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Plant genes 'cannot transfer to humans'

By Roger Highfield, Science Editor (Filed: 05/04/2002)

GENES in plants cannot pass to humans, as feared by some environmentalists, according to a natural experiment that has been conducted for millions of years.

Today's conclusion, which will help to allay some concerns about GM crops, has come from an analysis of arguably the most important genetic code on the planet - rice, staple diet for more than half the world's population.

The study of the japonica sub-species of rice is published today in the journal Science by a team led by Dr Stephen Goff and colleagues at the Swiss-based agrochemicals company Syngenta.

The team searched for signs of any transfer of genes between the rice and human genomes.

"There is no clear evidence for transfer," said Dr Goff, though he added: "Proving something doesn't happen is exceedingly difficult."

After sifting out genes that were shared by humans, rice and other organisms, "we found no cases that would be explained by the transmission of a gene from a plant to a human," said Dr Steven Briggs of Syngenta.

"Despite having eaten plants for many millions of years, there is no evidence that dietary DNA from plants can be taken up into the DNA of humans. Therefore a crop gene produced using biotechnology is unlikely to be acquired by livestock or humans

-- Bob in WI (, April 06, 2002


My intense opposition to GM foods has never been because I thought I would turn into a tomato with fins. Frankly, I have never heard ANYONE purport such a thing. I don't want any of it because they do cross pollinate with other plants in the same family, and I believe that if moths were supposed to be in corn God would have made it that way from the start. it's really a can of worms and there are already troubles with corn being in remote mountains in Mexico crossing with the Monsanto debacle.

-- Doreen (, April 06, 2002.

soem GM crops kill butterflys,, and some make bees act crazy,,I dont like it

-- Stan (, April 06, 2002.

My mum had a GM refrigerator and I know she would never have had anything that was not safe.

-- john hill (, April 07, 2002.

-- Kevin (, April 07, 2002.

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