Thursday, October 18, 2007

L-tryptophan tragedy 1980's

In 1989, a variety of persons around the world became very sick with severe muscle pain and high white blood counts (eosinophiles). Some people died but the exact number of people affected was never certain. At the time no one knew exactly what the disease was or how it spread. Eventually it was traced to L-tryptophan supplements. It was called eosinophilia myalgia syndrome. Contamination of the supplement was traced to one manufacturing company. I remember reading about it but I never saw anything written that discussed the fact that L-tryptophan was being genetically engineered. It was traced to a company that had genetically engineered the bacteria to produce greater amounts of L-tryptophan. In "Seeds of Deception," Jefferey Smith devotes a chapter to this tragedy.

One cannot help but wonder if the contamination of powdered infant formula with e.sakazakii is related to the genetic engineering of L-glutamic acid or other amino acids. I read another patent owned by Archer Daniels Midland Co. called "Production of tryptophan by microorganisms" patent # 5939295 filed in 1996 in which the suggested mutated microbes included enterbacter. How do we know if the production of L-glutamic acid or L-tryptophan through mutated bacteria is safe? Safe for adults? Safe for children? Safe for infants? Save for preterm infants? Many of the specialty formulas are used on preterm infants. For instance Neocate is an amino acid based formula. If all your amino acids are genetically engineered, what bacterias are being used in production. Is it possible that the mix of these amino acids might in some cases produce a more potent bacteria, resistant to antibiotics? How do we know they are stable? How do we know that the gut doesn't absorb them? Where are the studies? Are we presuming the safety of these components without testing? We are certainly presuming that the consumer or should I say the buyer of the product should remain clueless to the contents.

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