Biotech, GMO bacteria, and gut health

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 13, 2012 at 5:58 PM

I work in a molecular biology lab, and use GMO bacteria almost every day. Since the most common bacteria I are strains of E. coli, I was wondering if they somehow could be colonizing my gut. I don't have any gut problems I suppose, but it's more of a question I've been thinking of recently.

Thinking about how they could colonize:

  • Easy for bacteria to get airborne, especially during vigorous pipetting.
  • Pretty much all over the place, and even though I wear gloves, I'm sure I get some on my skin, and therefore in my mouth.

And how they couldn't:

  • The lab strains are actually rather unfit to compete with "real" E. coli, they could be out grown easily
  • They have genetic mutations that prevent horizontal gene transfer, so they can't pass their GMO plasmids to other bacteria. Theoretically.

So, what do you all think? Any Paleo people working in biotech/with GMO E. coli?

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2 Answers



on March 13, 2012
at 06:22 PM

Unless you are dealing with any pathogenic strains the lab E. coli are a bunch of wimps compared to any wild strains in your gut.

Any GMO plasmids you work with in the lab are probably inconsequential compared to the number and diversity of plasmids and transferable genes that are already contained in your gut microflora.

Also E. coli bacteria only make up a very very small amount of the bacteria living in your intestines anyway.


on February 04, 2013
at 03:41 AM

I hear that in the book seeds of decption about gmo foods that were fed to mice , the bacteria in the mice captured the gmo snipids that made roundup , thus the mice started to produce roundup in their intestines and thus got cancer and difficult to reproduce in the third generation.

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