Can DNA from GMOs be Transferred to Humans?

It’s certainly a scary thought. For years, the food industry has invested billions of dollars into convincing the public that Genetically Modified foods are safely broken down by the digestive system like non-GMO counterparts – yet an independent study claims that this may not be the case.

Over the years, we’ve been led to believe that DNA from GMOs-Genetically Modified Organisms-is harmless at the time of being absorbed by the body. Proteins and DNA, they claim, are efficiently digested so by the time they are absorbed into the blood system they are no longer in their original form, but rather contain only small molecules, amino acids and nucleic acids.

However, a study published in PLOS ONE, a well-known scientific journal, revealed that complete genes could be carried into the bloodstream by DNA fragments derived from modified food. These fragments have been shown to evade degradation in the digestive tract and enter the circulatory system. This may mean that large DNA fragments originating from GMOs are able to carry modified genes into the bloodstream. This conflicts with the food industry’s position that there’s no difference in the way transgenic and natural foods act in the body.

The Study

The assimilation process for GM foods was looked at and analyzed by four different studies involving researchers from universities in Denmark, Hungary, and the U.S. After a comprehensive study of the data concerning how the body processes different forms of GMOs, the researchers discovered that the digestion process doesn’t always break down the DNA from GMOs completely.

Not only did they find the DNA to remain whole instead of being degraded but also that it passes into the circulatory system directly, and sometimes even exceeded the human DNA level. In fact, one of the blood samples was found to contain a lower relative human DNA concentration than plant DNA.

How Much Effect Could These Genes Possibly Have on You?

The honest answer: it is tough to say. Some publications report links between this whole-gene transfer and major inflammatory conditions in the human body, but the reality is that we have not had a legitimate and independent study concerning the processing of GMOs before.

Many biotechnology companies that have attempted to study this area have only claimed that GM foods are no different from natural food – however, this is based on little credible positive evidence, so the results of this study are not facing a huge burden of scientific proof – a fact that is quite concerning.

Also of great concern, is that the presence of these transgenic genes in the small intestine was found to affect beneficial bacteria, which protect the gut against foreign organisms and also help the body in absorbing nutrients from the food. Individuals having abdominal wall perforations or ileostomies (a surgical operation in which a piece of the small intestine is diverted to an artificial opening in the abdominal wall) were seen to literally harbor, in their intestinal tracts, full sequences of DNA from GMOs.

David Suzuki, the co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, in an attempt to show the effect of the GMO genes to the human body explains that a small mutation in the body can have a huge effect in the human being. Comparing that moving a gene from one organism’s body into the body of another completely changes the context of the latter organism.

As a health-conscious consumer, you should make decisions based on all available information, even if some of it is hard to come by, or is inconclusive. At Natren, we have a firm position against modified foods and favor a natural, whole-food diet that provides our digestive system with the resources it needs to naturally sustain and defend us, and this kind of study only serves to reinforce our belief that GMOs are not a beneficial addition to our diet.