Bt-Toxin: The Rise of Pesticide Resistant Species

Posted on June 10th, 2012 by comadm  |  No Comments »

In the hopes of eradicating pests, biotech giant Monsanto introduced genetically modified “Bt corn” equipped with the bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in the late 1990s. Bt produces Bt-toxin, a pesticide that breaks open the stomachs of certain insects and kills them.

Over the past decade, Monsanto’s Bt-toxin has sprouted numerous problems, including the creation of Bt-resistant insects. The new generation of insect larvae attacks the roots of genetically engineered corn. Billions of dollars are at stake in this failure, since Bt corn accounts for 65 percent of corn grown in the United States.

Despite warnings of Bt resistance, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowed the pesticide to be released into the market. Now, a committee of experts is reviewing the situation to find an action plan to stop the spread of resistant insects.

Experts are also warning the EPA to reconsider approving another Monsanto pesticide called SmartStax, which kills rootworms that attack corn crops. SmartStax will create a new version of Bt corn, containing two varieties of Bt genes, which will kill the pests in different ways.

This devastating news is just a small part of an even bigger problem. The emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds due to Roundup Ready crops is also rising rapidly. It was also noted that new organisms capable of instilling disease and infertility in humans, animals and plants have emerged.

Natural Bt-Toxin: It May Be in Your Food

For years, farmers have been using Bt-toxin as a pesticide. Biotech corporations continue to claim that it is safe for agricultural use.

There are two ways the toxin can be transmitted to plants. One way is by spraying it on plants. Here, the toxin biodegrades in sunlight and can be washed off. The other and more hazardous method is through genetically modifying the plant.

If you consume genetically engineered crops, you cannot avoid ingesting the poison. The concentration of Bt-toxin in GE food is much more concentrated compared to sprayed plants.

Peer-reviewed studies revealed the following side effects of Bt-toxin from GE crops:

  • Mice that ingested natural Bt-toxin experienced tissue damage, immune responses, and gained allergic reactions to foods that were formerly harmless. (link)
  • Farm workers who were exposed to the Bt pesticide showed immune reactions. (link)

From these reported effects, the EPA’s Bt Plant-Pesticides Risk and Benefits Assessment, which was formed by the Scientific Advisory Panel, concluded that Bt proteins were potentially antigenic and allergenic.

The Bt-Toxin Nightmare: How It Can Affect Health

Despite Monsanto and the EPA’s claims that genetically engineered corn would only harm insects, there are several studies proving that Bt-toxin affects human health. Last year, doctors from Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec discovered Bt-toxin in the blood of pregnant women, umbilical blood of these women’s babies, and even non-pregnant women.

It was speculated that the Bt-toxin in their blood was obtained from the normal Canadian middle-class diet, since most processed foods and drinks contained GE corn in the form of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It may also have come from meat from livestock that are fed with Bt corn, which are often found in factory farms.

Dr. Joseph Mercola says, “These shocking results raise the frightening possibility that eating Bt corn might actually turn your intestinal flora into a sort of ‘living pesticide factory’… essentially manufacturing Bt-toxin from within your digestive system on a continuing basis.”

This suggests that if the Bt-toxin ruptures the intestines of insects, this effect may also happen in humans. While the biotech industry insists that the toxin does not bind with the intestinal walls of mammals, Bt-toxin was found to bind with the small intestines of mice and with the intestinal tissues of rhesus monkeys.

Problems that may arise from the colonization of your digestive flora by the Bt-toxin are gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and learning disorders. A government-sponsored study in Italy (link) found that Bt corn-fed mice displayed the following immune responses:

  • Elevated IgE and IgG antibodies – Both are linked to allergies and infections
  • Increased levels of cytokines – Associated with allergic and inflammatory reactions
  • Elevated T cells (gamma delta) – Found to be high in people suffering from asthma, children with food allergies, juvenile arthritis, and connective tissue disorders

At the same time, rats that were fed with MON 863 (another type of Monsanto Bt corn) had higher levels of basophils, lymphocytes, and white blood cells. (link) This sudden increase indicated potential infections, allergies, toxins, and certain diseases (including cancer). Liver and kidney toxicity signs were also found.

Be GMO-Free: Avoid the Top Eight GMO Crops on the Market

Two years ago, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) urged physicians to prescribe diets without genetically engineered foods to their patients. They also provided a moratorium stating the side effects of genetically modified organisms (GMO), citing long-term independent studies and labeling. According to them:

“Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. …There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation…

To help you avoid GE foods, you need to know what to avoid. The top eight GE crops in the market are:

  • Soy
  • Corn – Avoid Monsanto’s new GE sweet corn called Seminis, which contains both Bt-toxin and Roundup Ready genes.
  • Cottonseed (found in vegetable oils)
  • Canola and canola oil
  • Sugar from sugar beets
  • Hawaiian papaya
  • Some types of zucchini
  • Crookneck squash

It is important to avoid products with the listed foods as well as their derivatives, unless it has the USDA 100% Certified Organic label.

Dr. Mercola says that the best way to eliminate GE foods from your diet is to purchase whole, certified organic foods, including grass-fed meats. These foods are GMO-free and are not produced with artificial pesticides or fertilizers. Animal products should have been treated without antibiotic use, growth promoters, or other drugs.

For a more comprehensive guide to GMO-free shopping, download the Non-GMO Shopping guide created by the Institute for Responsible Technology.

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