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Is Roundup injected into the corn seed?

Roundup questions is Roundup injected into the corn seed? If Roundup ready corn is consumed, can roundup be detected in the human body shortly after consumption? What genetics were put into GM corn, and what do they do?

Submitted by: Flyboy


Expert response from Community Manager

Friday, 03/04/2015 13:21

Is Roundup® injected into the corn seed?  No.  Despite all the memes showing needles injecting unknown substances into genetically engineered (GE) crops, that is not how it works.  In fact, injecting glyphosate or other herbicides into the corn seed would not help control weeds.  Roundup agricultural herbicides are sprayed on the weeds in the field to prevent them from competing with crops for the water, sunlight and soil nutrients needed to grow.  The weeds will die, while the Roundup Ready crop will survive and thrive.  


If Roundup Ready® Corn is consumed, can roundup be detected in the human body shortly after consumption?  Application of Roundup brand herbicides sometimes results in a small amount of glyphosate residues in crops and commodities intended for human and animal use.  Regulatory agencies, particularly the U.S. EPA, take the potential for consumption of such residues into consideration. Regulatory agencies establish the maximum level of residues allowed in food and feed as well as the allowable daily intake of those residues.  Most glyphosate that is consumed just passes through the digestive tract unabsorbed.  The fraction that is absorbed is rapidly eliminated from the body and does not accumulate in our body; more detail is discussed by my colleague Dan Goldstein in his GMO Answers response on the topic.       


What genetics were put into GM corn, and what do they do? The type of genes that are added to genetically modified corn generally fall under three categories: herbicide tolerance, insect protection and finally drought stress protection.  They can also be enzymes that regulate specific metabolic pathways, like herbicide tolerance or a functional protein, like the Bt proteins.


Here is more detail on Roundup Ready crops, which are tolerant to glyphosate:  Glyphosate specifically inhibits an enzyme, EPSPS (most growing plants produce this protein) that is essential to plant growth; this enzyme is not found in humans or animals.  When sprayed with Roundup agricultural herbicides - or any herbicide that contains glyphosate as the active ingredient- these plants will not synthesize certain aromatic amino acids required for growth.  The end result is that these plants will die and thus not compete for the resources on a farmer’s field with crops. Scientists were able to find a form of the gene naturally occurring in a bacterium which was fully functional to make the amino acids but it was not inhibited by glyphosate.  This particular gene was introduced into the genome of the Roundup Ready crops to make them tolerant to glyphosate.  So even though the native form of the crop’s enzyme is inhibited when sprayed with glyphosate, the introduced gene allows the amino acids to be synthesized and the plant is not affected by Roundup agricultural herbicides.  Here is a link to a technical publication that explains all the details.