Mutations and Corn and Diabetes, Oh My!
Wake up Dorothy! This is not a dream. It's time to take control
and get back to Kansas where corporations and governments do the
right thing and where they put the safety of you, your loved ones
and your dog before profits and corporate contributions.
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, who has been in one scrape after another, stands before the great and powerful Oz hoping that he will solve all of her problems. Meanwhile, the man behind the curtain pulls one lever after another attempting to convince her that this is true. As the story unfolds, it turns out that the great and powerful Wizard is a fraud and that the man behind the curtain has his own agenda. It is only when Dorothy confronts the fraud and takes control of her own life that she manages to get back to Kansas where people really care about one another and no one threatens to kill you and your dog.
In the real life version of Oz, the agencies of our government charged with protecting the public good are, like the wizard, a sham; responding to guys pulling levers behind the curtains of corporate boardrooms. Nowhere has this been more evident than at the FDA where, despite the reservations of many scientists, corporations were permitted to generate and distribute genetically mutated staple foods like corn, soy, potatoes and tomatoes. This was done with amazingly little publicity. What’s more, it was done with only cursory testing for their safety and no testing at all for possible long-term effects.
The corporate lever-pullers assure us that their motives are benign. They want to feed a hungry world. They want to protect the food supply from predatory insects and weeds. They want to assure that children living in areas where corporate mono cropping has destroyed the traditional food supply get enough vitamin A to prevent blindness. They euphemistically call their mutated foods genetically modified organisms (GMOs): the corporate lever-pullers know that we all learned in school that mutations are far more likely to be bad than good. In effect, we are being asked to "ignore that man behind the curtain."
The facts belie this rhetoric.
Farmers were promised that patented and premium-priced mutated corn would insure protection from corn borers. Yet, as predicted by scientists with functional brain cells and no corporate ties, the borers that consume Monsanto’s Bt corn are already developing resistance to the bacterium. We are losing one of our most valuable natural, safe and inexpensive pesticides, but I’m sure there are other patented (and expensive) ones waiting in the wings. Fields of Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready soybeans can be sprayed with massive amounts of RoundUp for weed control without harming the crop, insuring that farmers growing soy can use only RoundUp for weed control. An obvious ploy to monopolize the market.
Full-page ads for mutated golden rice tout the humanitarian benefits of gene splicing to save the sight of malnourished children, while neglecting to mention that a small child would have to eat massive amounts of rice each day in order to obtain even the minimum daily requirement of vitamin A.
Profits and the control of markets, not benign concerns, are the most important factor in the development and distribution of these mutated foods.
I’ve begun my own personal campaign against GMOs. While shopping, I often copy the 800 numbers or the addresses from the labels of prepared foods and call or send post cards inquiring if ingredients such as corn oils, thickeners or sweeteners, or soy oils or emulsifiers are GMO free. Since many other countries are reluctant to import the genetically altered products we’ve grown, I assume that the American public is getting most of them. It’s estimated that more than seventy per cent of processed foods contain GMOs. And our dogs and cats are getting them, too. Corn is now the leading ingredient of most pet foods, none of which are labeled GMO free. If I receive no reply to my inquiry, I know the answer. The firms that refuse to use GMOs are happy to tell you so. I’ve received many replies to the effect that "there is no evidence that GMOs are harmful…" Unfortunately, that’s true, but only because few have looked for evidence of harmful effects.
Complaints to elected officials concerning the cavalier way in which GMOs were approved have been largely ignored because of the system of bribery we call campaign financing. Political pressure was a major factor in the approval of these mutated foodstuffs. However, some corporations are responding to public concern. McDonalds stopped buying genetically modified russet potatoes in the past year because of consumer concern. Frito-Lay does not buy GMO corn for its products (but some of its oils may not be safe). Gerber will not use GMO products in their baby food. Expressing your reservations about the safety of GMOs to corporations whose products contain them does work. Do it!
I began my campaign because I’m an acupuncturist. In the late winter and early spring following the first significant harvest of GMO foods, I began to see exactly the same energy imbalance in nearly every client I treated. Within six months, it was endemic. The acupuncture meridian that we in the West refer to as the Spleen meridian was deficient in everyone, but the deficiency always began on the right side. Both the ubiquity of the particular imbalance and its one-sidedness are something I have never experienced in the twenty-one years I’ve been doing acupuncture. The types of problems people can develop because of this imbalance include type 2 diabetes, the rate of which has increased 70% in three years. Suddenly, teenagers and twenty-year-olds are developing this disease, which is normally reserved for those in middle age. In the United States the rate of type 2 diabetes among young people has increased ten-fold in the same three years, an incredible increase and one that should raise red flags all over the place. Fibromyalgia, weight gain, digestive problems and chronic fatigue, all of which can be associated with a deficiency in the Spleen meridian, are also rampant.
I believe that the culprit is a rogue protein produced by one of the mutated foods we are ingesting, most likely corn. The ubiquity of the one-sidedness was the tip off. Nothing natural affects meridians so consistently on one side. But when genes are spliced, the two intertwined strands of the double helix are severed and the gene is added to only one of them. In this case it was the strand that produced right-handed proteins. Living organisms, including ourselves, are mostly water and proteins. Our DNA and its genes are lists of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. DNA is, in effect, nothing but lists of the ingredients for the various proteins needed for life to exist. Once life begins, given an adequate intake of protein, these lists provide all of the information necessary to grow a life form (both its right and left sides) and keep it functioning throughout its lifetime.
Most of the proteins we ingest are broken down by stomach acids and are harmlessly incorporated into our tissues. This is what I learned in physiology. But all ingested proteins are not broken down. Some escape the process of digestion, enter our bodies intact, and become information. Or they can become misinformation.
The purpose of gene-splicing is to take information encoded in the DNA of one species and transfer it to another. In the case of mutated corn, a gene from a bacterium that codes for a protein fatal to corn borers is spliced into the DNA of the corn itself. The corn now produces this fatal protein on its own, saving the farmer the trouble of having to spread it on his fields. In a perfect world, DNA manipulation might work safely if the neat and tidy formula, "one gene, one protein", originally proposed by Nobel laureate Francis Crick had any basis in reality. It turns out that it doesn’t. The real world is complicated and it happens that although a gene does code for a particular list of amino acids, the action of RNA upon this list of amino acids can produce any number of proteins.
First of all, RNA can rearrange the amino acids from the original sequence encoded in the DNA into other sequences that might also make sense to the body and have effects upon it. This happens in much the same way that the letters of a word can be rearranged into anagrams. For example, the letters of the word live can also be arranged into evil, vile or veil. All four make sense in our language and all will have an effect on the meaning of any sentence they are part of. And just as the word live seems positive and veil is neutral, evil and vile definitely have negative connotations. The problem with gene splicing, especially between species, is that we don’t know all of the arrangements produced by RNA’s action on a particular gene that might make sense to the body and affect it. But if we don’t know which can have effects on the body, we have no way of determining which ones are positive, neutral or negative in their effects.
To further complicate matters, it is not just the sequence of proteins that is important. The shape of the protein is also important because it determines if and where it will attach to cells in the body. In other words, the shape of a protein also determines whether or not it will have an effect upon us. The amino acids that form proteins are bound together like beads in a necklace. But proteins have side bonds and they fold, giving them breadth and depth as well as length. It is as if the eighth bead of a necklace were attached to the seventeenth bead and the fourteenth bead attached to the twenty third bead and the twenty-seventh to the twelfth and then the forty-first to the first and so on. A tangled mess. And indeed, proteins do look like tangled messes. This folding, controlled by chaperon RNA, gives the protein shape or, in the jargon of science, surface architecture. In the biochemistry of proteins, surface architecture is almost everything since it determines if and where the protein might attach. It is very possible that just as two or more identical necklaces might tangle in different ways, proteins can do likewise and if they do, they might have entirely different effects in the body.
The truth is that when we splice genes we have no way of controlling or predicting which proteins will be produced by the added gene. We know we’re getting the protein we want because it’s easy to test for that one. Once we have it, we can spray the hell out of the soy or we can stop spraying the corn or we can find measurable vitamin A. What we can’t test for are all of the other proteins that might also be produced either by re-sequencing or folding in diverse ways. And if we don’t know what they are, we can’t tell what they’re doing to us when we ingest them. What they do might be significant. They might be slowly killing us. "And our little [corn-fed] dogs, too".
This process we call life works very much like the World Wide Web does. Information in the form of molecules, all of which are primarily proteins, are manufactured by our cells and spewed willy-nilly into our circulatory system, into the interstitial spaces between our cells and into our cerebral spinal fluid. They are spewed in much the same fashion that information is spewed all over the Web and the Internet. At any one moment, there are many more of these molecules in each of our bodies than there are messages on the Internet. But unlike messages on the Internet, they have no addresses telling them where to go. They have surface architecture, or shape. And they have an electric charge.
As these information molecules journey throughout the body, the surface of every cell they pass is covered with myriad other proteins called receptors. Once again, each of our bodies has more receptors than there are addresses on the Internet or sites on the Web. These receptors are unable to request the instructions and information they and their cells want from the billions of circulating information molecules. But they, too, have surface architecture. Like two contiguous pieces of a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle, the surface architecture of receptors compliments the surface architecture of some of the information molecules—the ones with the information and instructions that their cells can act upon. The receptors also have electric charges and they attract information molecules in much the same fashion that the opposite poles of two magnets will attract one another.
These receptors are not passive. If healthy, they constantly change their conformation, assuming first one shape, than another from their repertoire, in an effort to seduce a passing molecule with appropriate surface architecture. If the chemistry is right, i.e., the surface architecture meshes, they couple and the information molecule delivers its information and instructions. The cellular machinery, also made of proteins, will perform whatever work that particular information molecule tells that particular cell to do. Once again, in a neat and tidy world, a particular information molecule would attach to a particular type of receptor on a particular type of cell and result in a particular effect.
In the real world, however, the attachment of a particular information molecule can cause entirely different effects depending upon the type of cell to which it attaches. The cellular changes that occur as any one particular molecule circulates through the body, attaching and unattaching are unpredictable using Western medicine’s current model. For example, a molecule called VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide) sucks water out of the contents of the bowel if it attaches to a cell in the gut, but it promotes the growth and repair of neurons and dendrites if it attaches to a cell in the brain. Neither of these effects is related in the model currently employed by Western medicine. A molecule from outside the body can interfere with the binding of our own molecules. There is another molecule that can attach to the same VIP receptors on the same cells and when it attaches, the normal stuff doesn’t happen. That molecule is called HIV, and when it attaches to these same VIP receptors, water is not sucked out of the gut and neurons and dendrites aren’t repaired. Eventually, the result is the watery diarrhea and/or dementia of AIDS.
Couplings of receptors with our own information molecules never last very long. Information molecules and receptors are notoriously promiscuous, sometimes coupling thousands of times a second and not with the same partners. This is not true of some molecules from outside the body. For example, the rabies virus and curare both attach to acetylcholine receptors on our neurons and stay attached, or at least, stay attached much longer than our own acetylcholine does. In short order, both these molecules shut down the nervous system and death ensues. Or, perhaps, they vacate the receptor, but somehow leave it unreceptive to its usual molecules. It’s like a game of musical chairs. Different types of information molecules are vying for the same receptors. But if a rogue molecule cheats and doesn’t vacate the receptor to which it’s attached when the music stops, or if it leaves the receptor in a state that precludes reoccupation, or if it overwhelmingly outnumbers the body’s normal molecules, after a while the rogue molecules will have the lion’s share of the receptors. If this occurs, the effects that normally result when our own information molecules attach just don't occur. As with other forms of coupling, offspring may be produced. In the above example, when VIP attaches, a cascade of information molecules called cytokines is produced. These new molecules contain entirely different information, attach to other receptors and produce cellular changes totally unlike those produced by their paternal information molecule. When these progeny molecules attach to other receptors on the same cell or on other cells somewhere in the body, I suspect that they also produce progeny. And when they attach, still other progeny are produced attaching to yet other receptors. I think this process repeats itself until VIP is again produced and the cycle continues. This self-perpetuating cascade of information in the form of proteins is the most important communication system in the body, far more important than the nervous system, which acts only in response to this system. If I were asked, my definition of life would be that life is a cyclic self-perpetuating cascade of protein information molecules and their receptors. And good health is an abundance of information molecules and receptors in the proper balance.
None of this is new. We modern Westerners have seriously underrated the wisdom of ancient and indigenous peoples. The medicine wheels used in healing all over our planet by indigenous peoples are attempts to map the ways in which the functions mediated by our protein information system relate and network. The Elements that comprise the medicine wheels represent groups of information molecules and receptors that act in concert to mediate a group of related functions. Ancient and indigenous people speak of the cycle of life. And it is their belief that good health requires a balance of these elements. Molecules from outside the body that we ingest, breathe or pick up in some other way can upset that balance. When a protein such as HIV, curare, or perhaps, a rogue protein from a mutated food attaches to a receptor, the usual effects might not occur, offspring might not be produced or receptors might not remain receptive. The cascade suffers interference. The process we call life gradually slows down and poor health ensues. Death occurs when the cascade stops.
Everything above, except my speculation about the cyclic nature of this protein information system, is based on science. (But after twenty years of doing acupuncture, I know that it’s the way it works.) What follows is not science. It hasn’t been tested and measured, as science requires. It is my best guess as to what’s happening.
To explain how I think GMOs are harming people, I’m going to have to talk a bit about acupuncture and why and how I think it works after more than twenty years of observing the results of treatments, reading about the science of proteins and thinking about it. The basic premise of acupuncture is that energy, called chi, or life force, circulates in the body though channels called meridians. Half the meridians are yin and half are yang. If chi flows through the meridians in a balanced and orderly fashion we are healthy. If the flow of chi is disrupted or unbalanced, illness ensues. An Element is a pair of meridians, one is yin and the other yang. This is what I learned in acupuncture school. And it is a marvelous metaphor for what I’ve learned reading the science of proteins. I believe that chi is the electromagnetic field produced by the activity of all of the hundreds of billions of above mentioned electrically charged protein molecules as they travel, change conformation and couple with one another. But I don’t think that chi actually travels through the meridians. Rather, the meridians are electromagnetic signatures produced by the activity of information molecules and receptors.
I have often used the analogy of a magnet’s electromagnetic lines of force when explaining the meridians to clients. I remember an experiment we did in grade school where we placed a piece of paper over a magnet and sprinkled it with iron filings. The filings lined up in roughly parallel lines that met at the poles of the magnet, in much the fashion that the meridians are roughly parallel, meeting on the extremities, the head and the upper torso.
I believe that the meridians are electromagnetic lines of force produced by the electromagnetic field known as chi. The yang meridians are electromagnetic lines of force produced by the activity of information molecules as they travel throughout the body seeking appropriate receptors. And the yin meridians are electromagnetic lines of force produced by the activity of receptors on cell walls throughout the body as they seek to seduce appropriate information molecules.
There are twelve meridians: six are yin and six are yang, and they are bilateral. Each has a channel on either side of the body. One or more of these bilateral yin-yang pairs of meridians represent an element. In other words, each element represents a group of related information molecules, their receptors and the effects that result when they couple. The spleen and stomach meridians and their respective information molecules and receptors engender the functions of the Element called Earth. Among the many functions of Earth are the processing, distribution, and utilization of every calorie of energy we ingest. Obviously, insulin is an information molecule of the stomach meridian and the insulin receptor is associated with the spleen. What I have found when I test a reasonably healthy client’s meridians is that both sides of the stomach meridian are within normal parameters. So is the left side of the spleen meridian. But the right side of the spleen is hardly there at all. This indicates that there are plenty of insulin and other Earth information molecules in circulation leaving their electrical signature. It also indicates that insulin and the other Earth receptors on the left side of the body are active enough to produce an appropriate electromagnetic line of force. But it would seem to indicate that the insulin and other Earth receptors on the right side no longer function as they should. If we go back to our game of musical chairs, there are three possibilities that might account for this. First, these receptors may have been highjacked by rogue molecules that won’t vacate the receptor, preventing insulin from attaching and generating its usual effects. Or, these receptors may have been disabled by a rogue molecule, leaving it less receptive to insulin. The third possibility is that there are so many rogue molecules in circulation that the chances of insulin attaching are virtually nil.
What we have when insulin can’t or won’t attach to insulin receptors is type 2 diabetes. Can I prove I’m right? No. But I’m sure enough that I have forsworn gin and tonic because I can’t find tonic that is not sweetened with corn syrup. I won’t ingest anything that contains corn or corn by-products. Why do I think the molecule is coming from corn? Because the only people I’ve treated that have not exhibited this pattern of imbalance are people who are allergic to corn and won’t touch it. In addition, the tortilla consuming Mexican American population seems to have suffered the greatest increase in type 2 diabetes. In the Ozarks where I live, one in three Hispanic Americans age fifty or above is now afflicted with this disease.
It would not be difficult for a scientist with a lab to expose insulin receptors to mutated corn in vitro and see what happens. It would certainly cost less than finding new and better cures for type 2 diabetes, though it probably wouldn’t be as lucrative.
Both acupuncture and acupressure can help. I believe that what occurs when acupuncture points on a yin meridian are stimulated is that closed receptors open and become more receptive. There are herbs that seem to help a great deal. But the only one I know of that has been tested scientifically is fenugreek.
The best strategy to protect yourself is avoidance. Avoid all GMOs until and unless they have been thoroughly tested, especially corn. This is not easy. Corn by-products are in everything from pop and candy to catsup and salad dressings. Read labels. Online, www.thecampaign.org or www.greenpeace.org both have information on which foods have been mutated. Write, call or e-mail Congress. Demand thorough and comprehensive testing on foods that are genetically altered. The ‘substantially equivalent’ standard used by the FDA is a euphemistic copout. Demand stringent labeling. (Under the new federal guidelines for labeling organic food, small amounts of GMOs can be present in foods with an organic designation.) Write, call or e-mail companies that might be using GMOs in their products. Tell them you will not buy their products unless you can be sure they are mutation-free. When you get the song and dance to the effect that "there is no evidence that GMOs are harmful…." tell them you want to see the scientific evidence that proves that they are absolutely safe. Boycott Monsanto and other companies involved in producing these ‘frankenfoods’.
Wake up Dorothy. This is not a dream. It’s time to take control and get back to Kansas where corporations and governments do the right thing and where they put the safety of you, your loved ones and your dog before profits and corporate contributions.
© Copyright 2002, Blaize Malone
About the author:
Blaize Malone, Lic. Ac. UK, C. A. Ca, lives in Springfield Missouri. She holds a degree in acupuncture from the College of Traditional Acupuncture in the United Kingdom and has been practicing acupuncture (mostly on humans) for twenty-two years. In her previous existence, as a project director for RCA, she designed and programmed real-time communication systems for airlines. Currently, she is at work on a book that explains the science behind the system of Elements used by indigenous peoples throughout the world. Its working title is "Resurrecting the Medicine Wheel - Acupuncture, the Elements and Proteomics".