Third, the introduction of genes for a new enzymatic pathway into plants could lead to the synthesis of totally novel or unexpected products via the interaction with endogenous pathways. Some of the products could be toxic. For example, retinoic acid (vitamin A) and derivatives of retinoic acid are used in many signaling events that control mammalian development. Since these compounds are soluble and work at ultralow concentrations, a GM plant making vitamin A may also produce retinoic acid derivatives which act as agonists or antagonists in these pathways, resulting in abnormal embryonic development.
Given the fact that genetically modified plants are going to make proteins in different amounts and perhaps totally new proteins than their parental species, what are the potential outcomes? A worst case scenario could be that an introduced bacterial toxin is modified to make it toxic to humans. Direct toxicity may be rapidly detected once the product enters the marketplace, but carcinogenic activity or toxicity caused by interaction with other foods would take decades to detect, if ever. The same outcomes would be predicted for the production of toxins or carcinogens via indirect changes in gene expression.
Finally, if the above problems are real, what can be done to address these concerns? The issue of secondary modification could be addressed by continual monitoring of the introduced gene product by mass spectroscopy. The problem is that some secondary modifications, like phosphorylation or sulfation can be lost during purification. However, the best, and to me the only reasonable solution, is to require all genetically engineered plant products for human consumption be tested for toxicity and carcinogenicity before they are marketed. These safety criteria are required for many chemicals and all drugs, and the magnitude of harm caused by a widely consumed toxic food would be much greater than that of any single drug.
Professor David Schubert
Cellular Neurobiology Lab
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
P.O. Box 85800
San Diego, CA 92186-5800
Phone: (001) (858) 453-4100
anyone up to call and confirm the info??? I doubt it as those ones know they are wrong and the info is correct...