The primary reason companies genetically engineer plants is to make them tolerant to their brand of herbicide. The four major GM plants, soy, corn, canola, and cotton, are designed to survive an otherwise deadly dose of weed killer. About 68% of GM crops are herbicide tolerant.
The second GM trait is a built-in pesticide. A gene from the soil bacterium called Bt (for Bacillus thuringiensis) is inserted into corn and cotton DNA, where it secretes the insect-killing Bt-toxin in every cell. About 19% of GM crops produce their own pesticide. Another 13% produce a pesticide and are herbicide tolerant.
There is also Hawaiian papaya and a small amount of zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, which are engineered to resist a plant virus. GM sugar beets will also be harvested into sugar before the end of 2008.
GM soy and allergic reactions
Allergy specialist John Boyles, MD told me, “I used to test for soy allergies all the time, but now that soy is genetically engineered, it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it—unless it says organic.” There are lots of reasons suggesting that GM soy may lead to allergies.
- Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced.
- A human subject showed a skin prick allergic-type reaction to GM soy, but not to natural soy.
- The level of one known soy allergen is as much as 7-times higher in cooked GM soy compared to non-GM soy.
- GM soy also contains an unexpected allergen-type protein not found in natural soy.
- GM soy fails the allergy screening test recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
- GM soy has much higher residues of the toxic weed killer called Roundup.
Bt corn and cotton linked to allergies
The biotech industry claims that the Bt-toxin pesticide produced in GM corn and cotton is harmless to humans and mammals because the natural bacteria version has been used as a spray by farmers for years. This is another myth. In reality, hundreds of people exposed to Bt spray had allergic-type symptoms. Mice fed Bt had powerful immune responses and damaged intestines. Besides, Bt in GM crops is designed to be more toxic than the natural spray, is thousands of times more concentrated, and also fails the WHO allergy screening.
Hundreds of laborers in India report allergic reactions from handling Bt cotton. Their symptoms are identical to those exposed to Bt spray.
GMOs may cause immune reactions to non-GM foods
Eating GM foods may make us or our children sensitive to other foods.
- If proteins “digest” slowly, there is more time for allergic reactions. Because GM soy reduces digestive enzymes in mice, it may slow protein digestion and promote allergies to many foods.
- Mice not only reacted to Bt -toxin, they had immune responses to formerly harmless compounds.
- Similarly, a mouse test indicated that people eating GM peas could develop allergies both to the peas and to a range of other foods.
Children are 3-4 times more likely to develop allergies than adults, and are therefore at greater risk.