GMOs (genetically modified organisms) have genes from another species transplanted into their DNA. This is done to increase production or yield or add some other previously nonexistent quality to the organism.
These experimental organisms have so far been mostly plants, but animals are now starting to be modified.
This is not the same as hybridizing. Hybrids are created through breeding. Genetic modification is actual transferral of DNA material from one species into another to achieve some desired characteristic.
To be able to insert the foreign DNA into the recipient plant or animal DNA, a bacteria or virus must be used as a carrier.
As bizarre as the genetic transfer may seem, perhaps the bigger problem is the use of these viral and bacterial carriers. We’ll come back to that in a moment.
One of the most common target characteristics of GMOs is called “Roundup Ready.” This means that the herbicide chemical glyphosate (known as Roundup) can be sprayed on the crop without killing it. Weeds may be developing tolerance to this chemical because more and more of it is being used every year. Much of this glyphosate is absorbed into the plant and ends up in our food.
Glyphosate acts like a highly targeted antibiotic in the guts of animals and people. Unfortunately, it targets our beneficial bacteria, the microbes that help with digestion, detoxification, hormonal balance, immune system and more. This throws off the delicate balance of friendly and unfriendly bacteria, which becomes a big problem.
Another characteristic that has been added to genetically modified corn is Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a pesticide that occurs naturally as a soil microbe. It has been sprayed on crops for decades by organic farmers to deter insect damage.
Now the middleman has been eliminated by inserting the pesticide directly into the plant. It wasn’t supposed to affect animals, only insects. It kills pests by creating holes in the cell walls in their digestive tracts.
That’s also what it does to cows that are fed genetically modified corn, and to humans, too. It doesn’t seem surprizing that something that destroys cells would damage us. Destroying the integrity of the cells naturally leads to leaky gut and to all the problems it entails.
Believe it or not, it gets worse. When we eat plants, we chew and digest the plant material. Under normal circumstances, the DNA from that plant doesn’t impose itself on us like some sort of invader. Instead, we extract the nutrients from the plant to use in our own body processes.
Bacillus thuringiensis is a bacteria that has been forcefully inserted into plants. Somehow this bacterial DNA is separating itself from the plant material being digested. It appears that Bt can survive and replicate itself in our own gut microbiome, thereby turning us into pesticide factories. Basically the Bt can continually injure the gut lining because instead of flushing out of the system within a few hours, it stays and multipies.
Similar to this scenario, those bacterial and viral genetic carriers mentioned above have been discovered in the digestive tracts of bees. It’s normal for bacterium to exchange genetic material with one another. It’s part of the way they communicate.
But these microbes appear to be cross breeding with the bees’ natural bacteria and creating new varieties.
The gut biomes of bees and humans are closely related. It’s being theorized that maybe the same thing is happening in human digestive tracts as well. And that it could be a part of the cause of the massive increase in food allergies in recent years.
Realistically, we don’t know the extent of damage that has already been done, or what is still to be discovered. There are no long term studies o the effects. It does not seem like a healthy thing, though. Sometimes the wise move is to assume the worst, err on the side of caution and do your best to avoid GMOs until we know more.