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Why you should be concerned about genetically engineered food?
- The main worries about the production and consumption of GE foods are the possible adverse effects on human health and the potential negative impact on the environment. Concerns also focus around the lack of regulation of GE foods.
As genetically modified (GM) foods are starting to intrude in our diet concerns have been expressed regarding GM food safety. These concerns as well as the limitations of the procedures followed in the evaluation of their safety are presented. Animal toxicity studies with certain GM foods have shown …
- Artemis Dona, Ioannis S. Arvanitoyannis
Dec 19, 2012 · ACS Symp series 605 Genetically modified foods—safety issues. Washington, D.C: American Chemical Society; 1995. pp. 135–147. [Google Scholar] Novak WK, Haslberger AG. Substantial equivalence of antinutrients and inherent plant toxins in genetically modified novel foods. Food Chem Toxicol. 2000; 38:473–483. doi: 10.1016/S0278-6915(00)00040-5.
- A. S. Bawa, K. R. Anilakumar
- The Flawed Processes of GMO Risk Assessment
- The Dangers of GMOs
- The True Purpose of GMOs
Some of my concerns with GMOs, however, are “just” practical. I have read numerous GMO risk assessment applications. These are the documents that governments rely on to ‘prove’ their safety. Though these documents are quite long and quite complex, their length is misleading in that they primarily ask trivial questions. Furthermore, the experiments described within them are often very inadequate and sloppily executed. Scientific controls are often missing, procedures and reagents are badly described, and the results are often ambiguous or uninterpretable. In consequence, the government regulators who examine the data are effectively reliant on the word of the applicants that the research supports whatever the applicant claims. There are other elementary scientific flaws too; for example, applications routinely ignore or dismiss obvious red flags such as experiments yielding unexpected outcomes.
Aside from grave doubts about the quality and integrity of risk assessments, I also have specific science-based concerns over GMOs. These concerns are mostly particular to specific transgenes and traits. Many GMO plants are engineered to contain their own insecticides. These GMOs, which include maize, cotton and soybeans, are called Bt plants. Bt plants get their name because they incorporate a transgene that makes a protein-based toxin (sometimes called the Cry toxin) from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. Many Bt crops are “stacked,” meaning they contain a multiplicity of these Cry toxins. Their makers believe each of these Bt toxins is insect-specific and safe. However, there are multiple reasons to doubt both safety and specificity. One concern is that Bacillus thuringiensis is all but indistinguishable from the well known anthrax bacterium (Bacillus anthracis). Another reason is that Bt insecticides share structural similarities with ricin. Ricin is a famously dangerous pla...
Science is not the only grounds on which GMOs should be judged. The commercial purpose of GMOs is not to feed the world or improve farming. Rather, they exist to gain intellectual property (i.e. patent rights) over seeds and plant breeding and to drive agriculture in directions that benefit agribusiness. This drive is occurring at the expense of farmers, consumers and the natural world. US Farmers, for example, have seen seed costs nearly quadruple and seed choices greatly narrow since the introduction of GMOs. The fight over them is thus not of narrow importance. Their use affects us all. Nevertheless, specific scientific concerns are crucial to the debate. I left science in large part because it seemed impossible to do research while also providing the unvarnished public scepticism that I believed the public, as ultimate funder and risk-taker of that science, was entitled to. Criticism of science and technology remains very difficult. Even though many academics benefit from ten...
People also ask
Why you should be concerned about genetically engineered food?
What are the pros and cons of genetically engineered food?
Are there possible health risks of GMO foods?
What health problems can genetically modified food cause?
A significant percentage of processed foods purchased today contain some genetically engineered (GE) food products. As a result, each day, tens of millions of American infants, children and adults eat genetically engineered foods without their knowledge.
- Down to Earth and GMOs
- What Are Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)?
- What Are The Benefits of GMOs?
- How Widespread Is The Adoption of GMOs?
- What Are The Major Concerns?
- Weak Government Oversight
Down to Earth is opposed to the development of products containing GMOs because we believe they may pose health, safety, and other potential risks that far outweigh the purported benefits. Unfortunately, along with many food manufacturers, other retailers, and consumers, Down to Earth is essentially a victim of the biotechnology industry. The biotechnology industry has forced its products upon us with inadequate testing and—due to the lack of government action—without any requirement for labeling. As a result, it is not possible for Down to Earth to identify which products may or may not contain GMOs. Therefore, regrettably, as with all grocers and natural foods stores, we may sell some products that may contain GMOs. Down to Earth strongly promotes the organic industry, whose products are produced without GMOs. Until recently, selecting foods labeled Organic has been the only way customers could avoid non-GMO foods. However, organic certification covers how a food is grown, not the...
Introduced in 1996, the genetic engineering of plants and animals today looms as one of the greatest and most intractable environmental challenges of the 21st Century. With promises of making more and supposedly “better” food, this new technology - also known as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) - has invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries by fundamentally altering some of our most important staple food crops. Currently, up to 80 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans.1 It has been estimated that 75-80 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves--from soda to soup, crackers to condiments--contain genetically engineered ingredients.2Yet another common GMO food source is dairy products from cows injected with the genetically modified hormone Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). Because there are no laws mandating that these ingredients must be labeled as genetically modified, consumers are most likely unwittingly consum...
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are essentially plants and animals that have had their genetic material (DNA) altered in a way that does not occur naturally. The technology is also known as “biotechnology,” ” bioengineering,” “recombinant DNA technology,” or “genetic engineering.” It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, or between non-related species, e.g. animal genes are being inserted into fruits and vegetables. By being able to take the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists are inventing genetically modified plants and animals–which are then grown as food. Examples include potatoes with bacteria genes, "super" pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle growth genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, and thousands of other plants, animals and insects. These creations are now being patented and released into the environment at an alarming rate. Back to top
The main focus of the GMO industry during the past decade has been to develop GMO crops that are supposed to increase crop yields while reducing applications of crop protection chemicals. However, the success of these strategies is the subject of much debate with many alleging that the use of GMO crops has led to the use of additional herbicides and no increase in crop yields. New GMO crops currently in development are expected by the big agribusinesses to help farmers produce food that is supposed to be in their opinion healthier, more nutritious and better tasting. To offset the potential impact of global warming, new varieties of GMO food crops that resist higher temperatures, withstand drought, or thrive in salt water are being developed to allegedly help stem potential food shortages in the future. However, there is little evidence to support any of these alleged benefits, and much evidence to the contrary. One thing is for sure though, the companies that make the GMOs benefit...
In the United States alone, more than 154 million acres of GMO crops were planted in 2008, up from 143 million acres in 2007. The primary GMO crops grown in the U.S. are corn, cotton, canola and soybeans, but also squash, papaya, alfalfa, and sugar beet. Soybeans and cotton that are genetically engineered with herbicide-tolerant traits have been the most widely and rapidly adopted GE crops in the U.S., followed by insect-resistant cotton and corn.3 Globally, GMO acreage in 2008 grew to 309 million acres (125 million hectares) versus 282 million acres (114.3 million hectares) in 2007. This is a 26.43 million acre (10.7 million hectare) increase, an increase of 9.4 percent. In 2008, GMO crops were grown in 25 countries, up from 23 countries in 2007. More than two billion acres (800 million hectares) of GMO crops have been planted globally since 1996.4Back to top
The increasingly rapid adoption of GMOs brings to question risks associated with GMOs. It is aggravated by a significant lack of agreement among scientists and thought leaders about what those risks actually are. Discussions have covered a broad range of concerns about the health and environmental safety of GMOs. The three main issues debated are potential harms to human health and environmental safety, and whether the risk assessment itself is reliable. 1. Potential Harms to Health 2. Potential Environmental Harms 3. Unknown Harms to the Environment 4. Risk Assessment
In the waning months of the Bush Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a proposal to completely overhaul its regulation of genetically engineered crops, significantly weakening its oversight. Officials of the Obama Administration are reviewing the proposal and seeking public comment in 2009. An advisory issued by the Center for Food Safety said: Clearly, there is something wrong with this picture. We call on the Obama Administration to reject the irresponsible "anything goes" GMO policy, and to put in place rules that will create real change in the regulation and oversight of GE crops. And we request a moratorium on commercial planting of any new GE crops until responsible, comprehensive regulations are in place. Back to top
Food manufacturers are not required to label if their food is genetically modified, but GMO labeling advocates continue to raise concerns surrounding this issue. Until laws change, there is some hope for steering clear of GMOs if you wish to do so. The following guidelines may help you keep the GMOs in your diet to a minimum: