Last fall, a bizarre but interesting paper was published in Nature Cell Research:
Exogenous plant MIR168a specifically targets mammalian LDLRAP1: evidence of cross-kingdom regulation by microRNA
(subsequent correction after they duplicated images in their figures LOL!!!! Nature/Science, you so crazy!)
What they suggest, is that when humans eat Oryza sativa (Asian rice), a microRNA highly expressed in that rice is secreted into vesicles during digestion, which are absorbed into the human bloodstream, and taken up by liver cells, where the rice microRNA can then have a physiological effect on human LDL levels.
Well thats neato… If it turns out to be true. Preliminary potentially neat stuff… But physiologically, it seems unlikely. Its one thing to protect a virus or a bacteria through digestion, its another to protect RNA or even a vesicle of RNA though the digestive process, then get it into cells in another part of the body at levels that result in a phenotype. And its almost certainly not a co-evolution thing– more like a ‘random side-effect’ thing, especially since it looks like the rice microRNA *inhibits* uptake of LDL, which seems like a bad thing.
So, naturally, a
random weirdo ‘journalist’ decided that this potentially neat, probably an artifact preliminary data was a sign of the end times and wrote about it for The Atlantic. Im not talking about fire and brimstone and archangels with flaming swords. Im talking about something much more serious here, people.
Ari LeVaux is convinced that us Evil Humans tinikering with plant DNA will lead to “cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes” and “new DNA can have dangerous implications far beyond the products it codes for”. Now, LeVaux doesnt have any, you know, *scientific evidence to suggest that might be, in any way, true*. Hes just pulling shit out of his ass, and considering he is a proponent of raw milk, thats probably a LOT of shit, thanks to E. coli. Thankfully, in a guest post at BioFortified, Emily Willingham put a big ol diaper on LeVauxs leaking orifice:
If you want a laugh, Ari is responding to Emily in the comment section of his article, and surprise of all surprises, he is a total douche bag, just as proud of his scientific ignorance as any Creationist Ive seen. Dude even says on Twitter regarding a post that ‘thinks he has a point': “Poor dear, she’s likely about to get lynched by nerds.” LOL, NERDS! With their SCIENCE and hoity toity BOOK LEARNIN! NEEEEEERD!!
While it *is* fun laughing at twats like Ari, Im actually going to finish this post by taking the research and putting a different spin on it. If this paper is valid, then yes, GMO organisms could be used to introduce microRNA into humans, and THAT IS AWESOME!!! Brand new therapeutic avenue to explore! What kinds of microRNAs could we introduce into rice, or corn, or lettuce, to generate novel therapeutics for “cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes”? This would be great for liver cancer, kidney cancer, maybe some brain diseases, depending on how the microRNA vesicles do at crossing the Blood Brain Barrier. Imagine if treating cancer turned into ‘Eat this bowl of rice’ instead of ‘This chemotherapy is going to make you look and feel like shit’. And what about novel therapies for viral diseases? We *really* need some help with Hepatitis C. Could a microRNA introduced into GMO plants help us cure this disease?
So Ari can keep sucking down his raw milk while simultaneously worrying about actually safe foods making him sick, manipulating science to scare people into supporting his political agenda, but us scientists are going to keep using the *actual* implications of that science to save the planet.