Though the risks to health could be enormous, it seems likely that food-borne vaccines will soon be in food. Is the genetic engineering of everyone through vaccines in our food imminent?
by Heidi Stevenson
The planning and research for genetically engineered fruits and vegetables to inject vaccines into our digestive tracts started about two decades ago. It’s now approaching reality—and, of course, it’s being promoted. Even an organic gardening site is promoting them! (Though one must wonder how that site has the gall to use the term organic.)
Not only is this genetic engineering of food, it’s engineering of our gastrointestinal and immune systems—and the potential for disaster is enormous.
One of the targets is so-called “bad” bacteria of the intestinal tract. The idea is to deliver antigens to gut bacteria that are believed to be harmful. However, no consideration is given to the fact that elimination of any single element of the gastrointestinal biome will necessarily result in something taking its place. Even if that something is believed to be beneficial bacteria, it will be out of balance.
No one knows what the ultimate result will be, other than that the gut biota will be permanently changed.
We already know that antibiotics alone have done irreparable and permanent damage to intestinal bacteria, and that it’s passed down the generations. Antibiotics also damage the immune system. This is a single type of drug that permanently affects the intestinal flora, though that wasn’t the purpose.
Now, with food-borne vaccines, the goal itself is to play god with the balance of gut bacteria.
Dr. Barry Marshall, who identified Helicobacter pylori as the cause for stomach ulcers, is now working on a food-based vaccine against H. pylori. He speaks of food-based vaccines as if they are the best thing since sliced bread:
One of the things we might be able to do with this vaccine is vaccinate people for the long term. The (bacterium) strain will sit there and vaccinate you for weeks or months. … Then there are others which colonise you temporarily which would be good for things like flu vaccines.
He appears particularly excited with the relative permanence of food-based vaccines, but completely ignores the potential risks. He also seems to ignore the fact that H. pylori is found in people who don’t have ulcers and never develop them. This would indicate that their existence in the stomach is normal, so killing them off in people without ulcers threatens the balance of gut bacteria in healthy people without ulcers—and it might be permanent.
Since the body must achieve homeostasis—a state of balance—there is no telling what will replace H. pylori, but there’s little doubt that something will. We have no idea what that might be, or if it could be an infectious agent more virulent than H. pylori.
It’s well known that one of the first defenses against infectious diseases is the mucus membranes, the protective coating of internal membranes in the mouth, throat, nasal passages, intestines, and other parts of the body. It traps and kills most invaders. It does this without the use of antibodies. Back in 2000, Scientific American noted that a primary reason vaccines have limited effectiveness is that they bypass the mucosal membranes:
Injected vaccines initially bypass mucous membranes and typically do a poor job of stimulating mucosal immune responses. But edible vaccines come into contact with the lining of the digestive tract. In theory, then, they would activate both mucosal and systemic immunity. That dual effect should, in turn, help improve protection against many dangerous microorganisms, including, importantly, the kinds that cause diarrhea.
Vaccines delivered as sprays into nasal passages already exist. FluMist is a nasal spray vaccine for influenza. Post-marketing reports of adverse events include pericarditis, anaphylaxis and other severe allergic reactions, Guillain-Barré syndrome, Bell’s Palsy, meningitis, and encephalitis. It isn’t a particularly heartening list of adverse effects when considering the use of foods as delivery agents for vaccinations.
Could new prion diseases result from this sort of approach, as happened to pig abattoir workers who dealt with aerosolized brains?
E. coli is a necessary type of bacteria found in the gut. Without it, we’re hard-pressed to survive. Though not generally thought of as a probiotic, it’s as significant to good health as vitamins. However, because of the massive use of antibiotics in factory farming of food animals and overuse and misuse of them by doctors, new varieties have developed. These new varieties often produce particularly virulent and deadly diseases.
Charles Arntzen, generally considered the leading expert on food-based vaccines, has already developed a tomato with an E. coli antigen engineered into it.
What will replace the virulent E. coli? Something will. That’s all we know. Yet, Arntzen and other researchers consistently ignore this critical point. Worse, their research short circuits any possibility of finding out until it’s too late. Vaccine studies do not address the issue of adverse effects. Whatever harm done by vaccines is left to be discovered after they’re rolled out to the general public.
Of course, genetic engineering of any sort carries great risks. As Arntzen points out in a PBS interview, one of the methods used to make food-based vaccines is the agrobacterium-mediated transformation. He describes it like this:
That’s where we first take the gene out of the virus and move it into a plant pathogen. Then the plant pathogen is a bacterium, and that moves the gene into a plant cell.
Agrobacterium is a plant pathogen. It’s known to cause galls, tumorous growths on plants. What makes it unique is that it functions by transferring genetic material from itself to plant cells, permanently changing them. Chillingly, Agrobacterium is known to be able to infect human cells. Nonetheless, genetic engineers use Agrobacterium to intentionally infect plants with their genetic materials of choice.
A new disease called Morgellons causes terrible symptoms of skin lesions, sensations like bugs crawling and stinging on the skin, fatigue, headaches, difficulty thinking, and the characteristic nearly indestructable fibers that ooze out of the skin.
Agrobacterium, an infestation known as a plant pathogen, is found in Morgellons patients, but not in people without the disease. As is typical of new diseases, the cause doesn’t receive serious research. With the exception of a small number of genuinely curious scientists, only potential treatments—profits for Big Pharma—are investigated.
As is the case with all other vaccine technologies, concern for risks is virtually nonexistent among the developers and, of course, the same is true of the FDA and other regulating agencies.
When Arntzen was asked about risks by PBS, he simply sidestepped the question:
Well, I’m very concerned about the perception issues. From a scientific standpoint, I don’t see anything inherently unsafe about what we’re doing in putting genes into, say, a tomato, that would cause a tomato to produce a vaccine. But I am extremely concerned that someone might say, “Oh, he’s putting hepatitis B in tomatoes.”
Testing of food-borne vaccines is advanced. Animal, primarily mouse, testing has shown that it works—at least, in the terms that vaccines are tested. The creation of antibodies alone is presumed to prove their effectiveness, but the so-called “gold standard” of double-blind randomly-controlled trials are never done, so the reality is questionable. In the past, it was believed that life-long immunity was provided. It’s now well accepted that the belief was wrong. (So much for “evidence-based medicine”!)
Nonetheless, testing on humans has begun:
Clearly, food-borne vaccine are close to being implemented. We all know that the FDA has never seen a vaccine it didn’t like. The real question isn’t whether they’ll be implemented. At this point, if either Agribusiness or Big Pharma wants something, our governments acquiesce. Food-borne vaccines benefit both Agribiz and Big Pharma, so there’s no room to doubt that governments will bend over backwards to get them on the market.
The real question is how insidious will the implementation be? Will they be included in school lunches? Will they be in supermarkets? Since the FDA has stated that genetically modified foods must not be labeled, does that mean that people will not be informed of a vaccine in foods they purchase?
Even if we make our intentions clear, it seems likely that these food-borne vaccines will soon be in food. The genetic engineering of everyone appears to be imminent.
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