Scientists at Rutgers University are artificially adding a bacterial gene to genetically modified corn to force the plant to produce a nutrient called methionine to boost its nutritional value. While this sounds great on the surface, the safety and long-term effects of genetically modified corn have never been studied, so “boosting” its nutritional value may be just like adding vitamins to poison.

According to Natural Therapy Pages, methionine is one of the 22 amino acids used by the body to synthesize proteins. It is a vital amino acid that cannot be produced by the body and must be ingested through diet. It is essential for certain liver functions, as well as normal metabolism and growth.

Since methionine does not occur naturally in corn, billions of dollars are spent on adding it to field corn seed each year. According to Professor Joachim Messing, who directs the Waksman Institute of Microbiology, this is a costly and high energy process, but is necessary because animals simply won’t grow without methionine. Adding it to corn for human consumption supposedly benefits children as it contributes to healthy growth. 

The Rutgers research team added an E. coli bacterial gene to the corn’s genome, and after several generations of growth, they found that doing so increased methionine levels in the plant’s leaves by 57 percent.

“We improved the nutritional value of corn, the largest commodity crop grown on Earth,” said Thomas Leustek, study co-author and professor in the Department of Plant Biology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. He added that this would be of great benefit to subsistence farmers who rely on corn production to feed their families. “Our study shows that they wouldn’t have to purchase methionine supplements or expensive foods that have higher methionine.”

Benefits like these look wonderful on the surface, but dig a little deeper and serious concerns arise about genetically modified corn.

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