2012-07-20

Co.Exist

Genetically Modified Food May Be Why You're Fat

If you feed a rat a lot of modified corn, guess what happens? It gets a lot bigger than the rats that just eat regular corn. Do you want to be that fat rat?

The jury is still out on whether genetically modified food is dangerous--though the genetic engineers discussed in this post make a pretty compelling case for its shortcomings. A new study suggests that even if GM food isn’t directly making us sick, it might be causing us to gain weight. Which then makes you sick. So, by the transitive property …

The study, carried out by researchers from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science and elsewhere, examined how rats and salmon respond to GM food. As part of the study, rats were fed GM corn (genetically modified for pest resistance). The rats slowly got fatter than those who hadn’t been fed GM corn over a 90-day period. They also ate more and grew faster. When rats were fed fish that had eaten GM corn, they were hit with the same effects.

In another part of the study, researchers fed GM food to salmon and compared them to salmon that ate non-GM food. The result: the GM food-gobbling salmon got bigger, ate more, developed a different intestinal microstructure, lost some of their protein-digesting ability, and ended up with immune system changes.

The GM food didn’t spur any other health problems for the rats or fish, but the study is nonetheless troubling. “If the same effect applies to humans, how would it impact people eating this type of corn over a number of years, or even eating meat from animals feeding on this corn?” wondered Professor Åshild Krogdahl of the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science in an interview with ScienceNordic. "I don’t wish to sound alarmist, but it is an interesting phenomenon and worth exploring further.”

Not all GM food is created equal; some products attempt to correct nutritional deficiencies, potentially helping people steer clear of obesity. But our larger GM food experiment--the one where we all ingest GM food every day without thinking about it--is still young. But we’ll find out the results soon enough.

Add New Comment

3 Comments

  • Demostheness

    "They also ate more and grew faster."

    If they ate more GM corn than the rats eating regular corn, wouldn't that be a strong contributor to weight gain?

  • jpatti

    Of course.  But if the corn itself makes you eat more of it, then the corn is causing the weight gain.

    Imagine you are in charge of making and selling Fritos.  

    You can make them out of normal corn, which people will eat reasonably, or you can make them out of GMO corn, which makes people overeat them.  

    Which type of corn is going to increase your profits more?