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The growing concerns over the safety of gm foods

Learn A growing body of research suggests that genetically modified organisms more commonly referred to as GMOs may be doing more harm than good when it comes to human health and the health of the environment.

  • Contamination is a real threat, particularly in crops that easily cross-pollinate, such as corn and canola;
  • Since GE crops were first approved in the United States, food allergies have risen dramatically, in step with GE crop market penetration.

A recent study coming out of Iowa State University, for example, found that Monsanto's genetically modified corn may have led to the rise of pesticide-resistant "superbugs," which could result in some farmers using even harsher pesticides on their fields. Read on to learn more about this and other issues that raise red flags about GMOs. GMOs are organisms that have been created through the application of transgenic, gene-splicing techniques that are part of biotechnology. These methods for moving genes are also referred to as genetic engineering GE.

This relatively new science allows DNA genetic material from one species to be transferred into another species, creating transgenic organisms with combinations of genes from plants, animals, bacteria, and even viral gene pools. Mixing genes from different species that have never shared genes in the past makes GMOs and GE crops unique. It is impossible to create such organisms through traditional crossbreeding methods. The United States went ahead with approvals although no human trials had ever been conducted to assess the safety and allergenicity of these novel proteins.

Since GE crops were first approved in the United States, food allergies have risen dramatically, in step with GE crop market penetration. For instance, some major problems with GE crops are already emerging. The spread of resistant weeds has driven herbicide use up sharply, increasing human health and environmental impacts and raising farmer costs.

Also, many GE crops are more prone to plant diseases, and some suffer micro-nutrient deficiencies because of subtle changes in soil microbial communities.

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Contamination is a real threat, particularly in crops that easily cross-pollinate, such as corn and canola. Meanwhile, more and more studies are confirming that there are genuine concerns about their use. The the growing concerns over the safety of gm foods looks at some of the concerns that are being raised. The most striking finding: However, herbicide-tolerant crops increased herbicide use by a total of 382.

Herbicide-tolerant soybeans increased herbicide use by 351 million pounds, accounting for 92 percent of the total increase in herbicide use across the three herbicide-tolerant crops. Although overall pesticide use decreased in the first three years of commercial introduction of GE crops, pesticide use increased by 20 percent in 2007 and 27 percent in 2008.

There are two major factors for this: Their later study, published in the Oct. Reporting the findings at the 95th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of Americascientists reported that they had found that more than 80 percent of canola plants sampled from more than 1,000 miles of roadsides around North Dakota were inadvertently genetically engineered to tolerate herbicides, either glyphosate or glufonisate. In addition, two of the plants analyzed contained two transgenes, indicating that they had cross-pollinated.

In 2010, Monsanto reported to the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee in India that pink bollworms, a common insect pest that feeds on cotton, have developed resistance to its GE cotton variety Bollgard I in Gujarat, India. The company noted it had detected the resistance during field monitoring in the 2009 cotton season. It reported to date that at least nine species of weeds in the United States have evolved resistance to glyphosate since GE crops were introduced.

If this happens, and no new soybean post-emergence herbicides are commercialized, soybean production may not be practical in many Midwest U. For example, researchers at the University of Georgia in Tifton found multiple resistances in Palmer amaranth to glyphosate and the herbicide pyrithiobac.

In addition, research confirmed resistance of Italian ryegrass in hazelnut orchards in Oregon to glufosinate ammonium, a non-selective broad-spectrum herbicide.

The New Food Fights: U.S. Public Divides Over Food Science

Still another study confirmed the first documented glyphosate-resistant Johnson grass biotype in West Memphis, AR. These effects mostly occurred with the kidney and liver, while other effects were noticed in the heart, adrenal glands, spleen and hematopoietic system. The researchers concluded that these data highlight signs of hepato-renal toxicity, possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GE corn. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup.

He explained that most of the safety data on glyphosate herbicides and GE soy were provided by industry and are not independent. Carrasco began researching the embryonic effects of glyphosate after seeing reports of high rates of birth defects in rural areas of Argentina where GE Roundup Ready soybeans are grown in large monocultures sprayed regularly from airplanes. Also, the use of recombinant growth hormones or its expression in animals should be re-examined since it has been shown that it increases IGF-1 which may promote cancer.

Although scientists and multinational corporations promoting GE crops have maintained that Bt toxin poses no danger to human health as the protein, Cry1Ab, breaks down in the human gut, the findings from this study show this does not happen.

Instead, it was found circulating in the blood of pregnant and non-pregnant women.

Concerns About GMOs

The study also detected the toxin in fetal blood. Cry1Ab toxin was detected in 93 percent and 80 percent of maternal and fetal blood samples, respectively, and in 69 percent of tested blood samples from non-pregnant women. However, GE foods are not labeled. As a result, the Organic Trade Association and many consumer groups have long called for labeling GE foods in the marketplace. But this concern goes beyond consumers and organic interests.

In 2010, for instance, the Indiana State Medical Association ISMA, representing approximately 8,300 physicians in every county in Indiana resolved that it would seek legislation requiring that any foods containing genetically engineered ingredients be clearly labeled. The crops most often genetically modified in the United States—as well as the ingredients made from them—are corn, the growing concerns over the safety of gm foods, canola, sugar beets and cotton.

Thus, the following ingredients on labels, if not labeled as non-GMO or organic, are likely genetically modified. Additionally the contractual information, test results and genetic information are not readily available to researchers and scientists. This greatly limits the ability to assess environmental and public health safety over time. As patented products, the primers and gene sequences related to GE crop events are not readily disclosed—greatly limiting independent scientific scrutiny.

Prohibitions on land-grant universities conducting research on GE crop events without permission from patent holders further exacerbates the dearth of independent research. There continues to be emerging evidence of environmental and public health concern from the adoption of GMOs in agriculture. References Food Allergy Among U. Trends in Prevalence and Hospitalizations, Amy M. Branum and Susan L. Frauendorf, and David J.

Ross, Jason Londo, Connie A. Henry Lee, Steven E. Van de Water, and Cynthia L.

  1. Americans are most trusting of scientists, small farm owners for information about the effects of GM foods Americans are, comparatively speaking, more trusting of information from scientists and small farm owners on the safety of GM foods than they are of information from food industry leaders, the news media or elected officials. Thus, the following ingredients on labels, if not labeled as non-GMO or organic, are likely genetically modified.
  2. Most Americans say scientists should have a role in policymaking on GM foods Despite some skepticism among the public about scientists working on GM foods, most of the public wants scientists to have a seat at the policymaking table. As a result, the majority of processed foods in the U.
  3. For example, researchers at the University of Georgia in Tifton found multiple resistances in Palmer amaranth to glyphosate and the herbicide pyrithiobac.
  4. Herbicide-tolerant soybeans increased herbicide use by 351 million pounds, accounting for 92 percent of the total increase in herbicide use across the three herbicide-tolerant crops. In addition, research confirmed resistance of Italian ryegrass in hazelnut orchards in Oregon to glufosinate ammonium, a non-selective broad-spectrum herbicide.

Sagers, research reported at the 95th Ecological Society of America in August 2010 http: