Researchers have been working to create GMO rice that contains human blood protein chemically identical to human serum albumin, the most abundant protein found in human blood plasma. At Wuhan University, National Research Council of Canada and the Center for Functional Genomics at the University at Albany, colleagues inserted the gene encoding HSA into their rice plants in such a way that the gene was activated during seed production, and the resulting protein was stored in the rice grain.
This protein is normally obtained by extracting it from blood donors. It is then used to treat patients with burns and liver disease, but blood donors can now be bypassed with a GMO synthetic version.
In rats with liver disease, both types of HSA proved equally effective in relieving symptoms associated with cirrhosis. And rats that were given rice-derived HSA showed no stronger immune reaction than animals that had been given the plasma-derived version.
Testing of the rice-derived HSA in humans is expected to take place within the next two years as researchers have submitted the first clinical-trial application to the US Food and Drug Administration. More research is needed to evaluate the safety of the rice-derived protein in animals and humans before it can be considered for the market.
In addition to the possible medical risks involved, there are also general concerns about GMO crops. One environmental and food contamination concern is the accidental cross pollination with non GMO crops resulting in possible food supply contamination. Once it’s placed into our food chain, it’s there for good. Public awareness through labeling is another concern as genetically modified foods currently do not have to be labeled in the United States.
Title: Human blood protein placed in GMO rice
Author: Irene North
Publication: The Daily Censored
Date of Publication: Nov 6, 2011
Author: Irene North
Student Researcher: David Smith, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University