An international group of toxicologists, which includes scientists from Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU), continues to study the potential risks of genetically modified (GM) products. Scientists have published a review of research papers on the fate of the DNA derived from GM food and feed entering the human body and animals. The article published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology.
According to the review data, the DNA of GM products can survive harsh processing and digestive conditions. Some of them can get into the human body, combining with the DNA of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Scientists have discovered the presence of such DNA in the blood stream and tissues of humans and animals.
“We are talking just about the limited pieces of evidence of this process, including because this area studied insufficiently. Although we have not found evidence of any effect of DNA of GM products on the human genome, we can safely say that micro-ribonucleic acid (one of the main molecules in cells of living organisms, in addition to DNA and proteins) of the plant food treated with insecticides and antiviral sprays, enters the body of its consumers and can affect genetic processes. This question would be worth exploring further,” commented on the results of the review one of its authors, Dr. Muhammad Amjad Nawaz, a visiting scientist at the “Nanotechnology” Research and Education Center (REC) operating at FEFU.
The scientist continues to study the effects of GM products on human and animal health, working in a group of colleagues from FEFU and other Russian and foreign universities, led by a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, chief researcher of the “Nanotechnology” REC Aristides M. Tsatsakis.
In the review, scientists examine the ways and mechanisms by which foreign DNA can survive during digestion and penetrate into the cells of the body of their consumer. In particular, researchers are interested in the region of the gastrointestinal tract as the hot spot for horizontal gene transfer of GM crop DNA into gut-bacteria. Such a transfer can potentially lead to dysbacteriosis and ill-health, as well as subsequent mutations. Scientists pay attention to the contradictions that arise around the topic of the presence of DNA of consumed products in the blood and organs of their consumers and declare the failure to prove their effect on the human body. They are also discussing the possibility of integrating genomes and the expression of foreign DNA in the tissues of the consumer. In conclusion, researchers consider the potential for penetration of micro-RNA of GM plant food into the human body cells.
In 2017, the same group of researchers had published two reviews of the scientific papers on the GM crop cultivation impact on the environment, ecosystem, diversity and the health of animals and humans.
As of 2016, the global production of genetically modified cereals for food and feed is set at 185.1 million hectares and makes a profit of about 150 billion US dollars. With such production volumes, research on the potential effects of genetically modified products on human health remains relevant in the future.