Tag Archives: DNA

What Is Your DNA Doing For You Right Now?

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Ever since its structure was unraveled in the early Fifties, DNA has been considered the mastermind of the cell. Sitting in splendid isolation in the cell’s nucleus, DNA encodes all of life. It sends duplicates of itself (RNA) to direct the manufacture of proteins; and proteins, as high-school biology teaches, are the building blocks of the cell. In terms of biological machinery. The genetic picture has gotten more and more sophisticated ever since.

But something doesn’t look quite right here. If every cell is a biological robot, and the entire body is made up of cells, then we must be biological robots too. This view, which a surprising number of geneticists believe in, cannot be true. It is a conclusion that the old model of DNA supported because that model was reductionist–that is, all complex processes can be explained by breaking them down into more basic processes. The whole approach is totally logical, but nobody can seriously claim that the works of Shakespeare and Mozart are explainable by protein manufacture. And in our daily lives we think thoughts and feel emotions, which proteins don’t, or cells for that matter.

As a result, genetics has been racing to catch up with human reality. On several fronts there has been progress, of a sort. So-called Systems Biology has emerged to examine how the body works as a dynamic, changing organism responding to input from the environment. In this way DNA stopped being so rigid and got into the game. On another front a field known as epigenetics began to study how everyday experience, including our lifestyle and memory, actually gets chemically imprinted on our genes. Again, DNA became more dynamic and responsive.

But while DNA was getting liberated, what was really happening? One could argue that the only thing changing was a scientific model. Reality wasn’t changing at all. Now it is dawning that DNA is fundamentally so mysterious, biology can’t even contain it, much less explain it. The crack in mainstream genetics came from the huge shock administered by the Human Genome Project, which discovered, to widespread dismay, that the complexity of human life came down to only 20,000 genes. This number was ridiculously small, about 20% of the previous guesstimate. To quote geneticist John Mattick, “that number is tiny. It’s effectively the same as a microscopic worm that has just 1,000 cells.” Continue reading

Mindful Evolution: Can You Guide What Your Genes Are Doing?

humandna

By Deepak Chopra, MD and Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD

Human beings are unique in the scenario of life on Earth–that much is obvious. We are guided by awareness, and to implement our wishes, dreams, and inventions, the higher brain (chiefly the cerebral cortex) has evolved to extraordinary proportions. Although classical Darwinism is mindless, and staunchly defended as such by strict materialists, Homo sapiens is no longer caught in the clutches of natural selection. As we saw in the first post of this series, human society is very different from the state of nature. Chimpanzees don’t get their food at the grocery store, and we don’t get ours by fighting with rivals in the treetops.

So the real dilemma isn’t whether human evolution is guided by mind, because clearly it is. What remains puzzling is how much connection there is between our mind and our genes. There is no doubt that the roughly 23,000 genes you inherited from your parents remain the same throughout your lifetime. If the genetic blueprint was as fixed as an architect’s plans, there would be no mind-gene connection. You would be the puppet of DNA, mechanically carrying out whatever actions are programmed into the 3 billion base pairs that constitute the human genome.

To defenders of strict Darwinism, the difference between instinct, which controls animal behavior, and mind, which gives freedom of choice, is lost. But no one who isn’t harping on an agenda could claim that a Mozart symphony or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was created by instinct. The range of the human mind is vast and creative. But as we create the complex human world, are our genes listening? If so, are they cooperating in our creative enterprises? Continue reading

Deepak Chopra: Can We Influence Our Own Evolution?

Is evolution a complex process that we have nothing to do with, or is there any way we can actually influence our own evolution? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak explores how can we influence human evolution as well as the evolution of the cosmos.

Our feelings, thoughts, perceptions, cognition, internal mental activity, and behavior changes in every moment. The neural architecture of our brain responds to both internal and external reactions which we create through our own choices. Thus, as we think, feel and emote – we affect the expression of our genes and expression of genes in others. Your genes are activated right now watching this video, and we are influencing each other, and thus, in a sense, influencing evolution.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and never stop activating your curiosity!

The 5 Most Adorable Animals Facing Extinciton

If you thought Jurassic Park was entirely science fiction, then guess again. “De-extinction” isn’t just the stuff of fantasy, but rather a burgeoning field in science that aims to revive extinct species. Early trials are being tested on the Passenger Pigeon, as well as the wooly mammoth, the prospect of which conjures an exciting, if bizarre, mental image.

Before we get your hopes up over mammoth-covered hillsides and (dare we dream) dinosaur-filled theme parks, the success of these early trials has been very modest. As of now, only one extinct species has “successfully” been brought back to life – in quotes because the baby animal only survived several minutes before perishing once again into oblivion. Had the baby lived, the world would have witnessed the rebirth of the Pyrenean ibex, a species of wild goat with long curved horns and a bulk of up to 220 pounds. Of 57 implantations using cloned cells from the last Pyrenean ibex, driven to extinction by hunters in 1999, seven lead to pregnancies, and only one was carried to term. Even just the hint of success has created a flurry in the scientific community.

It may be thrilling to imagine a revival of the orange-bellied Passenger Pigeon or the hills of Spain peppered with giant wild goats. But some scientists have questioned the ethics of such use of scientific technologies. Even if researchers have the ability to bring extinct species back to life, is it practical, necessary, or even appropriate for them to do so? Given humans’ track record, do we have any place in meddling further with evolution? Perhaps instead, as conservation scientist Stacy Small-Lorenz suggests, we should save precious conservation resources for protecting currently at-risk species. “De-extinction” or no, the reality remains that human actions can have permanent detrimental effects on the environment. Only preemptive efforts are going to make a difference on that front.

Here are five species facing extinction that we’d like to see live on (and keep playing) for decades to come:

1. Celebes Crested Macaque

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2. Siberian Tiger

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3. San Joaquin Kit Fox

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4. Sea Otter

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5. Dhole – Mountain Dog

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Would you like to help these animals live on and keep playing? There are plenty of opportunities for citizens to take action and  make a difference. Learn what you can do by visiting the Take Action page at Defenders of Wildlife.

Photo essay originally published in Time Magazine.

Invocation from Saint Germain: on the Love within

Breathe into your heart, put forth the intention:

“I call forth my divine self, the truth within me and I place my intent in this moment to bring forth the fullness of the love within me, the love that surrounds me, the love that animates me.



I call forth that love to express through every cell, every atom, every breath, every thought, every feeling and every deed, for I am an embodiment of pure love. And as I focus each day of my life on that alone, all that is required flows into my life.



So it is and so be it.”



If you let it, this exercise will clean out the conditions of love that have been trained into you so you may freely love from a place of divinity.

 

Invocation from Saint Germain: on the Love within

Breathe into your heart, put forth the intention:

“I call forth my divine self, the truth within me and I place my intent in this moment to bring forth the fullness of the love within me, the love that surrounds me, the love that animates me.



I call forth that love to express through every cell, every atom, every breath, every thought, every feeling and every deed, for I am an embodiment of pure love. And as I focus each day of my life on that alone, all that is required flows into my life.



So it is and so be it.”



If you let it, this exercise will clean out the conditions of love that have been trained into you so you may freely love from a place of divinity.

 

A Little Boost for Immortality

As we all grow older, the span of mortality left to us becomes smaller and smaller. This shrinkage naturally makes us think about immortality. The possibility of surviving death lies at the heart of almost every religion, yet it would be comforting if factual evidence existed, not simply the reassurance of spiritual guides. I was so deeply affected by my father’s death a few years ago that I wrote an entire book to consider if life after death can be proved. I emerged from that project with a good deal of comfort and reassurance. And all of it was rationally based.

I won’t repeat the many arguments in favor of the afterlife (the book is called Life After Death if you are deeply interested). Most people have heard about near-death experiences and on the other side the scoffers who reject such experiences. It’s hard to get believers and skeptics to agree even on basic points, so wide is the gap between the two camps. But gradually science has had to confront the possibility of immortality — not yet for the soul but for the basic fabric of the universe.

It’s a given in physics that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed. In recent years theorists have extended this notion to information. We began to hear about information fields that are as basic to the cosmos as energy fields. Why? Because as simple molecules grew into more complex ones, they kept moving into even greater complexity. You’d think that once it reached thousands of individual atoms, an organic chemical would break apart instead of building itself into an even more complex molecule. Yet life has evolved inexorably. Blue-green algae, a very primitive life form, is still with it, but it no longer rules the scene. Without wiping out the lower forms of life, evolution kept adding on.

Some kind of invisible glue is at work, and for the moment, information is favored as that glue. If the information invisibly holding a molecule together has its own integrity, then striving for a creation like human DNA, with its three billion individual codons, seems more plausible. It’s like having a vocabulary that you build on. The tendency is to add more words, not to randomly lose the early ones as you go. Just as you may have to remind yourself of old words, Nature reminds itself of earlier life forms, which is what happens in the womb as a human fetus develops from a single fertilized ovum, passing through stages that repeat the biology of fish, reptiles, lower mammals, and so forth on its journey to being fully human. Ultimately, nothing valuable is forgotten.

The bald fact is that DNA exists, whether or not a theory can explain it. Another bald fact is that every person is already a field of information containing trillions of data, each one related to an experience. As billions of pieces of raw data bombard our senses every day, the information field shifts, changes, and grows. No mechanical notion of randomness makes sense here. What we observe in ourselves is that information has a life of its own.

Some scientists believe that information can only be transformed; it cannot be created or destroyed. That sounds convincing for molecules, but the implications for human immortality are also striking. It’s too easy to palm off the afterlife as something incidental to human comfort, a way of not being frightened by death or a primitive reaction to the unknown. Atheists and skeptics, who are astonishingly glib as a group, constantly fall back on the primitiveness of sacred beliefs, disregarding that they are talking to people who are not primitive, afraid, or myth mongers. (Some believers, in fact, are quite a bit less primitive than the usual run of atheists and skeptics.)

Let’s say that we stop condescending to sacred belief and take it seriously. Then we find that reincarnation, for example, fits rather well with the idea of constantly transforming information. The soul fits rather well into the notion that information can organize itself into a coherent, contained structure, the way DNA organizes billions of chemical bits into a coherent, contained structure. I’m not saying that information is enough to explain the soul. We must account for consciousness, too. It’s very nice if my memories survive my demise the way a computer’s hard drive survives when the machine is turned off. But what we really want is that "I," the self, survives.

I think that wish, basic as it is, blocks our vision. This limited self that is encased in a physical body stands for much more — it stands for consciousness as a whole. No one contains all the possibilities of the mind, which are infinite. Yet the field of consciousness, like the field of information, does contain the whole. That’s how a field works. The electromagnetic field contains all the electromagnetic energy in the universe, even though a compass or an electric toaster manifests only the tiniest fraction of the field.

Immortality got a boost when science realized that fields are the source of everything that exists, and since a field isn’t solid, visible, perceived by the senses, or contained by a single brain, the whole solid, visible world was called into question. In short, the immortal came first in Nature, the mortal came second. All change must be explained against the background of non-change. Immortality is just a synonym for wholeness. I know that sounds very abstract, and we haven’t even touched on the details of relating advanced physics to consciousness.  

But at least we can keep an open mind about immortality without dividing into outworn camps of religionists versus scientists. By recognizing that the really big things like mind, consciousness, the origin of life, and the birth of the cosmos remain very open questions, we won’t fall into the simplistic close-mindedness that scoffs at immortality. The scoffers should be running for cover, because science is undermining them more and more every day.

 For more information go to deepakchopra.com

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Doctors Warn: Avoid Genetically Modified Food

 

Doctors Warn: Avoid Genetically Modified Food

By Jeffrey M. Smith

On May 19th, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called on "Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM (genetically modified) foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks."[1] They called for a moratorium on GM foods, long-term independent studies, and labeling. AAEM’s position paper stated, "Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food," including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. They conclude, "There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation," as defined by recognized scientific criteria. "The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies."
More and more doctors are already prescribing GM-free diets. Dr. Amy Dean, a Michigan internal medicine specialist, and board member of AAEM says, "I strongly recommend patients eat strictly non-genetically modified foods." Ohio allergist Dr. John Boyles says "I used to test for soy allergies all the time, but now that soy is genetically engineered, it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it."
Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, President of AAEM, says, "Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions." World renowned biologist Pushpa M. Bhargava goes one step further. After reviewing more than 600 scientific journals, he concludes that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a major contributor to the sharply deteriorating health of Americans.
Pregnant women and babies at great risk
Among the population, biologist David Schubert of the Salk Institute warns that "children are the most likely to be adversely effected by toxins and other dietary problems" related to GM foods. He says without adequate studies, the children become "the experimental animals."[2]
 
The experience of actual GM-fed experimental animals is scary. When GM soy was fed to female rats, most of their babies died within three weeks-compared to a 10% death rate among the control group fed natural soy.[3] The GM-fed babies were also smaller, and later had problems getting pregnant.[4]
 
When male rats were fed GM soy, their testicles actually changed color-from the normal pink to dark blue.[5] Mice fed GM soy had altered young sperm.[6] Even the embryos of GM fed parent mice had significant changes in their DNA.[7] Mice fed GM corn in an Austrian government study had fewer babies, which were also smaller than normal.[8]
 
Reproductive problems also plague livestock. Investigations in the state of Haryana , India revealed that most buffalo that ate GM cottonseed had complications such as premature deliveries, abortions, infertility, and prolapsed uteruses. Many calves died. In the US , about two dozen farmers reported thousands of pigs became sterile after consuming certain GM corn varieties. Some had false pregnancies; others gave birth to bags of water. Cows and bulls also became infertile when fed the same corn.[9]
In the US population, the incidence of low birth weight babies, infertility, and infant mortality are all escalating.
Food designed to produce toxin
GM corn and cotton are engineered to produce their own built-in pesticide in every cell. When bugs bite the plant, the poison splits open their stomach and kills them. Biotech companies claim that the pesticide, called Bt-produced from soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis-has a history of safe use, since organic farmers and others use Bt bacteria spray for natural insect control. Genetic engineers insert Bt genes into corn and cotton, so the plants do the killing.
The Bt-toxin produced in GM plants, however, is thousands of times more concentrated than natural Bt spray, is designed to be more toxic,[10] has properties of an allergen, and unlike the spray, cannot be washed off the plant.
Moreover, studies confirm that even the less toxic natural bacterial spray is harmful. When dispersed by plane to kill gypsy moths in the Pacific Northwest , about 500 people reported allergy or flu-like symptoms. Some had to go to the emergency room.[11],[12]
The exact same symptoms are now being reported by farm workers throughout India, from handling Bt cotton.[13] In 2008, based on medical records, the Sunday India reported, "Victims of itching have increased massively this year . . . related to BT cotton farming."[14]
GMOs provoke immune reactions
AAEM states, "Multiple animal studies show significant immune dysregulation," including increase in cytokines, which are "associated with asthma, allergy, and inflammation"-all on the rise in the US .
According to GM food safety expert Dr. Arpad Pusztai, changes in the immune status of GM animals are "a consistent feature of all the studies."[15] Even Monsanto’s own research showed significant immune system changes in rats fed Bt corn.[16] A November 2008 by the Italian government also found that mice have an immune reaction to Bt corn.[17]
GM soy and corn each contain two new proteins with allergenic properties,[18] GM soy has up to seven times more trypsin inhibitor-a known soy allergen,[19] and skin prick tests show some people react to GM, but not to non-GM soy.[20] Soon after GM soy was introduced to the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50%. Perhaps the US epidemic of food allergies and asthma is a casualty of genetic manipulation.
Animals dying in large numbers
In India , animals graze on cotton plants after harvest. But when shepherds let sheep graze on Bt cotton plants, thousands died. Post mortems showed severe irritation and black patches in both intestines and liver (as well as enlarged bile ducts). Investigators said preliminary evidence "strongly suggests that the sheep mortality was due to a toxin. . . . most probably Bt-toxin."[21] In a small follow-up feeding study by the Deccan Development Society, all sheep fed Bt cotton plants died within 30 days; those that grazed on natural cotton plants remained healthy.
In a small village in Andhra Pradesh, buffalo grazed on cotton plants for eight years without incident. On January 3rd, 2008, the buffalo grazed on Bt cotton plants for the first time. All 13 were sick the next day; all died within 3 days.[22]
Bt corn was also implicated in the deaths of cows in Germany , and horses, water buffaloes, and chickens in The Philippines.[23]
In lab studies, twice the number of chickens fed Liberty Link corn died; 7 of 20 rats fed a GM tomato developed bleeding stomachs; another 7 of 40 died within two weeks.[24] Monsanto’s own study showed evidence of poisoning in major organs of rats fed Bt corn, according to top French toxicologist G. E. Seralini.[25]
Worst finding of all-GMOs remain inside of us
The only published human feeding study revealed what may be the most dangerous problem from GM foods. The gene inserted into GM soy transfers into the DNA of bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function.[26] This means that long after we stop eating GMOs, we may still have potentially harmful GM proteins produced continuously inside of us. Put more plainly, eating a corn chip produced from Bt corn might transform our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories, possibly for the rest of our lives.
When evidence of gene transfer is reported at medical conferences around the US , doctors often respond by citing the huge increase of gastrointestinal problems among their patients over the last decade. GM foods might be colonizing the gut flora of North Americans.
Warnings by government scientists ignored and denied
Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had warned about all these problems even in the early 1990s. According to documents released from a lawsuit, the scientific consensus at the agency was that GM foods were inherently dangerous, and might create hard-to-detect allergies, poisons, gene transfer to gut bacteria, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged their superiors to require rigorous long-term tests.[27] But the White House had ordered the agency to promote biotechnology and the FDA responded by recruiting Michael Taylor, Monsanto’s former attorney, to head up the formation of GMO policy. That policy, which is in effect today, denies knowledge of scientists’ concerns and declares that no safety studies on GMOs are required. It is up to Monsanto and the other biotech companies to determine if their foods are safe. Mr. Taylor later became Monsanto’s vice president.
Dangerously few studies, untraceable diseases
AAEM states, "GM foods have not been properly tested" and "pose a serious health risk." Not a single human clinical trial on GMOs has been published. A 2007 review of published scientific literature on the "potential toxic effects/health risks of GM plants" revealed "that experimental data are very scarce." The author concludes his review by asking, "Where is the scientific evidence showing that GM plants/food are toxicologically safe, as assumed by the biotechnology companies?"[28]
Famed Canadian geneticist David Suzuki answers, "The experiments simply haven’t been done and we now have become the guinea pigs." He adds, "Anyone that says, ‘Oh, we know that this is perfectly safe,’ I say is either unbelievably stupid or deliberately lying."[29]
Dr. Schubert points out, "If there are problems, we will probably never know because the cause will not be traceable and many diseases take a very long time to develop." If GMOs happen to cause immediate and acute symptoms with a unique signature, perhaps then we might have a chance to trace the cause.
This is precisely what happened during a US epidemic in the late 1980s. The disease was fast acting, deadly, and caused a unique measurable change in the blood-but it still took more than four years to identify that an epidemic was even occurring. By then it had killed about 100 Americans and caused 5,000-10,000 people to fall sick or become permanently disabled. It was caused by a genetically engineered brand of a food supplement called L-tryptophan.
If other GM foods are contributing to the rise of autism, obesity, diabetes, asthma, cancer, heart disease, allergies, reproductive problems, or any other common health problem now plaguing Americans, we may never know. In fact, since animals fed GMOs had such a wide variety of problems, susceptible people may react to GM food with multiple symptoms. It is therefore telling that in the first nine years after the large scale introduction of GM crops in 1996, the incidence of people with three or more chronic diseases nearly doubled, from 7% to 13%.[30]
To help identify if GMOs are causing harm, the AAEM asks their "members, the medical community, and the independent scientific community to gather case studies potentially related to GM food consumption and health effects, begin epidemiological research to investigate the role of GM foods on human health, and conduct safe methods of determining the effect of GM foods on human health."
Citizens need not wait for the results before taking the doctors advice to avoid GM foods. People can stay away from anything with soy or corn derivatives, cottonseed and canola oil, and sugar from GM sugar beets-unless it says organic or "non-GMO." There is a pocket Non-GMO Shopping Guide, co-produced by the Institute for Responsible Technology and the Center for Food Safety, which is available as a download, as well as in natural food stores and in many doctors’ offices.
If even a small percentage of people choose non-GMO brands, the food industry will likely respond as they did in Europe -by removing all GM ingredients. Thus, AAEM’s non-GMO prescription may be a watershed for the US food supply.
 ***********************************
International bestselling author and independent filmmaker Jeffrey M. Smith is the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology and the leading spokesperson on the health dangers of GMOs. His first book, Seeds of Deception is the world’s bestselling book on the subject. His second, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, identifies 65 risks of GMOs and demonstrates how superficial government approvals are not competent to find most of them. He invited the biotech industry to respond in writing with evidence to counter each risk, but correctly predicted that they would refuse, since they don’t have the data to show that their products are safe.
 


[2] David Schubert, personal communication to H. Penfound, Greenpeace Canada , October 25, 2002.
[3] Irina Ermakova, "Genetically modified soy leads to the decrease of weight and high mortality of rat pups of the first generation. Preliminary studies," Ecosinform 1 (2006): 4-9.
[4] Irina Ermakova, "Experimental Evidence of GMO Hazards," Presentation at Scientists for a GM Free Europe, EU Parliament, Brussels , June 12, 2007
[5] Irina Ermakova, "Experimental Evidence of GMO Hazards," Presentation at Scientists for a GM Free Europe , EU Parliament
Brussels , June 12, 2007
 
[6] L. Vecchio et al, "Ultrastructural Analysis of Testes from Mice Fed on Genetically Modified Soybean," European Journal of Histochemistry 48, no. 4 (Oct-Dec 2004):449-454.
[7] Oliveri et al., "Temporary Depression of Transcription in Mouse Pre-implantion Embryos from Mice Fed on Genetically Modified Soybean," 48th Symposium of the Society for Histochemistry, Lake Maggiore ( Italy ), September 7-10, 2006.
[8] Alberta Velimirov and Claudia Binter, "Biological effects of transgenic maize NK603xMON810 fed in long term reproduction studies in mice," Forschungsberichte der Sektion IV, Band 3/2008
[9] Jerry Rosman, personal communication, 2006
[10] See for example, A. Dutton, H. Klein, J. Romeis, and F. Bigler, "Uptake of Bt-toxin by herbivores feeding on transgenic maize and consequences for the predator Chrysoperia carnea," Ecological Entomology 27 (2002): 441-7; and J. Romeis, A. Dutton, and F. Bigler, "Bacillus thuringiensis toxin (Cry1Ab) has no direct effect on larvae of the green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea (Stephens) (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae)," Journal of Insect Physiology 50, no. 2-3 (2004): 175-183.
[11] Washington State Department of Health, "Report of health surveillance activities: Asian gypsy moth control program," (Olympia, WA: Washington State Dept. of Health, 1993).
[12] M. Green, et al., "Public health implications of the microbial pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis: An epidemiological study, Oregon , 1985-86," Amer. J. Public Health 80, no. 7(1990): 848-852.
[13] Ashish Gupta et. al., "Impact of Bt Cotton on Farmers’ Health (in Barwani and Dhar District of Madhya Pradesh)," Investigation Report, Oct-Dec 2005.
[14] Sunday India , October, 26, 2008
[15] October 24, 2005 correspondence between Arpad Pusztai and Brian John
[16] John M. Burns, "13-Week Dietary Subchronic Comparison Study with MON 863 Corn in Rats Preceded by a 1-Week Baseline Food Consumption Determination with PMI Certified Rodent Diet #5002," December 17, 2002 http://www.
monsanto.com/monsanto/content/
sci_tech/prod_safety/fullratstudy.pdf
[17] Alberto Finamore, et al, "Intestinal and Peripheral Immune Response to MON810 Maize Ingestion in Weaning and Old Mice," J. Agric. Food Chem., 2008, 56 (23), pp 11533-11539, November 14, 2008
[18] See L Zolla, et al, "Proteomics as a complementary tool for identifying unintended side effects occurring in transgenic maize seeds as a result of genetic modifications," J Proteome Res. 2008 May;7(5):1850-61; Hye-Yung Yum, Soo-Young Lee, Kyung-Eun Lee, Myung-Hyun Sohn, Kyu-Earn Kim, "Genetically Modified and Wild Soybeans: An immunologic comparison," Allergy and Asthma Proceedings 26, no. 3 (May-June 2005): 210-216(7); and Gendel, "The use of amino acid sequence alignments to assess potential allergenicity of proteins used in genetically modified foods," Advances in Food and Nutrition Research 42 (1998), 45-62.
 
[19] A. Pusztai and S. Bardocz, "GMO in animal nutrition: potential benefits and risks," Chapter 17, Biology of Nutrition in Growing Animals, R. Mosenthin, J. Zentek and T. Zebrowska (Eds.) Elsevier, October 2005
[20] Hye-Yung Yum, Soo-Young Lee, Kyung-Eun Lee, Myung-Hyun Sohn, Kyu-Earn Kim, "Genetically Modified and Wild Soybeans: An immunologic comparison," Allergy and Asthma Proceedings 26, no. 3 (May-June 2005): 210-216(7).
[21] "Mortality in Sheep Flocks after Grazing on Bt Cotton Fields-Warangal District, Andhra Pradesh" Report of the Preliminary Assessment, April 2006, http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp
[22] Personal communication and visit, January 2009.
[23] Jeffrey M. Smith, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, Yes! Books, Fairfield , IA USA 2007
[24] Arpad Pusztai, "Can Science Give Us the Tools for Recognizing Possible Health Risks for GM Food?" Nutrition and Health 16 (2002): 73-84.
[25] Stéphane Foucart, "Controversy Surrounds a GMO," Le Monde, 14 December 2004; referencing, John M. Burns, "13-Week Dietary Subchronic Comparison Study with MON 863 Corn in Rats Preceded by a 1-Week Baseline Food Consumption Determination with PMI Certified Rodent Diet #5002," December 17, 2002 http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto/content/sci_tech/prod_safety/fullratstudy.pdf 
[26] Netherwood et al, "Assessing the survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract," Nature Biotechnology 22 (2004): 2.
[27] See memos at www.biointegrity.org
[28] José Domingo, "Toxicity Studies of Genetically Modified Plants : A Review of the Published Literature," Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 2007, vol. 47, no8, pp. 721-733
[29] Angela Hall, "Suzuki warns against hastily accepting GMOs", The Leader-Post ( Canada ), 26 April 2005.
[30] Kathryn Anne Paez, et al, "Rising Out-Of-Pocket Spending For Chronic Conditions: A Ten-Year Trend," Health Affairs, 28, no. 1 (2009): 15-25

 


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Pollution Can Change Your DNA in 3 Days according to newly published Study

Breathing in  polluted air may wreak havoc on our DNA, reprogramming genes in as few as three days and causing increased rates of cancer and other diseases.

This a new new study that tracked DNA damage in 63 steel-foundry workers in Brescia (Italy) who, under their normal factory conditions, were exposed to particulate matter. Particulate matter includes suspended, tiny bits of dust, metal, or soot in the air, which can lodge deep in the lungs. Exposure to the substance has been linked to respiratory diseases, lung cancer, and heart problems.
The same damage may occur in city dwellers exposed to normal air, the researchers say.
Scientists know little about how inhaling particulate matter can cause health problems, according to lead study author Andrea Baccarelli of the University of Milan. But they did find that exposed workers’ DNA was damaged by a slowed rate of "methylation," a biological process in which genes are organized into different chemical groups. Fewer groups means that fewer genes are expressed—or made into proteins—a crucial process in the body’s regular maintenance.
Reduced-size gene groups like the ones observed in the new study have also been found in the blood DNA of lung cancer patients.
Widespread Damage
In the study, the workers’ blood was sampled on the morning of the first day of their workweeks—before they were heavily exposed to the foundry’s air—and again a few days later.
Comparisons between the two samples revealed significant changes in the methylation of four genes that may suppress tumors, said Baccarelli, who presented his research May 17 at the International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego, California.
You might not have to be a steelworker to sustain this kind of genetic damage, Baccarelli added.
It’s true that air near the steel foundry contains about ten times more particulate matter than ambient—or normal—air, and a larger fraction of foundry-air particles are metals.
But the team speculates that the same damage can occur in city dwellers—the effects, however, take weeks or months to show up. For instance, Baccarelli has done previous research that shows elderly people in Boston had DNA damage from breathing in particulate matter. But Baccarelli added that "our results need to be confirmed in air pollution studies before they can be extended to the general population."
The new study strengthens the link between particulate inhalation and lung cancer, said John Heffner,  professor of medicine at Oregon Health and ScienceUniversity and a past president of the American Thoracic Society, who did not participate in the research.
"Other investigators have shown that inhalation of particulate matter affects DNA through the methylation process," he said. "What these investigators have done is show that the genes affected are ones that are known to be related to the development of lung cancer."
Related work by Baccarelli’s team also raises the possibility that methylation damage from particulate matter can be slowed or even reversed with folic acid, a vitamin naturally found in many foods.
The vitamin "may make methylation machineries more efficient," lead study author Baccarelli said. "We found that subjects with higher intakes of methyl nutrients were protected from some of the cardiac effects of particulate matter."
References:
Breathe deeply into your genes!: genetic variants and air pollution effects.
Baccarelli A., Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2009 Mar 15;179(6):431-2.  
 and
Rapid DNA methylation changes after exposure to traffic particles.
Baccarelli A, Wright RO, Bollati V, Tarantini L, Litonjua AA, Suh HH, Zanobetti A, Sparrow D, Vokonas PS, Schwartz J.
Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2009 Apr 1;179(7):523-4.
Laboratory of Environmental Epigenetics, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Milan, Via San Barnaba 8, 20122 Milan, Italy
RATIONALE: Exposure to particulate air pollution has been related to increased hospitalization and death, particularly from cardiovascular disease. Lower blood DNA methylation content is found in processes related to cardiovascular outcomes, such as oxidative stress, aging, and atherosclerosis. OBJECTIVES: We evaluated whether particulate pollution modifies DNA methylation in heavily methylated sequences with high representation throughout the human genome. METHODS: We measured DNA methylation of long interspersed nucleotide element (LINE)-1 and Alu repetitive elements by quantitative polymerase chain reaction-pyrosequencing of 1,097 blood samples from 718 elderly participants in the Boston area Normative Aging Study. We used covariate-adjusted mixed models to account for within-subject correlation in repeated measures. We estimated the effects on DNA methylation of ambient particulate pollutants (black carbon, particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter < or = 2.5 microm [PM2.5], or sulfate) in multiple time windows (4 h to 7 d) before the examination. We estimated standardized regression coefficients (beta) expressing the fraction of a standard deviation change in DNA methylation associated with a standard deviation increase in exposure. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Repetitive element DNA methylation varied in association with time-related variables, such as day of the week and season. LINE-1 methylation decreased after recent exposure to higher black carbon (beta = -0.11; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.18 to -0.04; P = 0.002) and PM2.5 (beta = -0.13; 95% CI, -0.19 to -0.06; P < 0.001 for the 7-d moving average). In two-pollutant models, only black carbon, a tracer of traffic particles, was significantly associated with LINE-1 methylation (beta = -0.09; 95% CI, -0.17 to -0.01; P = 0.03). No association was found with Alu methylation (P > 0.12). CONCLUSIONS: We found decreased repeated-element methylation after exposure to traffic particles. Whether decreased methylation mediates exposure-related health effects remains to be determined.
 
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