Risks of Edible Transgenic Vaccines
By Prof. Joe Cummins, Isis.org
Early tests of a hepatitis B vaccine in potato were hampered by the low levels of antigen produced in the plant, and by the safety requirement that only individuals previously immunized with injected vaccine should be exposed to the plant vaccine. The main safety concern is that the oral vaccine preparations will induce “immune tolerance”, thereby making the individual susceptible to the hepatitis B virus.
Oral tolerance is a fundamental biological response to ingested antigens, so that it is possible to eat proteins that would produce an immune response if injected. These difficulties appear to have cooled the fervour of clinical investigators and pharmaceutical companies. Though earlier, a vaccine for pig gastroenteritis produced in transgenic corn was claimed to be effective and ready for commercial release by 2003.
The two main concerns over transgenic vaccines are the contamination of food crops through cross pollination and of the vaccine itself in plant debris spreading as dust and as pollutants in surface and groundwater. The vaccine antigen may affect browsing animals and humans living in the area drinking vaccine-polluted water or breathing vaccine-polluted dust. The problem of inducing oral tolerance has already been pointed out above.
There is another kind of immune tolerance that could be acquired during embryogenesis. Burnet and Medawar found that the immune system established the difference between ‘self’ and ‘non-self’ molecules in the developing embryo. Exposing the embryo to vaccine will cause the newborn to be tolerant to the vaccine and thus to regard both the vaccine and the infecting pathogen as ‘self’. Individuals born in the vaccine-polluted area may well not be able to produce antibodies to the vaccine antigen, and thus to lack protection against infection by the pathogen.
A number of transgenic plant vaccines currently being developed will be discussed. Cholera toxin gene was introduced into the chloroplast genome of the tobacco, the construction was geared towards high levels of vaccine-antigen production The chloroplast construction allowed 410 times higher antigen production than nuclear gene inserts.
Edible cholera B vaccines were produced in transgenic tomato. And an antigen gene from the malaria parasite in transgenic tobacco has been proposed as a malaria vaccine.
Mice fed transgenic alfalfa with a gene for an antigen to foot and mouse virus were found to produce antibodies against the foot and mouth virus. That study bears careful scrutiny because alfalfa pollen is known to spread to adjacent crops, and pregnant cows and sheep fed on the vaccine crop may give birth to offspring tolerant to the virus.
Transgenic tobacco was modified to produce vaccines against hepatitis B virus and cytomegalovirus. Virus-like particles were produced and concentrated in the tobacco seeds. However, the modified seeds did not provoke an immune response to hepatitis B and cytomegalovirus in mouse. Instead, a strong response to tobacco seed proteins was observed. This unexpected result ought to serve as warning of the unpredictable risks inherent to the transgenic process.
A transgenic potato was loaded with genes for cholera, E.coli antigens and rotavirus enterotoxin, and adult mice were found to produce antibodies to the toxins after feeding on the transgenic potatoes.
The alfalfa mosaic virus was used to produce rabies vaccine in spinach and tobacco. The experiments progressed to having people eat spinach leaves (salad) containing the vaccine. Such vaccines with recombinant viral vectors should have been handled with very great care to prevent the viral vector from recombining and spreading to infect crops in the field.
The rabies vaccination may be important for wild animals and humans, but problems associated with oral tolerance or exposure of children in the womb should be addressed before these vaccines are released to the environment, as the release could actually increase the spread of rabies.
If vaccines play absolutely no role in the development of childhood autism, a claim made by many medical authorities today, then why are some of the most popular vaccines commonly administered to children demonstrably causing autism in animal primates? This is the question many people are now asking after a recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh (UP) in Pennsylvania revealed that many of the infant monkeys given standard doses of childhood vaccines as part of the new research developed autism symptoms
For their analysis, Laura Hewitson and her colleagues at UP conducted the type of proper safety research on typical childhood vaccination schedules that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should have conducted — but never has — for such regimens. And what this brave team discovered was groundbreaking, as it completely deconstructs the mainstream myth that vaccines are safe and pose no risk of autism.
Presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in London, England, the findings revealed that young macaque monkeys given the typical CDC-recommended vaccination schedule from the 1990s, and in appropriate doses for the monkeys’ sizes and ages, tended to develop autism symptoms. Their unvaccinated counterparts, on the other hand, developed no such symptoms, which points to a strong connection between vaccines and autism spectrum disorders.
Included in the mix were several vaccines containing the toxic additive Thimerosal, a mercury-based compound that has been phased out of some vaccines, but is still present in batch-size influenza vaccines and a few others. Also administered was the controversial measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which has been linked time and time again to causing autism and various other serious, and often irreversible, health problems in children
“This research underscores the critical need for more investigation into immunizations, mercury, and the alterations seen in autistic children,” said Lyn Redwood, director of SafeMinds, a public safety group working to expose the truth about vaccines and autism. “SafeMinds calls for large scale, unbiased studies that look at autism medical conditions and the effects of vaccines given as a regimen.”
Adding to the sentiment, Theresa Wrangham, president of SafeMinds called out the CDC for failing to require proper safety studies of its recommended vaccination schedules. Unlike all other drugs, which must at least undergo a basic round of safety testing prior to approval and recommendation, vaccinations and vaccine schedules in particular do not have to be proven safe or effective before hitting the market.
“The full implications of this primate study await publication of the research in a scientific journal,” said Wrangham. “But we can say that it demonstrates how the CDC evaded their responsibility to investigate vaccine safety questions. Vaccine safety oversight should be removed from the CDC and given to an independent agency.”
THE estranged parents of a five-year-old boy have gone to court over whether the child should have vaccination shots.
The mother does not want him to have the MMR (which protects against measles, mumps and rubella) and 4-in-1 (diphtheria, whooping cough, polio and tetanus) booster shots – while the father does.
Mr Justice Moriarty has already heard evidence from the mother, who does not want her son to have the vaccinations, and the father, who wants the injections to be given as speedily as possible.
The case comes weeks ahead of a challenge to the outcome of the children’s rights referendum, whose main flashpoint was the test for the amount of state intervention in decisions affecting children.
The courts routinely allow hospitals to provide blood transfusions and life-saving treatment to children contrary to the religious beliefs of their parents, such as those of the Jehovah’s Witness faith.
In this case, the parents hold opposing positions.
The District Court and Circuit Court have already ruled that the inoculations should proceed.
The case was before the High Court as a result of a legal challenge mounted by the mother.
Mr Justice Moriarty said after the child was born in 2007, he was immunised without dispute and no adverse reactions were reported.
The parents’ relationship later broke down.
In February, the child was due to receive the two injections provided for under the HSE programme to children.
The mother had concerns about the substances included in the injections.
An impasse was reached and the District Court ruled that it was in the best interests of the child that the injections go ahead, Mr Justice Moriarty said.
The mother appealed the matter to the Circuit Court where the judge decided the injections were in the child’s best interests.
On the day the vaccination was to be administered, the mother applied to the High Court to be allowed legally challenge the decision.
Mr Justice Moriarty said the father, in evidence, had indicated although he felt strongly his son should have the injections, he would accept a verdict contrary to his wishes without seeking to take matters further.
The judge said he could not “simply furnish some form of snap judgment in favour of or against the injections. I am acutely conscious of the delay factor, and can only give my best assurance to the parties that I will do all possible on my part to expedite a just conclusion”.