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The potential and health hazards of genetically modified organisms

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  • As cited by the European food safety authority [ 13 ], the following points should be addressed when appropriate;
  • But the US approach, which incorporates a moderate version of the principle requiring governmental approval prior to their commercial cultivation , has led to rapid adoption of GM crops and brought significant environmental benefits relative to conventional crops such as higher yields, lower pesticide usage, and increases in biodiversity [ 65 ].

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See the article " Genetically Modified Foods: This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

4 Potential Health Risks of Eating GMO Foods

Potential problems from antibiotic-resistant genes used in gene-altered crops, risks from unintended effects of the genetic engineering process, the increases in pesticide use stemming from widespread planting of gene-spliced varieties—these and several other concerns were ignored or hardly mentioned in the lengthy article.

Nothing could be further from the truth. For example, regarding the risk of allergies from gene-altered foods, Schmidt stated that biotech companies avoid allergy problems by avoiding genes from the most common allergens.

  1. To ensure that a policy is truly precautionary, one should compare the risks of adopting the policy against not adopting it. The commercial development of a GM plant proceeds in a stepwise fashion, and environmental release in the first instance is in the form of field trials that are limited in number, size, and environments in which they occur.
  2. Many of these risks are identical to those incurred with regards to the introduction of naturally or conventionally bred species.
  3. Risk assessment also focused on the change brought about by genetic engineering allows for detailed consideration of the potential consequences of the change relative to the way the GM plant is intended to be used and the environments in which it may be found. The management of risk is an exclusively political action, resulting in a decision regarding whether to accept or not the risk previously estimated.
  4. Developing further requirements or fine-tuning obligations at this stage only worsens the degree of noncompliance already in existence.

However, in an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, Nestle 1996 pointed out that this approach leaves many uncertainties: Most biotechnology companies use microorganisms rather than food plants as gene donors, even though the allergenic potential of these newly introduced microbial proteins is uncertain, unpredictable, and untestable ….

Because FDA requirements do not apply to foods that are rarely allergenic or to donor organisms of unknown allergenicity, the policy would appear to favor industry over consumer protection. Schmidt 2005 went on to assert that after a 1993 study alerted them to the possibility of introducing allergens, biotech companies developed better screens and learned to abandon varieties that could not be deemed allergen-free.

International Scholarly Research Notices

Far from abandoning a risky new variety 5 years after this study, industry marketed a new genetically engineered corn variety, despite warning signs that it might trigger allergies in people. Although it was registered only for nonfood uses, the altered corn, called StarLink, contaminated hundreds of food products sold in supermarkets nationwide and cost industry and farmers hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up.

Despite this and other troubling contamination episodes, such as those described by Gillis 2002Nichols 2002and Greenpeace 2005the biotech industry continues to grow open fields of genetically engineered pharmaceutical crops crops altered to produce experimental drugs or industrial proteins that have never been assessed for their allergenic potential or other food safety issues.

The purported benefits of gene-modified varieties should be examined against other agricultural approaches that have shown documented gains for food production and the environment. Schmidt 2005 cited a study of recent field trials of gene-altered rice in China that looked at a few dozen farms Huang 2005.

Other large-scale projects have shown that thousands of Chinese farmers using ecologic techniques significantly reduced pesticide use without expensive, patented gene-modified seeds Yanqing 2002. This terminator technology was developed to ensure that farmers in the developing world could not reuse genetically engineered seed ETC Group 2002. Advocates have uncovered over two dozen similar industry patents for seed sterility engineering Rural Advancement Foundation International 1999.

This technology threatens the lives of over 1. Communique—Terminator Technology Targets Farmers. Biotech firm mishandled corn in Iowa.

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Washington Post 14 November: Iowa State University Extension. PDF [accessed 17 August 2005]. Traces of contaminated grain still showing up in corn supply.

  • Many frameworks of risk assessment methodology separate risk assessment from risk management;
  • Ecosystem Impacts The effects of changes in a single species may extend well beyond to the ecosystem;
  • Advocates have uncovered over two dozen similar industry patents for seed sterility engineering Rural Advancement Foundation International 1999;
  • This terminator technology was developed to ensure that farmers in the developing world could not reuse genetically engineered seed ETC Group 2002.

Knight Ridder Newspapers, 1 December. Allergies to transgenic foods—questions of policy. N Engl J Med. The Three Mile Island of biotech? The Nation 30 December: Rural Advancement Foundation International 1999.

  • Many of these risks are identical to those incurred with regards to the introduction of naturally or conventionally bred species;
  • These groups were negatively affected in the case of transgenic HT sugar beet, were, positive in case of HT Maiza and showed no effect in spring oilseed rape;
  • Allergies Perhaps the number one health concern over GM technology is its capacity to create new allergens in our food supply;
  • Does the genetic modification of the plant cause it to have attributes commonly associated with weeds in managed environments?
  • Adverse Effects on the Health of People or the Environment These include enhanced pathogenicity, emergence of a new disease, pest or weed, increased disease burden if the recipient organism is a pathogenic microorganism or virus, increased weed or pest burden if the recipient organism is a plant or invertebrate, and adverse effects on species, communities, or ecosystems.

Integrated pest management and green farming in rural poverty alleviation in China. Genetic diversity and disease control in rice.