CDC preliminary findings on GE corn - Apr. 30

Chris J. Durden drdn at
Sat May 12 15:03:16 EDT 2001

Toxins - my dictionary (Random House... Unabridged 1966) includes at the 
end of the definition "some are capable of inducing the production of 
antibodies in certain animals. To me this would make BT a toxin for those 
animals or individuals allergic to it as I think I and some rats may be. 
(Now I no longer eat corn tortillas but pay more for spelt tortillas).
    The first part of the dictionary definition was an eye-opener to me! I 
and obviously a lot of other educated people seem to use toxic as a synonym 
for poisonous. The definition states: "any of a group of poisonous, usually 
unstable compounds generated by microorganisms or plants or of animal 
origin. Certain toxins are produced  by specific pathogenic 
microorganisms  and are the causative agents in various diseases, as 
tetanus, diptheria etc.;". This means that most of the references to 
"toxic" waste, "toxic" spills made by the media are a wrong use of the 
word, or that the usage has changed in recent time to include inorganic 
    Perhaps common usage has broadened the definition of the word at the 
same time that technical usage has narrowed it - a real dilemma for 
..................Chris Durden

At 07:32 AM 5/12/2001 -0500, you wrote:
>Hello all . . .
>Quick note on this, since I just got my "A" in toxicology.  Here's the
>quote Dr. Quinn provided:
>"To assess the health effects of this incident, CDC researchers led by Dr.
>Brad S. Winterton interviewed 18 individuals who reported symptoms
>consistent with food allergies after eating corn products--mainly tacos and
>corn chips.
>Of 18 persons interviewed, 12 reported a serious allergic reaction called
>anaphylaxis, which is characterized by low blood pressure and difficult
>breathing. Fourteen reported skin allergy, and nine reported stomach
>To put this in perspective, keep in mind that Bt toxin has NO TARGET SITE
>in humans.  Unlike many chemical alternatives for pest control, including
>'natural botanical' pesticides such as pyrethrins, rotenone, or even
>nicotine, Bt affects a molecular target site unique to insects.  Most
>chemical pesticides, whether botanical or synthetic (or synthetic versions
>of botanicals, which includes most pyrethrins on the market today) affect
>target sites in the nervous system.  These molecules tend to be strongly
>evolutionarily conserved and are found in both insects and vertebrates,
>including humans.
>In contrast, Bt toxins can only have an adverse effect on human health if
>they provoke an immune response--an allergy.  And if we start banning from
>our food all chemicals that provoke allergy, we'll have to start with
>peanuts, cow milk proteins, wheat gluten--the point here is that many very
>common ingredients provoke severe allergic responses in many humans.  None
>of these ingredients are banned.  However, manufacturers are required to
>list ingredients so that those individuals with known allergies can avoid
>products containing the substances that cause an allergic reaction.  How
>many of the Leps-ers are allergic to peanuts, or have a friend who is
>allergic to peanuts?  I have a friend who could easily die if any of his
>food is 'contaminated' with almost any species of nut.  However, this is
>NOT a reason to ban nuts from food, is it?  Could you imagine trying to put
>together a sack lunch for a school child without using wheat gluten, peanut
>butter, or allowing them to have milk with their lunch?
>A little common sense tells us that we cannot and should not ban food
>ingredients that are NON-TOXIC but that may provoke immune responses in
>some individuals.  There would simply be too many items on the banned list.
>I fully support requiring manufacturers to provide information about what
>is in their food product.  But I also fully support public education about
>the definition of 'toxin' and the requirement for a molecular target site
>for a substance to be toxic to humans.  I think an immunological response
>falls into a different category, especially since there are some
>auto-immune diseases, in which the 'toxin' is, for example, a beta islet
>cell in the human pancreas, and the resulting disease is Type I diabetes.
>Let's not ban beta islet cells, though--let's just agree that immune
>response does not define toxicity . . . can we do that?  And if you enjoy
>wheat, peanuts, milk, etc., thank someone with an allergy to those
>substances for not demanding that these chemicals be banned from all food
>products . . .
>In Stride,
>Martha Rosett Lutz
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
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