Letter: EPA and soybeans

April 22, 2014 

The Environmental Protection Agency was soliciting public comment on an exemption of the requirement for monitoring the "toxin protein tolerance" in humans for the biopesticide, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin, produced in genetically engineered (GE) soybeans.

My comment to EPA: The EPA needs to closely look at recent scientific findings related to animal feeding studies for Bt-corn. High levels of Bt-toxin residues were found throughout the gastro-intestinal tracts. Biochemical analysis showed that active complex forms of the BT toxin had an allergenic property and were resistant to heat and digestive enzymes. Furthermore, partially digested toxin fragments still caused leakage in human red blood cells.

The Bt-toxin proteins produced by GE plants are not the same as the purified versions used for toxicity studies by agrichemical companies. Toxins purified from the Bt bacteria degrade quickly in stomach enzymes while those produced by Bt-corn took almost four hours. The exemption assumes the bio-pesticide is safe, based on the old safety studies and needs no regulation. However, it is imperative to study the toxin levels in the human GI tract from eating the Bt-soybeans or their products and determine the effects on human health before proceeding to such an exemption.

TOYOKO TSUKUDA, Richland

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