Swine Flu Genes To Be Inserted In Corn, Making Vaccine Foods For Hogs & Humans

pigs tail photo

Pig tail curl. Image credit:MatronOfHusbandry blog, "You got a good scald on that."

Iowa State University researchers are reported to be planning experimental insertion of 'swine flu vaccines' into the genetic makeup of corn. The idea is to allow pigs and humans to get a flu vaccination "simply by eating corn or corn products." So many questions come to mind about potential unintended consequences. It would be interesting to see whatever ethics or social responsibility evaluations of the proposed work may have been sent to the school's Plant Sciences Institute.

Lets suppose this research eventually demonstrates that the modified corn, when processed into a food, effectively creates human immunity to swine flu, and that the disease will not rapidly mutate (a questionable assumption). Given the track record at FDA, would Americans trust the Agency to evaluate the medical and environmental risks of selling such medically potent foods? Read on for quotes, and for more questions.The environmental question: Would waste water from food processing equipment cleanup carry the swine flu associated proteins into sewers and streams? How would it not do that? is the better question.

Can you imagine Frito-Lay considering whether to roll out a product line with swine flu-immunizing corn as major ingredient? I can't.

Would the food only be dispensed by human/veterinary clinics or by ordinary retail means? 'Skip the needle and make mine Swine Chips, will ya, Nurse? ' If sold as a conrolled substance, who processes the food? If it were a food company, wouldn't there be a risk of "crossover" in the processing equipment?

How would Muslims react to such products? Self answering question. No multi-national food company with a lick of sense would touch this hogger.

Would the American Medical Association endorse, or oppose, a prospective FDA approval of over-the-counter sale of immunity-conferring corn-based food? I'm guessing oppose.

Corn allergy is widespread and common. What economic incentive remains, if this idea goes commercial, for vaccine makers to produce injectable, non-corn based, swine flu vaccines for corn allergic individuals?

From Meat & Poultry, The Business Journal For Meat & Poultry Processors. "Humans, hogs may eat their way to flu resistance."

If the research goes well, the corn vaccine may be possible in five to seven years. In the meantime, the team is trying to expedite the process. "While we're waiting for Wang to produce the corn, we are starting initial experiments in mice to show that the vaccine might induce an immune response," Mr. Bosworth said.

Mr. Harris said the team still needs more answers. "The big question is whether or not these genes will work when given orally through corn," he added. "That is the thing we've still got to determine."

Stability and safety are several advantages to the corn vaccine. Once the corn with the vaccine is grown, it can be stored for long-term without losing its potency, researchers claim. If a swine flu virus breaks out, the corn could be shipped to the location to try to vaccinate animals and humans in the area quickly. Because corn grain is used as food and feed, there is no need for extensive vaccine purification, which can be an expensive process.

It might go over big in China, given that nation's recent history of managing food safety and strong interest in GM agriculture.

Update. I considered and rejected the possibilities that: this was a either a hoax; a joke taken seriously; or, a way to prevent the hog industry from developing a reputation as public health threat but which spilled over into human health protection as a matter of 'mission creep.'

More posts on genetically modified corn.
Germany Bans Planting of Monsanto GM Corn
Saying No To Genetically Modified Foods In Japan
Food Shortage Pulls Genetically Modified Grains Into Formerly ...
Monsanto "Seedless" Corn Sold To South African Farmers.