GMO on Human Health
**This is the second in a series on GMO food. I have discussed the GMO Basics, and will write in later posts on the impact GMO’s have on our planet’s health, how to avoid GMO food, where to get GMO-free seeds, and why GMO’s should be labeled.
The affects of GMO’s on human health are still uncertain. This is mainly due to the fact that very little research has been done on the effects of GMO crops. The few studies that have been done, do show great cause for concern. For in depth description of this research you can visit the Action BioScience site.
From Organic Consumers Association: In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration claimed that they had no information showing that GM foods were substantially different from conventionally grown foods and therefore were safe to eat. But internal memos made public by a lawsuit reveal that their position was staged by political appointees under orders from the White House to promote GMOs. FDA scientists, on the other hand, warned that GMOs can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged long term safety studies, but were ignored (see reference). The FDA does not require any safety evaluations for GMOs. Instead, biotech companies, who have been found guilty of hiding toxic effects of their chemical products, are now in charge of determining whether their GM foods are safe. (The FDA official in charge of creating this policy was Michael Taylor, Monsanto’s former attorney and later their vice president.)
- The primary reason companies genetically engineer plants is to make them tolerant to their brand of herbicide. The four major GM plants, soy, corn, canola, and cotton, are designed to survive an otherwise deadly dose of weed killer. These crops have much higher residues of toxic herbicides. About 68% of GM crops are herbicide tolerant.
- The second GM trait is a built-in pesticide. A gene from the soil bacterium called Bt (for Bacillus thuringiensis) is inserted into corn and cotton DNA, where it secretes the insect-killing Bt-toxin in every cell. About 19% of GM crops produce their own pesticide. Another 13% produce a pesticide and are herbicide tolerant.
- One of the major health concerns with GM food is its potential to increase allergies and anaphylaxis in humans eating unlabeled GM foodstuffs. For example, if an individual who has a known allergy to peanuts unsuspectingly consumed a genetically modified organism that contained the allergenic protein from the peanut, conceivably the individual would experience an allergic reaction.
Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) in GMO crops present health risks:
- The biotech industry claims that Bt-toxin is harmless to humans and mammals because the natural bacteria version has been used as a spray by farmers for years. However, Bt in GM crops is designed to be more toxic than the natural spray and is thousands of times more concentrated.
- When sheep grazed on Bt cotton plants after harvest, within a week 1 in 4 died. Shepherds estimate 10,000 sheep deaths in one region of India. Farmers in Europe and Asia say that cows, water buffaloes, chickens, and horses died from eating Bt corn varieties.
- About two dozen US farmers report that Bt corn varieties caused widespread sterility in pigs or cows.
- Filipinos in at least five villages fell sick when a nearby Bt corn variety was pollinating.
- The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a condition that may be a precursor to cancer. Rats also had damaged organs and immune systems.
One example of a study done from GM tomatoes on rats:
In acute toxicity studies with male/female rats, which were tube-fed homogenized GM tomatoes, toxic effects were claimed to be absent. In addition, it was concluded that mean body and organ weights, weight gains, food consumption and clinical chemistry or blood parameters were not significantly different between GM-fed and control groups. However:
- The unacceptably wide range of rat starting weights (±18% to ±23%) invalidated these findings.
- No histology on the intestines was done even though stomach sections showed mild/moderate erosive/necrotic lesions in up to seven out of twenty female rats but none in the controls. However, these were considered to be of no importance, although in humans they could lead to life-endangering hemorrhage, particularly in the elderly who use aspirin to prevent thrombosis.
- Seven out of forty rats on GM tomatoes died within two weeks for unstated reasons.
- These studies were poorly designed and therefore the conclusion that FLAVR SAVRTM tomatoes were safe does not rest on good science, questioning the validity of the FDA’s decision that no toxicological testing of other GM foods will in future be required.
There is a lot of commentary on the risks of GMO’s on your health (too much to include here) but here is what to take away:
GMO’s have been linked to thousands of toxic and allergenic reactions, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals.