British Researchers Find GM DNA in Human GutBritish Researchers Find GM DNA in Human Gut
August 26, 2002
British Researchers Find GM DNA in Human Gut
LONDON--The July 17 issue of England's The Guardianreported British scientists found genetically modified (GM) antibiotic markergenes may be able to exist within human gut bacteria, an occurrence that waspreviously thought to be impossible--it was originally believed the digestiveprocess would destroy the marker genes. "This is a very significantdevelopment because it provides evidence indicating that what the biotechindustry has been saying about this issue is wrong," said Craig Winters,executive director of the Campaign to Label Genetically Modified Foods."They have stated repeatedly that antibiotic marker gene DNA cannottransfer to human gut bacteria."
The unpublished research, conducted at Newcastle University and commissionedby the British Food Safety Standards Agency (www.foodstandards.gov.uk),suggested there may be a low rate of transfer of antibiotic marker genes intohuman intestinal flora. Researchers involved seven volunteers who used colostomybags and 12 volunteers with normal stomachs who ate a meal containing GM soy.After the meal, the researchers found "to their surprise, a relativelylarge proportion of genetically modified DNA survived the passage through thesmall bowel," according to The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk).However, none was found in people who had complete stomachs. Researchers alsocultivated seven stool samples from the patients with colostomy bags--three ofthe samples contained low levels of the GM DNA.
Friends of the Earth issued a press release immediately after the Britishresults were announced. "This research should set alarm bellsringing," said Adrian Bebb, GM food campaigner for Friends of the EarthU.K. "Industry scientists and government advisors have always played downthe risk of this ever happening, but the first time they looked for it, theyfound it."
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