leaky-gutN.L. Swanson

Acknowledgment: Jon Abrahamson helped with data mining for this article.

Could crops that are genetically engineered as pesticide producers be a factor in the explosion of intestinal and immune disorders in the U.S.?

GE engineering for insect resistant (IR) crops

Sections of the DNA from the bacteria known as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are isolated and inserted into the plant cells by a process known as genetic transformation. The entire plant is then regenerated from the transgenic plant cells. There are thousands of different Bt strains that produce proteins toxic to insect pests. Particular strains are chosen to target specific plant pests. The resulting plant contains the Bt toxin in its cells. When the plant is eaten by the target insect the toxin binds to receptors in the insect’s gut, causing the gut wall to break down and allowing toxins and normal gut bacteria to enter the body. As the toxins and bacteria proliferate in the body, the insect dies.

Could it be coincidence that this is the exact description of “Leaky Gut syndrome”?

Leaky Gut syndrome

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, “Leaky gut syndrome is not generally recognized by conventional physicians, but evidence is accumulating that it is a real condition that affects the lining of the intestines. The theory is that leaky gut syndrome (also called increased intestinal permeability), is the result of damage to the intestinal lining, making it less able to protect the internal environment as well as to filter needed nutrients and other biological substances. As a consequence, some bacteria and their toxins, incompletely digested proteins and fats, and waste not normally absorbed may “leak” out of the intestines into the blood stream. This triggers an autoimmune reaction, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal bloating, excessive gas and cramps, fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, skin rashes, and autoimmunity.”

Can Leaky Gut be caused by the Bt crops?

According to the producers of the Bt insecticide crops, the portion of the Bt DNA that is used does not survive the digestive process in humans. This may be true for the bare DNA strands, but the Bt proteins do survive. Aris et al. found these Bt toxins in the blood of pregnant women and their fetuses which they reported in the journal of Reproductive Toxicology (2011). Even so, say the manufacturers, there is no cause to worry because the toxins are selective and only bind to receptors in the insect gut. Humans don’t have these receptors.

According to Dr. Arpad Pusztai, who was involved in the pioneering research on the Bt potato, “There is no [such thing as] absolute selectivity!” Furthermore, he says that the very process of genetic modification causes unknown and uncontrollable mutations in the plant. There is “no means of directing the gene transfer … You are shooting blindfold … genetic insertion causes mutations … You

can’t say where it [the genetic bit] landed … you don’t know how things were reshuffled.” The plant’s own genes are affected and we don’t really know how. Pusztai calls this, “insertional mutagenesis,” mutation of an organism caused by the insertion of DNA into the organism’s preexisting DNA.

Pusztai did an experiment with rats where he fed one group a food mixture that contained the Bt toxin alone and the other group were fed the the same mixture except it contained the Bt potato. The potato mixture contained 800 times less of the Bt toxin. The rats who were fed the Bt toxin alone were fine, as advertised. But the rats who were fed the Bt potato were not. They were smaller, their livers were smaller, but their stomachs and small intestines were larger. The toxin in the potato was different than the toxin alone. Pusztai published his work (Lancet, 1999) and when his employment contract expired it was not renewed.

The intestinal lining of livestock in the U.S. is so poor these days that meat processors import sausage casings from New Zealand. According to Dr. Huber, “When you look at the intestine of those pigs fed the GMO feed, the lining is deteriorated and the critical microbial balance is drastically changed.”

Intestinal disease and Bt corn

The first Bt corn, cotton and potato were approved by the FDA as food crops in 1995. The corn was genetically engineered to be resistant to the European Corn Borer (ECB). Since then there have been numerous approvals for Bt corn, cotton, potato and, in 2010 for soy. In 2002 the FDA approved another Bt corn variety engineered as an insecticide against the corn rootworm. The Bt potato never really took hold, apparently because the fast-food producers refused to buy it.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) maintains the National Hospital Discharge Survey. Records were accessed for discharges with any diagnosis listed for a variety of intestinal ailments from 1990-2010. Dr. Charles Benbrook of the Washington State University published a report showing that pesticide use has increased since the advent of GMOs. He obtained data from the USDA and Monsanto reports to estimate percentages of GE corn and cotton that were planted in Bt varieties.

These data are plotted in the graphs below. The first graph is a plot of hospital discharge diagnoses of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD — Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis) against the number of acres of Bt corn planted (ECB-targeted). The diagnoses for IBD begins rising in 1995 and rises and drops along with the availability of Bt corn with a one year delay (two years around 2007-8). The incidence of IBD also showed a high peak around 1978. In an analysis similar to this one, Qin showed that it was strongly correlated with saccharine consumption at that time.


The second graph depicts the number of hospital discharges listing peritonitis diagnoses plotted against the number of acres of Bt corn planted (ECB). The correlation in time in this graph is not as clear as in the previous, but they are marching along in the same direction at approximately the same time. Perforation of part of the gastrointestinal tract is the most common cause of peritonitis


The third graph shows the the number of diagnoses for chronic constipation plotted against Bt corn planted (ECB and rootworm targeted). Chronic constipation jumped 90% from 2009 to 2010.


The fourth graph is a plot of hospital diagnoses of functional bowel disorder (chronic constipation, irritable bowel and undetermined) against the number of acres of all Bt corn. This graph also seems to track well.


The fifth graph shows the number of deaths due to intestinal infections plotted against the number of acres of all Bt corn planted.


Leaky gut and immune response

If toxins and bacteria are leaking into the abdominal cavity, the body will respond as if it is under attack. In addition, according to Dr. Pusztai, “The body will regard any genetically modified substance coming into the digestive system as foreign [because of its mutated DNA].” The body responds to foreign substances by triggering an immune response. This can be instant, as in an allergic reaction, or it can be a slower, cell-mediated response. Food allergies and immune diseases of all kinds are also soaring. Incidence and prevalence data trends are unavailable because many were rare until recently (fibromyalgia, celiacs disease). Other immune diseases that are on the rise are: asthma, eczema, lupus, Addison’s disease, Grave’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis.

The final graph is a plot of the hospital discharge diagnoses of rheumatoid arthritis along with the number of acres of Bt corn planted. Rheumatoid arthritis is rising slowly, while the number of Bt crops is rising rapidly, but there is a large increase from 2007 to 2010 of rheumatoid arthritis diagnoses. Chronic immune disorders take a long time to develop and there are likely other factors.


Data sources:

Death data: CDC compressed mortality files

Hospital discharge data: CDC; 1991-2001 2006-2010

Bt corn data: Charles Benbrook spreadsheet

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11 Responses to “Intestinal Disease, Immune Disease and GMOs”

  1. mike el, I would check out the company or organization selling it and find out just where it came from. As far as I know, there are only 2 types of corn that cannot be contaminated because of their particular genetic makeup. One is popcorn, and the other is an experiment that a farmer has been doing for years with breeding, cross-breeding, etc., but it is not on the market. So, just about every other type of corn has the potential for contamination. The more savvy the grower, and the more he/she cares about the issue, the more likely they are to test and take precautions to avoid contamination. Corn labeled “organic” is more likely to not have a lot of contamination, but that would depend on the company/farmer. I would not, for instance, trust a farmer that sells both GMO and Organic stuff. The chance of contamination is just too great.

  2. mike el says:

    Ive been eating organic yellow corn grits from the Harvest Co-op in Central Sq. Cambridge Mass. Ive been thinking that this is a non-GMO product since its organic and sold in a health-food store, but now I wonder…. is there any way for it NOT to at least be tainted?

    Is organic corn non-BT? Cuz sometimes on days Ive eaten it I feel a moment or two of abdominal bloating which could just be from bad food combining but whats the word on this product?

  3. abinico warez says:

    Every human civilization era has a time bomb that brings it to an end. The Roman era ended because of crazed leaders that drank lead contaminated wine from lead cups. The current era has GMO food. And GMO food will certainly in the long run destroy the current era.

  4. ter ber says:

    Excellent article Ms. Peterson. Anyone on face book please post far and wide. The graphs are shocking. It is obvious to us that “they” think we are not dying fast enough. Speaking of depopulation projects, I work in a large senior housing. Care center, assisted living, & senior apts. The new thing now with big pharma is having Dr’s prescribe Alzheimer medicine as a preventive measure. For seniors who are slowing down, but who do not have full on dementia. Of course their adult children are not questioning it. The number one side effect is diarrhea. So that with the gmo meals, well you can imagine. Also when I started this job in 1996, an employee pulled me aside and said watch when they start the seasonal flu vaccines during the fall, the death rate doubles in the following months. Also I must fill out a form when I decline the flu shot, which is submitted to our state health dept. Lovely.

  5. Jumping Ship says:

    “..even though your wet around the ankles, and enclosing on the knees, and the Capt. says were not sinking, one needs to think for ones self.”

    Thank You Abe.

  6. alex says:

    ….Nobody wants to ‘Grok’ the glaring ‘in-yer-face’ existential evidence of a deliberately orchestrated “CULL” of the human population by the 0.01% Capstone Pyramid Club of the NWO…who’s cravenly mentally ill & insidiously demonic royal bloodlines… comprised of generational Old Black $$$(sic)nobility… as really reptilian psychopaths, shadowing the insanely bizarre machinations of the’Snakes in Suits’… ‘musical-chair’ Zionist/Jesuit/Ashke’Nazi’s & Gangster-Bankster’s now in every corpto/ fascistic/ hegemonic boardroom across the planet …generated from WII’s I.G.Farben/Krupp chemical war munition factories… which of course morphed into Dow Baxter/Bayer DuPont Mon$atan etc etc etc…suffice to say that cancer was at a ratio of 1 in 54 approx(60 yrs. ago)….now since the mandated application of the chemical onslaught on our food over the last 60 yrs it’s 1 in 4…Now do you get the BIG picture!?!

  7. Hi Daschsie,

    I have a serious problem with GMO. You can read about it here: http://farmwars.info/?p=6920. I had to get rid of GMOs from my diet. I am now symptom-free. Here is a site to go to and find out what is being genetically engineered and what is not: http://gmo-compass.org. In the left-hand column, there is a place to type in a food to find out if it has been tampered with and where in the process of approval it is. Anything with soy, corn, canola, sugar – unless it is designated pure cane – is GMO, unless it has a non-GMO sticker on it (there will still be up to .9% contamination allowed), or is 100% organic from a trusted source. I like local sources, but you have to talk with the people to find out if they are really organic or just pretend. Most of the flavorings, added vitamin B and C, and stuff you can’t pronounce are GMO, so packaged food is not on my list. I get oatmeal from Bob’s Red Mill, who states non-GMO, and make my own cereal – granola and such with raisins and honey, with a little bit of wheat flour and baking soda. I called the local honey people and they told me where their bees roam and that the alfalfa fields are not GMO. Corn starch and Baking Powder are out unless the Baking Powder doesn’t have corn starch in it. There are a lot of hidden places where GMOs lurk, even in certified “Organic.” I eat a lot of veggies and fruit, milk my own goats, and make cheese with apple cider vinegar. That’s another thing. You have to get the real apple cider vinegar or it’s most likely GMO. This is a very serious thing for those of us who have drastic reactions to the stuff. If you have any questions, or if I can help with more information, don’t hesitate to contact me. You can eat non-GMO without breaking the bank, but you have to do the research and read the labels.

  8. Dachsie says:

    Very helpful and interesting article. I have leaky gut and several, I guess relatively minor, autoimmune conditions. I had to have my gallbladder removed on an emergency basis last year and I told all the GI doctors I had leaky gut syndrome and they all acted like they had no idea what I was talking about.

    I have had chroic iritis and uveitis in both eyes for 14 years and have had to take steroid eye drops to keep the flareups down. The doctors have no idea how I could have developed this condition and have never even broached the subject with me. All of the tests they did did not identify any particular “marker” to indicate what might be the kind of autoimmune problem it is.

    I wish I knew what exactly what be a completely safe diet and how to avoid all GMO foods. I know I need to stay away from canned and boxed processed foods and artificial food colors. I even have a leaky gut (hives) response to annator which is a natural yellow food dye used in cheeses.

    I am eating a more natural diet now and only have rare flareups of my leaky gut which manifests as about 2 hour serious hives (urticaria) all over my body. I think my gut is healing but I just have to do a better job of staying away from GMO.

    Would like to know if non GMO exists and can be purchased for eating.

  9. Ronnie Harding says:

    I would like for someone to produce a paper with their goals written. Like we expect GM food to take affect and by 2015 20% of the people in the USA will be dead and 50 sterility. Then when you read they openly killed 100 million Eastern Europeans and you have to start to wonder maybe all that came out of WWII must be a lie, because it has to be the same ones that committed those atrocities in Europe must be the same ones planning our fate here, because many millions of them came here. Then it starts to get real creepy and you start imagine being loaded into trucks and taken to a remote location and shot in the back of the head. They did it to hundreds of millions. If you figure all the countries from East Germany to China there is no way to know the true number.

  10. Ronnie Harding says:

    IN the past certain people when they wanted to overthrow the Russian government they went to New York and were given 15 million and this was in 1917. Two hundred twenty seven of their cabal went to Russia and in a few weeks overthrew the government. Then killed tens of millions of people. We’re in more dire straights than the Russians ever were, because they only killed a few million, but now their talking billions and so now it’s kind of getting serious.

  11. Abe says:

    Here’s a one page hand out done by the Institute for Responsible Technology using the data from Dr. Swansons paper. Feel free to copy and send far and wide.

    Barb thanks for your hard work getting this out!
    We’re all in tha same boat, and even though your wet around the ankles, and enclosing on the knees, and the Capt. says were not sinking, one needs to think for ones self.