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Genetically Engineered Probiotics

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 01, 2011 at 9:04 PM

In other Genetic Engineering/Modification threads, I think the general consensus is "stay away" from the foodstuffs. However, just saw an article that puts a different spin on that.

http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/32249/?p1=A2

Basic idea is to genetically modify probiotic bugs to enhance their positive effects and reduce their negatives, targetting those with intestinal problems.

Sounds good in theory. However, I'm not keen on it. Bacteria like to swap genes left and right in your gut, and these things will get into wild pretty easily. I can see bad things happening pretty easily when screwing around with probiotics. However, I'm not a sufferer of Crohns or the like. I might think differently if I were.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 02, 2011
at 12:47 AM

Good point. I'm sure that's one of the top items. However, they already copyright/trademark currently existing non-GM'ed strains.

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3 Answers

3
9e1dedf12f6ee75b7fe460960971fd21

(624)

on February 01, 2011
at 09:46 PM

The only point for a company to genetically engineer probiotics is so they can copyright them. No one is going to get rich on kefir grains.

I doubt that there are any studies showing that the GMO probiotics are superior to traditional foods with un-trademarked bacteria. The 'precautionary principle' should tell us to avoid these unnecessary GMO products.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 02, 2011
at 12:47 AM

Good point. I'm sure that's one of the top items. However, they already copyright/trademark currently existing non-GM'ed strains.

1
154d799847153f5589f99496a9bdbb71

on February 01, 2011
at 11:59 PM

One of my favorite quotes which sums up my view on paleo is this: "Evolution is cleverer than you are." -Leslie Orgel

The point is it's difficult to improve on evolution. Bacteria go through thousands of generations in a year. Humans have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. There are about 100 trillion bacteria in each human body. Do the math. That's a hell of a lot of trial and error. If bacteria in the human body could be more effective, then why aren't they already?

What most likely would happen is that you may be able to make something (a food, a bacteria) better in one aspect, but there will most likely be unintended consequences.

Imagine that I have just invented a new chemical. It can make crops grow larger, feeding more people. It can help eliminate infectious diseases, thus saving countless lives. I have just been awarded the Nobel Prize for my invention. There are no studies showing that my invention is harmful. The government makes no negative claims about my invention at all. How should you approach this chemical? Optimistically or suspiciously? What if the thing I invented was DDT? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT

0
B203bb1f46fdecd3ac6298d346e16e76

on March 19, 2011
at 04:57 PM

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the bowel. Usually Inflammatory Bowel Disease shows up as either Ulcerative Colitis or the potentially more serious Crohn’s Disease(neither is a cakewalk though). A new study by Northwestern University took a common probiotic(L. Acidophilus) & genetically modified it so that it lacked the gene “phosphoglycerol esterase” which normally causes inflammation in the gut. The probiotic was given to mice who had two different types of colitis. After a 13-day treatment the mice were almost completely free of inflammation and their disease was halted by up to 95%. The modified probiotic apparently works by acting as a calming agent on the autoimmune system so that it stops attacking the gut.

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