desired. Are you following me? Your same genes are altered without the addition of the missing amino acids and with the E coli the amino acid was transformed into something else entirely to get the job done. So if you consider the alteration of things as they naturally occur to achieve a state that would not otherwise be attainable, a solution to a problem, I would say that I do agree with you.
On the other hand, would it be safe to assume that it is likely that we have also created the potentiality for a new problem? Let’s just say I was just disgusted at the fact that I was not able to place my hand on an activated stove burner due to the excruciation of pain it inflicted. Therefore, I get the wonderful idea to modify my genes so that they no longer produce any substance P, and now I am a super human and no longer feel any pain. I’m sure it doesn’t take much thought to come up with a very long list of the potential hazards of undergoing such an operation. You probably would think I was crazy to do such a thing and perhaps a walking zombie or some type of mutant right? Either way it is a safe enough assumption that while we have solved one problem we have easily created another of even greater proportions.
Although that scenario yielded more of an obvious deduction, the question is, isn’t or shouldn’t the concern be just as great in the event of the alteration of your own genes to process gluten or that of the E coli to resist the bleach? It is even a safe speculation that in the interim that the internal impact on the physiology would be subtle at best. So, what about over the course of a few years or a decade or so? Do you think that it is inevitable that you will never feel the repercussions of such an alteration?
So what about the food that you consume? While it may be a wonderful thing that your cabbage or rutabaga for that matter is now naturally resistant to certain pests because its genes are altered, does that mean it is really fit for continual consumption without consequences over the years? Why am I saying this? Well because neither you nor I can really answer that question without any reservations. So the next question is, how worth the risk do you think it is to play this little game of dietary roulette with the health of you and your family? Take a minute or two to think about that one. So does it begin to make a little more sense for a push for such produce to be labeled for the masses to make an informed decision rather than have it fly in under the consumer dietary radar?
While I could have so easily joined the popular Monsanto bashing campaign and put up a picture or two with an orange growing three arms and glowing or a dog eating his GMO bone and squawking like a chicken, I’ll leave that for some of my peers. I wish to leave you with the serious thought of, if it ain’t broke than why fix it in the first place. Isn’t that what the creation of GMO’s really boils down to? Consumers demand a solution and big businesses and small alike jump into the foray to provide a solution but at what cost? Regardless of whether you foresee the potential cost to be affordable or not, in the long run it is certainly something that I would urge you to take into consideration when you go shopping to provide for your loved ones.
As I wrap this up let me leave you with something else to think about. Some of the reasons why you don’t think there may be any interim effects from the genetic alterations of foods that you are consuming has to do with:
- The body of your average American is already dealing with the daily siege of multiple medications.
- The body of your average American is already dealing with the daily siege of stress from their highly accelerated lifestyle.
- The body of your average American is already dealing with the daily siege of Electro Magnetic Bombardment from their affinity to the latest technology.
- The body of your average American is already dealing with the daily siege of poor nutrition from the lack of a good diet.
- The body of your average American is already dealing with the daily siege of the cosmetics (deodorants, lotions, perfumes, colognes, etc…) that poison their blood on a daily basis.
So while you may say that hey I don’t feel any of the subtle effects from this modified produce, is it seriously likely that you really would take much notice, under all of that daily bombardment you are constantly dealing with?
gene. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved April 12, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gene
Mason, H. (2006, August 14). http://photoscience.la.asu.edu/Photosyn/courses/BIO_343/lecture/protein.html. Retrieved February 24, 2009, from http://photoscience.la.asu.edu: http://photoscience.la.asu.edu
Julian Cox is the founder of Seize it Health Matters, a company dedicated to helping people reconnect with themselves and their environment, empowering them with the information they need to make a more well rounded decision in the face of the conflicting information of health and nutrition and provide them with the inspiration to do something for themselves and assist them in achieving their goals of alleviation from their painful state. Based in Spanaway, WA he works with clients by phone, Skype and in person. His practice is focused on helping individuals who are suffering from chronic pain reconnect with themselves and understand the triggers that are contributing to their condition. This is achieved through teaching the individual how to be more in tune with their own body and give them the encouragement, tools and knowledge so that once the program is complete they will be able to continually help themselves maintain a greater level of alleviation than they have known, as he is doing for his own chronic condition. You can learn more about Julian and his services at www.seizeithealthmatters.com. You may also visit his online store at www.cafepress.com/bnspired1.