(ORDO NEWS) — We are what we eat. This applies to all foods, including genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The more often we consume GMOs, the higher the risk of transgenic contamination.
It is believed that all food entering our body is fragmented into bricks, from which the body builds itself according to its program. Therefore, GMOs cannot do any harm. However, some scientists believe that this is real.
Altered DNA from GMOs can also become part of our genetic material through a phenomenon called horizontal gene transfer.
When a baby is born, its body is made up of cells that have grown from the zygote during fertilization. The newborn’s body receives building materials through the mother’s placenta and gradually grows.
In the process of life, the cells of our body are built from the material that we eat. Therefore, everything that makes up our body is obtained from the food that we have eaten.
Traditionally, organisms receive DNA from their ancestors, which is called vertical gene transfer. Horizontal gene transfer is the transfer of genetic material to another organism, which is not its descendant and is not associated with reproduction.
GMO proponents argue that horizontal gene transfer does not make games, and its impact is rare. It is believed that this phenomenon is possible only in laboratory conditions.
According to EarthOpenSource, there are several options that make horizontal gene transfer a reality. Some of them are more likely and occur easily and naturally all over the place. For example, the uptake of genes by bacteria, the uptake of DNA from the digestive tract in the body, and the transfer of genes by viruses.
Let’s take a closer look at them.
Bacteria constantly exchange DNA between themselves and the environment. Some of the acquired genes can be incorporated into their genome and lead to changes. For example, in the human intestine, DNA with transgenes can be stored in large fragments and not lose biological activity.
The bacteria present in the digestive tract can incorporate it into their own DNA. This can lead to the development of antibiotic resistance.
Also, the altered DNA can become part of the genome of soil bacteria. Every cubic centimeter of soil contains thousands of different types of bacteria, only a small percentage of which are known to science.
Some known soil bacteria are capable of incorporating DNA present in soil into their genome. Although rare, genetically modified DNA can persist in soil for up to a year, increasing the chances of transgenic ingestion.
A special case is Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens is often used to introduce foreign genes into plants in the production of GMOs. As a result of infection with A. tumefaciens, small circular DNA molecules (Ti plasmids) are introduced into plant cells.
Studies have also shown that A. tumefaciens can contaminate various plants and fungi, as well as human cells in laboratory conditions. Some conifers remain contaminated throughout the year. And the use of antibiotics is ineffective and ultimately leads only to the multiplication of A. tumefaciens.
Gene uptake in the intestine
Studies in mice have shown that foreign DNA in food can pass from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. Of course, most of the foreign DNA is fragmented before entering the blood or tissue. However, several sufficiently large chains can also be transported and entered into cells.
Integrated DNA causes mutations or reprograms cells to produce foreign proteins, like viruses. However, such a scenario is still unlikely. Although scientists have been able to detect transgenic DNA in the tissues of an organism that consumed GMOs, they have not yet been able to prove this mechanism.
Gene transfer by viruses
Viruses are effective means of transferring genes from one organism to another. Scientists often use this for research purposes. For example, the so-called “viral vectors” are used to create GM crops. However, over a long period of time, genetic material can enter and spread in the environment.
Given the extremely wide distribution of GM crops and their long-term use, horizontal gene transfer can become quite common and contaminate the genomes of plants, animals and humans.
The higher the proportion of GMOs in the environment, the higher the chances of changing our genome.
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