Health Risks of Genetically Modified Food
Synopsis: Information and examples regarding possible health risks of consuming genetically modified foods in America. The AAEM has called for a moratorium on genetically modified foods, labeling, and long-term independent studies. Their position paper stated that several animal studies had indicated severe health risks associated with genetically modified foods. The experiments haven't been done, and we now have become the guinea pigs. Anyone that says, 'Oh, we know that this is perfectly safe,' I say, is either unbelievably stupid or deliberately lying.
- Genetically Modified Food
Genetically modified (GM) foods are foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been adjusted in a way that does not occur naturally, e.g., through the introduction of a gene from a different organism. The technology is often called "modern biotechnology" or "gene technology," sometimes also "recombinant DNA technology" or "genetic engineering." - (WHO)
It is very likely you are eating foods and products made with ingredients from GMO crops. Many GMO crops are used to make ingredients Americans eat, such as cornstarch, corn syrup, corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, or granulated sugar. A few fresh fruit and vegetables are available in GMO varieties, including potatoes, summer squash, apples, papayas, and pink pineapples - (US FDA)
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has called on doctors to educate their patients, the public, and the medical community, to avoid genetically modified foods whenever possible and to provide educational materials concerning genetically modified foods and their associated health risks.
The AAEM has called for a moratorium on genetically modified foods, labeling, and long-term independent studies. Their position paper stated that several animal studies had indicated serious health risks associated with genetically modified foods, including
- Insulin regulation
- Accelerated aging
- Immune problems
- Changes in major organs
- Changes in the gastrointestinal system
The AAEM also stated that there is more than a casual association between genetically modified foods and adverse health effects. "The strength of association and consistency between genetically modified foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies," according to the AAEM.
Many doctors are already prescribing diets free from genetically modified foods. Dr. Amy Dean, an Internal Medicine Specialist from Michigan and Board Member of the AAEM, says, "I strongly recommend patients eat strictly non-genetically modified foods."
An Allergist from Ohio, Dr. John Boyles, stated that he used to test people for soy allergies consistently, but now that soy is genetically engineered, it is so dangerous that he tells people never to eat it.
Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, who is President of the AAEM, stated that doctors are most likely seeing the effects in the people they provide care for, yet need to know how to ask the right questions.
Pushpa M. Bhargava, a world-renowned Biologist - upon reviewing greater than 600 scientific journals, concluded that genetically modified foods are a major contributor to the sharply deteriorating health of people in the United States of America.
Who is at Greatest Risk?
David Schubert, a Biologist at the Salk Institute, states that children are the most likely to be negatively affected by toxins and dietary issues related to genetically modified foods. David also says that children have become experimental animals related to these foods without adequate studies.
The experiences of animals that have been fed genetically modified foods are frightening. When genetically modified soy was fed to female rats, most of their babies died within three week period of time, compared to a 10% death rate among the control group fed natural soy. The genetically modified soy-fed babies were also smaller and later experienced issues with becoming pregnant.
Male rats fed genetically modified soy experienced testicles that changed color from pink to dark blue! Mice that were fed genetically modified soy had altered young sperm. Even the embryos of genetically modified soy-fed parent mice experienced significant changes in their DNA. Mice fed genetically modified corn in Australia had fewer babies - and the ones they did have were smaller than usual.
Reproductive issues plague livestock as well. Investigations in the state of Haryana, India, demonstrated that most buffalo that ate genetically modified cottonseed experienced complications such as abortions, premature deliveries, infertility, and prolapsed uteri. In America, approximately two dozen farmers reported that thousands of their pigs became sterile after eating certain genetically modified corns. Some pigs had false pregnancies, while others gave birth to water bags. Cows and bulls experienced infertility when fed the same genetically modified corns.
Within the population of the United States, the incidence of low birth weight babies, infant mortality, and infertility are all increasing.
Genetically Modified Crops Designed to Produce Toxin
Genetically modified cotton and corn are engineered to produce their pesticide in every cell. When bugs eat the plants, the poison splits open their stomach, killing them. The biotech company claim that the pesticide referred to as 'Bt,' produced from soil bacteria, 'Bacillus thuringiensis,' has a history of safe use because farmers and others use Bt bacteria spray for natural insect control. Genetic engineers insert Bt genes into cotton and corn, and the plants make the killing.
The Bt toxin produced in genetically modified plants is thousands of times more concentrated than natural Bt spray and is designed to be more toxic. It has the properties of an allergen and cannot be washed off the plant. Studies have confirmed that even the less toxic natural spray is harmful. When it was dispersed by a plane to kill gypsy moths in the Pacific Northwest, approximately 500 people reported allergy and flu-like symptoms. Some of these people had to go to the emergency room. Farm workers are reporting the same symptoms in India from handling Bt cotton.
Genetically Modified Crops Provoke Immune Reactions
The AAEM stated that multiple animal studies had demonstrated significant immune dysregulation, including increases in cytokines associated with allergy, asthma, and inflammation - all of which are increasing in the United States. Food Safety Expert Dr. Arpad Pusztai says that changes in the immune status of animals fed genetically modified foods are a consistent feature of all the studies. Monsanto's research revealed significant changes in rats fed Bt corn. A study by the Italian government also showed mice have an immune reaction to Bt corn.
Genetically modified corn and soy contain two proteins with allergenic properties. Genetically modified soy has up to seven times more 'trypsin inhibitor,' a known soy allergen. Skin prick tests demonstrate that some people react to genetically modified soy but not to non-genetically modified soy. Shortly after genetically modified soy was introduced in the United Kingdom, soy allergies increased by 50%.
Large Numbers of Animals Dying
In India, animals graze on cotton plants after harvest. Yet thousands died when shepherds allowed sheep to graze on Bt cotton plants. Autopsies revealed black patches, severe irritation in both intestines and liver, and enlarged bile ducts. Investigators stated that preliminary evidence strongly suggests that the sheep died due to a toxin - most likely Bt toxin. In a follow-up study by the Deccan Development Society, all sheep fed Bt cotton plants died within thirty days. Sheep that grazed on natural cotton plants stayed healthy.
In a village in Andhra Pradesh, buffalo grazed on cotton plants for eight years with no issues. January 3rd of 2008 found them grazing on Bt cotton plants for the first time. The buffalo were sick the next day, and they all died within three days. Bt corn has been implicated in the deaths of cows in Germany, as well as water buffaloes, horses, and chickens in the Philippines.
In laboratory studies, twice the number of chickens fed genetically modified corn died. Seven out of twenty rats fed genetically modified tomatoes developed bleeding stomachs, while another seven out of forty died within two weeks. Monsanto's study revealed evidence of poisoning in major organs of rats that were fed Bt corn.
Genetically Modified Crops Remain Inside You
The one published human feeding study showed what might be the most difficult issue related to genetically modified foods. The gene inserted into genetically modified soy transfers into the DNA of bacteria living inside a person's intestines and continues to function. This means that long after a person stops eating genetically modified foods, they may still have potentially harmful genetically modified proteins continually produced inside of them. In other words - if you eat a corn chip produced from Bt corn, it may transform your intestinal bacteria into a living pesticide factory; maybe for the rest of your life.
Evidence of gene transfer reported at medical conferences across the United States found doctors often responding by citing the huge increase of gastrointestinal issues they have been experiencing over the last decade. Genetically modified foods may be colonizing the gut flora of people in North America.
Ignoring and Denial of Government Scientist Warnings
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Scientists had already warned about the issues with genetically modified foods - as far back as the early 1990s. According to documents released from a lawsuit, the scientific consensus at the FDA was that genetically modified foods were inherently dangerous and may create:
- New diseases
- Nutritional problems
- Gene transfer to gut bacteria
The scientists at the FDA urged their superiors to require rigorous, long-term tests. Yet, the White House had ordered the agency to promote biotechnology. The FDA responded by recruiting Michael Taylor, a former attorney for Monsanto, to head up the information on genetically modified food policy.
The policy denies knowledge of scientists' concerns. It declares that no safety studies on genetically modified foods are required. It is up to Monsanto and other biotechnology companies to determine if their foods are safe for human and animal consumption. Mr. Taylor went on to become Monsanto's Vice President.
Scant Studies and Untraceable Diseases
AAEM stated that genetically modified foods have not been properly tested and pose a serious health risk. Not one human clinical trial on genetically modified organisms has been published. A review of published scientific literature in 2007 on the potential toxic effects and health risks of genetically modified plants showed that experimental data are very scarce. The author of the review concluded by asking where the scientific evidence showing that genetically modified plants and foods are toxicologically safe as assumed by biotechnology companies is.
Canadian Geneticist David Suzuki stated:
"The experiments simply haven't been done and we now have become the guinea pigs. Anyone that says, 'Oh, we know that this is perfectly safe,' I say is either unbelievably stupid or deliberately lying."
Dr. Schubert said that if there are problems, we will probably never know because the cause will not be traceable, and several diseases take a very long time to develop. If genetically modified plants and foods cause immediate and acute symptoms with unique signatures, we may have a chance to trace the cause. This is exactly what happened during an epidemic in America in the late 1980s. The disease was quick, deadly, and caused a notable and measurable change in the blood. It still took more than four years to identify that an epidemic was even happening. By then, it had killed around 100 people in America and caused 5,000 to 10,000 people to become ill or experience permanent disability. It was caused by a genetically engineered brand of a food supplement called 'L-tryptophan.'
If other genetically modified foods contribute to the increases in obesity, diabetes, autism, asthma, heart disease, cancer, allergies, reproductive problems, or other health issues in America, we might never know. Since animals fed genetically modified foods experience a wide variety of issues, susceptible people might react to genetically modified foods with multiple symptoms. In the first nine years after the large-scale introduction of genetically modified crops, the incidence of people who experience three or more chronic diseases nearly doubled.
References and Citations:
- a) Genetically Modified Food List and Information: Information on Genetically Modified (GM) foods including a list of GM foods with DNA changes and the pros and cons of GM food today.
- b) Potential Health Risks of Eating GMO Foods: www.care2.com/greenliving/health-risks-of-eating-gmo-foods.html
- c) Genetically Modified Food Labeling Through the Lens of Public Health: www.ucsf.edu/news/2012/11/13058/genetically-modified-food-labeling-through-lens-public-health
- d) Genetically Modified Foods: Are They a Risk to Human/Animal Health: www.actionbioscience.org/biotechnology/pusztai.html
Thomas C. Weiss is a researcher and editor for Disabled World. Thomas attended college and university courses earning a Masters, Bachelors and two Associate degrees, as well as pursing Disability Studies. As a Nursing Assistant Thomas has assisted people from a variety of racial, religious, gender, class, and age groups by providing care for people with all forms of disabilities from Multiple Sclerosis to Parkinson's; para and quadriplegia to Spina Bifida.
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Cite This Page (APA): Thomas C. Weiss. (2013, June 28). Health Risks of Genetically Modified Food. Disabled World. Retrieved September 30, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/fitness/nutrition/foodsecurity/gm-health-risks.php