New research? Vitamins and protein? Holy shit but I hope (but doubt) that the article is more sensible than the tagline. It's been known for a long long time that we absorb more than vitamins and protein from food. We've been consuming genetically modified foods for a good long time too. Anyways, let's make laws based on ignorance and fear and let millions continue to starve. We have ours and probably will for a while.
Hey, not to worry, half of the food you think is Organic food, is actually from China and has lead and other fun things in it.

MMM, crunchy!

(read the very fine print next to the UDSA logo)
@1: Ah, the old "support our business model without question or this starving third-world orphan gets it!" argument. I believe Monsanto® owns the patent on that.

"Trust us. We're Scientists." ™
-Monsanto ®
Yeah see its kinda tricky to define... We have modified vegetables for years only we did it through cross-breeding which is basicly the same thing. So when you eat a grapefruit its not a natural plant at all (its a mix of a Pomeloh and an Orange) for example. Eating rice affects you by the RNA that survives digestion and allot of other food stuffs do that too, without being GM.

GM food can help us in so many ways. Starvation due to draughts can be alleviated and until we manage to figure out a cure for overpopulation we will, no matter what the dangers, need it. Theres no getting away from it.

Its either that or figure out a way to decrease the constant rise of the human population on our planet, until we figure out a good way to do that we will have to be able to grow food on fucking rocks or something... its a problem of choosing to eat chunky or loose shit and pretend its filét mignon - misplaced commas or not.
If It's Wrong, It's Made By Monsanto (1)

(1) = or we stole the patent from the natives of a third world country for it.
@4 the problem is food distribution and fraud, not food production.
So the argument against genetically-modified food is the presence of potentially harmful RNA in NON-genetically-modified food? Huh?

Stray genetic material from all over is in our food, and always has been.

There are excellent arguments against GM crops besides the almost certainly imaginary health dangers. GM is an intellectual property disaster, not a health one.
New research shows we absorb DNA in our food? That's shocking! I thought that the DNA load present in the nucleus of every single cell of my lettuce was magically evaporated by the Eco-Pixies!


The article itself is not much better. The upshot is that microRNA with origin in rice have been found in mammalian bloodstreams and can be shown to influence cells. It's actually pretty interesting, but it hardly constitutes some red alert for GM foods. Somehow people have this bizarre notion that GM food are the only ones endowed with DNA and therefore somehow more risky. There is no reason to suppose microRNA is more likely to show up from GM foods than any other food, so their existence is no more a warning about GM food than organic kale.

The most frustrating thing is that there are actually legitimate concerns and a few outright problems with some GM foods, but they get drowned out by the hysterical, overblown, unscientific rhetoric surrounding the subject.
Argh, I forgot to add that by "article" I mean the linked article, which is not very good, not the original Nature study, which seems perfectly fine.

If Monsanto has its way, it will *cause* more starvation than it solves.
The article also implies that we've been exposed to (at least) microRNAs from our foods since forever. You'd kind of think that if anything nasty was going to happen it would have done so by now, either from the ancestral "wild" plants and animals we started off eating, or any of the genetically modified organisms (made by our good old fashioned natural selection) that we've ben enjoying these last few thousand years (cows, corn, you name it).
The soundtrack to Bethany's extra freaky-outty:…
@8 Just finished reading it myself. I agree with you, though it raises the fascinating possibility of being able to manipulate the regulation of physiological processes by including specific miRNA's. Hell, at some point we'll have RNA-DNA interaction well enough understood to try to have designer effects on your body.

Imagine eating an apple that is designed to increase testosterone levels or some such thing. Maybe possible maybe not, eukaryotic regulations is not my speciality. That said, adding a halibut gene to a tomato and similar DNA gene modifications are not going to cause an miRNA problem. It is of totally different DNA origin.

I am surprised, Lynx, that miRNAs survive the gastrointestinal system. It must be rife with RNAse. I wonder how miRNA degradation works. As a regulatory element, it can't be that long lived right?
@7-THANK YOU! I hate the ignorance of some anti-GMO activists and this article seemed rather alarmist with no real basis. Chances are if you are getting miRNA from a GM product, it's either 1) not a GM part of the organism or 2) part of another edible organism.

It's what some are modifying organisms to do that can be alarming. Not all of it is awful.
@8 They don't state that they ever found foreign DNA in the host did they??? That, I think would be quite something. Little bitty RNAs aren't terribly shocking, but DNA! That would astonish me. Especially after 6 hours.

Depends on how well it replicates, but RNA segments are much much more likely than full DNA.
Everything people invent has a down side. Why should food be any different?
@13, it is surprising, isn't it? I think I might forward the article to a friend who works with RNA, and has to keep some pretty draconian conditions around his bench to prevent degradation during extraction. The digestive system could hardly be more aggressive. However the Nature article makes clear that what's coming in from the food is the miRNA, not the template DNA that could later be transcribed. This is actually good if what you're worried about are some long term damage or effect, since miRNA will eventually be degraded. Even if it is more stable than normal RNA, it won't last long.
@15, no, the Nature article makes clear it's the miRNA that's being found, which frankly surprises me more, considering that DNA is supposed to be hardier than RNA.

I was referring to the byline on the Atlantic article, which expresses surprise that we consume more than "proteins and vitamins" when we eat. I shouldn't have gone off quite like that, because they do say "microRNA" and not DNA, so that was a mistake of mine. Of course they call microRNA information and make a number of other boneheaded statements, so I'll keep my guilt to a minimum ;-)
@19 well, there is a school of thought that all the "noise" areas of the genome are actually a combination of shuffle patterns that respond to "folding" accidents with miRNA, siRNA, mRNA, and sRNA, and actually contain boot/backup information for the alternate biochemical pathways, and the virii that have impacted our genome over the millenia.

Which can be considered "information".

Depends on how you look at it.
@12: So glad that link turned out to be exactly what I was hoping.

The most interesting argument I've heard against GM food came from my sister. She's allergic to soy milk, but not soy. Turns out, the soybeans used to make the soy milk were modified with genes from Brazil nuts, which she is allergic to.
@15 You have nothing to apologize for! I misread your post so the shame is mine. Though I will also blame the eco-pixies.

miRNAs are short, they average about 22bp. Maybe RNAse doesn't act on them with equal efficiency. Or perhaps as high acid concentrations is one thing that can denature RNAse, the stomach is an environment that would permit survival of RNA for a time. It's an interesting question.
The irony is that with the fat and calories I watch people shove down their throat daily this is on anyone's radar screen.
@21 very interesting.

remember, if in fact up to half of our food sold in the US contains GMOs or comes from China (where half the food is adulterated and it most likely contains GMOs), then it's kind of hard to avoid in US food, as opposed to EU food.
Well Monsanto, nobody cares if YOU don't see the value i.e. can't make money off of testing that food, but you could at least slap a label on the packaging so that I don't have to find out for you.
@7: Word.
Time for a bio major to chime in. MicroRNAs (miRNA) are chopped-up bits of what used to be similar to messenger RNA (mRNA); that is, transcripts of protein-coding genes. A variety of enzymes slice up and process the transcript, releasing miRNAs of 20-odd nucleotides which then bind to complementary sequences on mRNAs, suppressing transcription of the proteins that those mRNAs code for. Since complementary sequences are usually found on genes similar to the one from which the mRNA was made, mRNAs tend to silence copies of the gene from which they stem. This has the effect of regulating gene dosage; if a gene has too many copies in a cell, its expression will be lowered. This seems to protect against certain kinds of virus.
Since miRNAs are fairly specific, this is pretty much a non-issue. They won't regulate the expression of just any gene, you know.
Right, but they could cause expression of other products which utilize alternative biochemical pathways.

Basically, the primary pathway is least harmful, the secondary (or backup) pathway is slightly harmful (e.g. emergency, or used to deal with certain environmental conditions), the tertiary pathway is an evolutionary conservation pathway (e.g. from when we were dinosaurs or fish or whatever) and can be harmful.

If the miRNA shifted this on (the third pathway) it wouldn't be pleasant, sometimes.

I'd be far more concerned about contaminated food (e.g. from China) than about this risk factor, however.

Hey, did you guys catch the article on salmon gene computer devices?
@26: Did you switch majors? I thought you were doing physics or some such. And when do you graduate? I've lost track.
@27: Co ja kurwa czytam?
@28: I'm a double major in the biological and geophysical sciences. I graduate in spring of 2013, God willing.
@29: You could do some major damage with that combination. I'll try to remember next year so we can fête you on Slog.
What @7 said. I'm not going to swear on a stack of Bibles that there are no legitimate health concerns about GM crops, but there really aren't nearly as many as the alarmists seem to think. The real disaster in the offing isn't the fact that our food contains (gasp! shock! horror!) DNA, which of course it did all along -- it's the fact that more and more cultivars are "protected" by intellectual property laws, and engineered so that they don't produce any viable seeds, forcing farmers to buy new seeds every year.

That being said, I'm convinced that GM is, in the balance, a very good thing. GM offers a partial solution to our current intensive reliance on irrigation, pesticides, and fertilizers. More importantly, the world population is seven billion and climbing rapidly. Organic farming couldn't feed much more than half of that, even if we farmed every last square inch of arable land on the planet.
that atlantic article is way over the top - this is a good check on those claims:…

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