As you may remember, my youngest sister, Maggie, is guest blogging in a four-part series, providing us all with information around the controversial subject of genetically modified organisms. Throughout Part Two of her series, Maggie provided a list of products that are made using ingredients that have been genetically modified. In addition, she explained the differences in GMO labeling depending upon a consumer’s geographic location. This week, Maggie’s post details the detriments of genetically modified organisms to human health and well-being. After you read this guest blog post, please use the comments section to share your opinions about the human health concerns surrounding the consumption of genetically modified organisms.
Guest Blogger Series “GMOs Revealed” – Part Three
There are many studies that prove that GMOs are potentially harmful to human health (GMO Education). Although the FDA ruled in 1992 that “genetically engineered foods present no different risks than traditional foods,” the organization’s own scientists have said, “There is a profound difference between the types of unexpected effects from traditional breeding and genetic engineering. This difference should be and is not addressed” (GE Food). Five main health concerns about GMOs include: toxicity, allergic reactions, antibiotic resistance, immunosuppression, and loss of nutrition (GE Food).
When the gene of one organism is inserted into another, there is no way of knowing where the gene is being inserted (GE Food). Scientists do not know the genetic makeup of the organism receiving the genes either, and therefore cannot come up with a safe place to insert the gene (GE Food). The insertions are very random (GE Food). Because of this, a nontoxic element in a food could potentially become toxic (GE Food). FDA scientists warned that there was definitely a possibility of dangerous toxins appearing in food due to genetic modification and health risks that come with them (GE Food).
There are two main concerns with regard to allergic reactions and GMOs (GE Food). One is the fact that genetic modification can take an allergen from one food and put it into another (GE Food). The New England Journal of Medicine put out a study that showed people who ate soybeans that had been inserted with Brazil nut genes having serious allergic reactions (GE Food). Without labels on GM products, consumers with allergies cannot avoid food with their allergen (GE Food). The second concern is that GMOs could be creating new food allergies because of the new proteins that are a result of genetic modification (GE Food). These proteins have not been in human diets before and could cause allergic reactions (GE Food). Also, GM soy, corn, and papaya fail allergy tests (GMO Education). This is because the proteins in the GMO contain known allergens (GMO Education).
GMOs could also make some antibiotics useless to humans and animals (GE Food). Most all GMOs contain something that is called “antibiotic resistance markers” that are used for the producers of the GMO to find out if the gene actually made it into the host (GE Food). These “antibiotic resistance markers” could make antibiotics useless (GE Food). For example, the Novartis company inserted a corn plant with an ampicillin resistant gene (GE Food). Ampicillin is an antibiotic that is used to treat many human and animal infections (GE Food). Concerns lie in the gene from the corn moving into bacteria and therefore making the antibiotic far less effective (GE Food).
A study conducted by Drs. Arpad Pusztai and Stanley W.B. Ewen showed lab rats fed genetically modified potatoes resulted in poor effects on their organ development, body metabolism, and immune function (GE Food). The potatoes had been modified to contain Bacillus Thuringiensis, a biopesticide (GE Food).
There are also concerns that genetically modification could lower the nutritional value of different foods (GE Food). FDA scientists have stated that the genetic modification could result in “undesirable alteration in the level of nutrients” in that particular food (GE Food). In addition, in the 1980s, L-tryptophan, a food supplement, caused serious health issues (GMO Education). One hundred Americans died (GMO Education). It also caused disability and sickness in five to ten thousand other people (GMO Education). These sicknesses and death were most likely caused by the genetically modified organism in the product (GMO Education).
The Institute for Responsible Technology reported that over 50% of the babies of a mother rat that was fed GMO soy died within three weeks (GMO Education). This in comparison with the babies of the mothers fed non-GMO soy in which only 10% died in three weeks (GMO Education). In addition, the stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth which is a condition that could cause cancer (GMO Education). Those same rats also showed damage to their organs and immune system (GMO Education).
GE Food and Your Health. n.d. Center for Food Safety, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.
GMO Education. n.d. Institute For Responsible Technology, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.