Genetically modified folks

Critics of transgenic foods argue that consuming genetically modified foodstuffs can damage human health (“The Organic Food Lie,” RN&R, Feb. 13, 2014), a claim that has little scientific support.

Now, a new scientific study argues that humans themselves are genetically modified, and have benefited from the transfers from other species.

The study by five scientists newly published in Genome Biology ( identifies at least 145 genes added to the makeup of humans from other species.

The study reports, “Our analysis probably underestimates the true extent of HGT [horizontal gene transfer] in animals for several reasons,” including a cautious approach to identifying those genes.

The addition of such genes to people have been useful in some cases, such as that of hyaluronic acid, which helps bind cells.