Posts Tagged ‘DuPont’

October Is Non-GMO Month!

SPECIAL ALERT

October Is Non-GMO Month!

2011
– The year Monsanto added sweetcorn, sugar beets and alfalfa to the list of GMO crops that already included field corn, cotton, canola, soy, and papaya – without regulations to protect organic farmers from contamination and no labels to respect consumers’ right to know.
– The year Monsanto couldn’t hide its failure any longer, as its GMO crops toppled over and were strangled in the fields, attacked by the very insects and weeds they were genetically engineered to resist.

October 2011
– When the non-GMO movement in the US got reenergized, reorganized and started a new strategy to win!

October 2011 is Non-GMO Month, and we can make it the biggest month of action this issue has ever seen in this country. What can you do to make that happen?

Would you collect a thousand signatures? Would you walk from New York City to the White House? Would you join a Millions Against Monsanto Rally for the Right to Know on World Food Day?

What would you do to win our right to know about genetically engineered food?

Get involved:

California – Ongoing – LabelGMOs.org
Northern CA

Southern CA

NYC to DC – Oct 1-16 – The Right2Know March

Austin, TXOct 2Rally for Real Food

Nationwide – Oct 15 & 16 – Millions Against Monsanto World Food Day Events

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We incorporate genetic information from the food we eat – new study

We incorporate genetic information from the food we eat – new study

Wednesday, 21 September 2011 14:12

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Below (item 2) is the abstract of an interesting new study which has implications for any animal or human that eats a GM food. In fact, it brings new light to the old truism, “You are what you eat”.

The study shows that we incorporate genetic information from the food we eat and that ingested nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA, can have physiological influences.

The study is yet another nail in the coffin of the already discredited ‘safety assessment’ process for GM foods in the EU and elsewhere. These assessments do not consider the effects described.

Item 1 is a compilation of comments on the paper from scientists.


1. Comments on new study (below) from scientists

This is a very interesting discovery. In the light of this, a GM crop incorporating miRNA knock-down technology should be evaluated for gene expression-disturbing effects in the animals/humans who eat it. On a more general note, this makes another strong link between what we eat and our gene expression profile that could either lead to health or disease.

Micro RNA (miRNA) and short interfering RNA (siRNA) molecules are part of the naturally occurring “RNA interference” (RNAi) system found in both plants and animals. miRNA and siRNA molecules bind to specific mRNA targets that results in them being destroyed with the final outcome in effect being that expression from a given gene is reduced or virtually eliminated (“knock-down”). Note: as a reminder, mRNA is the RNA copy of a gene with the information within which the cell uses to synthesise a required protein. So is you knock-down (reduce) levels of a given mRNA via binding of an miRNA or siRNA you reduce or eliminate the amount of protein product that is encoded in the gene/mRNA.

It is important to note that miRNA and siRNA are naturally occurring systems that cells use to control levels of gene expression. However, miRNA and siRNA molecules can be custom-designed for a mRNA target of choice and delivered via GM approaches to the desired cells or organism.

The totally surprising finding of the study in question is that miRNA molecules are not destroyed during digestion, and, even more unexpectedly, can enter intact into the body of the animal that has eaten it, find an mRNA target (in this case in the liver) and interfere with (destroy/knock-down) its function.

So what this new study is implying from a GM perspective is that if a GM crop has been produced by the incorporation of a gene that will express a miRNA molecule to knock-down expression of a host or pest gene (see Auer C, Frederick R. Crop improvement using small RNAs: applications and predictive ecological risk assessments. Trends in Biotechnology. Nov 2009; 27(11): 644-651), then the potential negative effect of ingesting this crop by an animal or human also should now also be considered. miRNA and siRNA molecules in the crop can inadvertently switch off (knock-down) expression of a gene system in the animal or human who has eaten it, resulting in ill health.

miRNA or siRNA molecules are prone to “off-target” effects; that is, they can bind to and knock-down mRNA that they were not designed to target! So the picture of outcomes can get very complex. It will be interesting to see if this study can be replicated by looking at other miRNA molecules in plant foods and their effect on animals who eat them.

Even more interesting would be to see if a GM crop engineered with a novel miRNA results in this molecule being taken up with measurable effects by the animal in a feeding trial.


2. Zhang L, Hou D, Chen X, et al. Exogenous plant MIR168a specifically targets mammalian LDLRAP1: evidence of cross-kingdom regulation by microRNA. Cell Res. Sep 20 2011.
http://www.nature.com/cr/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/cr2011158a.html

Our previous studies have demonstrated that stable microRNAs (miRNAs) in mammalian serum and plasma are actively secreted from tissues and cells and can serve as a novel class of biomarkers for diseases, and act as signaling molecules in intercellular communication. Here, we report the surprising finding that exogenous plant miRNAs are present in the sera and tissues of various animals and that these exogenous plant miRNAs are primarily acquired orally, through food intake. MIR168a is abundant in rice and is one of the most highly enriched exogenous plant miRNAs in the sera of Chinese subjects. Functional studies in vitro and in vivo demonstrated that MIR168a could bind to the human/mouse low-density lipoprotein receptor adapter protein 1 (LDLRAP1) mRNA, inhibit LDLRAP1 expression in liver, and consequently decrease LDL removal from mouse plasma. These findings demonstrate that exogenous plant miRNAs in food can regulate the expression of target genes in mammals.

Plant RNAs Found in Mammals

Plant RNAs Found in Mammals

Wednesday, 21 September 2011 15:40

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Plant RNAs Found in Mammals
Cristina Luiggi
The Scientist, September 20, 2011
http://the-scientist.com/2011/09/20/plant-rnas-found-in-mammals/

*MicroRNAs from plants accumulate in mammalian blood and tissues, where they can regulate gene expression.

MicroRNAs from common plant crops such as rice and cabbage can be found in the blood and tissues of humans and other plant-eating mammals, according to a study published today in Cell Research. One microRNA in particular, MIR168a, which is highly enriched in rice, was found to inhibit a protein that helps removes low-density lipoprotein (LDL) from the blood, suggesting that microRNAs can influence gene expression across kingdoms.

“This is a very exciting piece of work that suggests that the food we eat may directly regulate gene expression in our bodies,” said Clay Marsh, Director of the Center for Personalized Health Care at the Ohio State University College of Medicine who researches microRNA expression in human blood but who was not involved in the study.

MicroRNAs are, as the name implies, very short RNA sequences (approximately 22 nucleotides in length) discovered in the early 1990s. They are known to modulate gene expression by binding to mRNA, often resulting in inhibition. With the recent discovery that microRNAs circulate the blood by hitching a ride in small membrane-encased particles known as microvesicles (see our July 2011 feature on microvesicles, “Exosome Explosion”), there has been a surge of interest in microRNAs as a novel class of biomarkers for a variety of diseases.

Chen-Yu Zhang, a molecular biologist at Nanjing University in China, was studying the role of circulating microRNAs in health and disease when he discovered that microRNAs are present in other bodily fluids such as milk. This gave him the “crazy idea” that exogenous microRNAs, such as those ingested through the consumption of milk, could also be found circulating in the serum of mammals, he recalled.

To test his hypothesis, Zhang and his team of researchers sequenced the blood microRNAs of 31 healthy Chinese subjects and searched for the presence of plant microRNAs. Because plant microRNAs are structurally different from those of mammals, they react differently to oxidizing agents, and the researchers were able to differentiate the two by treating them with sodium periodate, which oxidizes mammal but not plant microRNAs.

To their surprise, they found about 40 types of plant microRNAs circulating in the subjects’ blood—some of which were found in concentrations that were comparable to major endogenous human microRNAs.

The plant microRNAs with the highest concentrations were MIR156a and MIR168a, both of which are known to be enriched in rice and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli. Furthermore, the researchers detected the two microRNAs in the blood, lungs, small intestine, and livers of mice, in variable concentrations that significantly increased after the mice were fed raw rice (although cooked rice was also shown to contain intact MIR168a).

Next, the researchers scoured sequence databases for putative target genes of MIR156a and MIR168a and found that MIR168a shared sequence complementarity with approximately 50 mammalian genes. The most highly conserved of these sequences across the animal kingdom was the exon 4 of the low-density lipoprotein receptor adapter protein 1 gene (LDLRAP1).

LDLRAP1 is highly expressed in the liver, where it interacts with the low-density lipoprotein receptor to help remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL), aka “bad” cholesterol, from the blood.

The researchers hypothesized that MIR168a could be taken up by the epithelial cells lining the gastrointestinal tract, packaged into microvesicles, and secreted into the blood stream, where they can make their way to target organs. Once in the liver, MIR168a binds to LDLRAP1 mRNA, reducing the protein levels and ultimately impairing the removal of LDL from the blood.

To test this hypothesis in vitro, the researchers transfected synthetic MIR168a into a human epithelial cell line and collected the secreted microvesicles. When they added these microvesicles to a liver cell line called HepG2, they found that while it did not change the levels of LDLRAP1 mRNA, it did decrease the levels of the actual LDLRAP1 protein.

Likewise, the LDLRAP1 protein level decreased in the livers of live mice 3 to 7 days after eating fresh rice or being injected with synthetic MIR168a—significantly increasing LDL in the blood. When the researchers injected the mice with an RNA sequence that bound to and neutralized MIR168a, the protein and LDL levels returned to normal.

“This microRNA inhibits this protein and increased the plasma LDL levels,” Zhang said. With higher levels of circulating cholesterol, “it can possibly increase the risk of metabolic syndrome,” he added. But more importantly, this research points to a “new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of diseases,” based on the enhancement or inhibition of exogenous microRNAs.

Although the team has still a long way to go in elucidating the mechanisms by which plant microRNAs can regulate gene expression in humans, these initial results promise to increase the understanding of how specific ingredients in food can mediate health and disease, Marsh said.

Indeed, Zhang suspects that this is just one example of many. With time, “I’m confident other people will find more exogenous plant microRNAs that can pass through the GI tract and also have effects on the host physiology,” Zhang said.

L. Zhang, et. al., “Exogenous plant MIR168a specifically targets mammalian LDLRAP1: evidence of cross-kingdom regulation by microRNA,” Cell Research, doi:10.1038/cr.2011.158, 2011.

 

The Organic Industry Structure

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GMO Alfalfa Plan B – “Spilling the Beans”by Jeffrey Smith

Dear Friends,

We’re angry! MILLIONS of us are angry and outraged at the approval of GM alfalfa. And on top of that, the USDA also did an end-run around the courts to keep GM sugar beets growing, AND approved a GM corn used for ethanol.

So what do we do? Surrender? Never!

Before I propose a way forward, I want to share a victory you may have missed in the first paragraph. I said MILLIONS. That’s right, there are millions of us. And you can hear our frustration flying around in blogs, emails, press reports, petitions, etc. Do you remember the reaction just four years ago when GM sugar beets were approved for sale? There was nothing close to this response. It was hardly a blip. Where we have come in just a few years is a cause for celebration. And an unprecedented opportunity to throw our new weight around.

Within the first six months of last year, we witnessed more people in the US than ever before enthusiastically getting the word out about the dangers of GMOs.
This was in part due to the huge internet distribution channels that have been getting articles and videos out to MILLIONS every month. (Thank you all!) And then there was the high profile media coverage of GE salmon and the sugar beet and alfalfa court cases.

In spite of their bitter outcomes at the hands of the USDA, the prolonged alfalfa and sugar beet fights actually helped elevate GMOs on our personal and national radar screens.

And now with MILLIONS of us grasping the significance and devastating loss of yet another crop, we have the components in place for a national revolution. We have the knowledge, the emotion, the network, and the profound injustice. Now we need an action plan. Enter Alfalfa: Plan B.

It’s time to use our collective power to move the market directly. It’s time we let the food companies know that we have new healthier criteria if they want to keep us as customers. And front and center in those new criteria is to commit to no GM alfalfa in their supply chain (which is used as animal feed, particularly to dairy cows).

This is our moment! Send a letter to dozens of dairies and food companies simultaneously. Let them know how strong we feel and how MILLIONS strong we are. When they get the message about the coming non-GMO tipping point, they’ll realize it’s time to remove all GM ingredients, not just alfalfa.

Share this “click and send revolution” with your friends, shop using the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, and tell the food companies the truth about GMOs. And for those who want to do even more, you are invited to join a local or national Non-GMO Action Group, to expand our numbers even further!

Send a letter now!

Safe Eating,

Jeffrey Smith

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