Home > Proposed Benefits of GM Foods > Fighting Cholera With GM Foods

Fighting Cholera With GM Foods

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 31 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Gm Genetically Modified Foods Cholera

Genetically modified (GM) foods are usually just foods we consume that were modified to grow in a more robust, sustainable fashion. However, research is now looking at ways that GM foods can actually fight health conditions such as cholera.

Infectious Diseases

Cholera is an infectious disease caused by a microbe that travels from the host to water and then continues to infect people. It occurs more rampantly in Africa and India although still occurs around the world. It can also persist in water and food, making it readily available to infect more individuals.

Although there are vaccines, these provide minimal protection that isn't sustained and they also have sensitive storage requirements. Now, research is paving the way for GM rice that functions similarly to a vaccine and can also remain viable for well over a year when kept at room temperature.

Performing the Experiment

So, how did they create this new strain of GM rice? Researchers began by putting the genetic material from the microbe that produces the cholera toxin in rice. It may seem unusual that genetic material was used from a harmful organism but this is the mechanism of how vaccines work. Researchers are selective in the genes used. They also sequenced the genome of the rice prior to inserting the microbe genes.

Immune Protection Against Cholera

Once the rice produced the toxin, researchers fed these grains to mice to analyse what happened next. The mice ended up being immune to the cholera causing bacteria, which was exactly as the scientists had hoped and anticipated would happen.

A Unique Storage and Delivery System

The rice basically acted as a delivery and storage tool for delivering the vaccine. It's also a very simple and non-invasive system as well. Since it doesn't need needles or refrigeration, it has many advantages over traditional kinds of vaccines.

It induces immunity against the bacteria and can thus prevent the hundreds of thousands of gastrointestinal problems suffered from people around the world. The disadvantage is that it would require regular 'boosts' to maintain effectiveness.

The rice would also need stringent monitoring in terms of its growing conditions, which would ensure that the vaccine is properly produced. Another issue is that the grains themselves will have different levels of the vaccine, so ultimately the vaccine would need to be taken in some kind of an oral – likely pill – form.

GM Foods Issues

One of the key issues in GM food technology has been the problem of contamination. When GM foods are grown, plants in other farms can become contaminated as the wind scatters the pollen of the plants. However, rice plants don't typically scatter pollen quite as much as other GM crops. This means that they are less likely to contaminate other crops, allowing for much better control of their production and use.

Future Vaccines

Researchers are also excited about the idea of creating GM vaccines for other health illnesses. They don't think that vaccines need to stop at cholera – instead, vaccines could be created for the flu or many other viruses.

There is still significant work to be done in terms of the research but it's looking quite promising for creating GM foods to act as vaccines. Still, the debate on GM foods will continue and we do need to ensure that if this technology becomes widely available, it is safe and thoroughly tested.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • capitalistic bastard
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    If god is real then he would accept all his children. Including the lizard people and the angry demimgod Xenu. And I think he would…
    27 April 2017
  • dunno
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    Okay seriously calm down for one we don't know if god is real or not because we don't have solid proof except for "man's" word and we…
    25 April 2017
  • dragonhunter
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    i think that they can help alot.
    24 April 2017
  • Communist66642069
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    Why is everyone ignoring the fact that regarldess of the GMOs There are alien lizards ruling our governmentthey are the only god in…
    4 April 2017
  • fc222 IS WRONG
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    Attention. I have made another mistake. I assure that this will not happen again, and I thank you for your understanding. The previous…
    31 March 2017
  • poopy
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    this is a very cool they i love it its amazing
    30 March 2017
  • feministchristian222
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    This is the nickname I meant to set in my previous statement. I apear to have made a mistake, which will not happen again
    29 March 2017
  • feministchristian222
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    In this essay, I aim to explain why feministchristian222 has lied to you all. My first point is that God is decisively not real. After…
    29 March 2017
  • Heavenlord666
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    I agree with feminist christian. My son is now gay.
    29 March 2017
  • feministchristian222
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    gm crops are against the bibles rules. we should never mess with the eternal one's plan for us. if he says that normal rice should make…
    29 March 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the GeneticallyModifiedFoods website. Please read our Disclaimer.