Engineering an Environmental Disaster
Though the debate over the health effects of eating genetically modified food continues, one thing is certain. GE crops paired with their pesticide counterparts wreak havoc on the environment through:
- Increased herbicide use
- Increase of herbicide-resistant weeds
- The contamination of organic and conventional (non-GMO) crops
Potential risks of GM foods
„Three major health risks potentially associated with GM foods are: toxicity, allergenicity and genetic hazards. These arise from three potential sources, the inserted gene and their expressed proteins per se, secondary or pleiotropic effects of the products of gene expression, and the possible disruption of natural genes in the manipulated organism“
Ecological risks associated with GM food
Selection of resistance
„Currently, the majority of GM foods are aimed at endowing the altered plant two desirable properties – pest-resistance or herbicide-resistance…
The use of these two technologies greatly reduces immediate input costs incurred by farmers…But, in the long-term, can these strategies really out-fox Nature, in her ineluctable progress toward selecting better-adapted species? When heartier weeds and insects evolve, what then?“
Disruption of the food web
„The scenario here is that the pest population might shift from those put-off by the engineered plants to other, undaunted species. This shift, in turn, might unleash a pervasive disruption of the entire food chain, with new predators of the new insect species…Or the disruption might work in the other direction, whereby residues of herbicide or insect resistant plants might generate negative effects on organisms (e.g. bacteria, fungi, etc.) found in surrounding soil.“
Resistance to antibiotics
„Development of resistance to antibiotics is a scourge well known to medical science, and is traceable to the over-use of therapeutic antibiotics in medicine and agriculture. In the processes of genetic modification, antibiotics are also frequently employed, typically as selection markers, to distinguish successfully transformed bacteria from those in which the transfecting genes did not take hold. Thus, the machinations to genetically modify an organism carries the risk of transferring the genes of antibiotics resistance into the benign bacteria comprising the microflora of human and animal gastrointestinal tracts, or, worse yet, to pathogenic bacteria harbored by the consumer of GM a food, because bacteria, good and bad, are quite capable of shuttling useful genes – like those that protect them from nasty antibiotics – around by horizontal transfer between species“
Genetically Modified Foods
Risks and Dangers of GMOs
„Soon after GM soy was introduced to the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50 percent. Without follow-up tests, we can’t be sure if genetic engineering was the cause, but there are plenty of ways in which genetic manipulation can boost allergies.
- A gene from a Brazil nut inserted into soybeans made the soy allergenic to those who normally react to Brazil nuts.
- GM soy currently consumed in the US contains a gene from bacteria. The inserted gene creates a protein that was never before part of the human food supply, and might be allergenic.
- Sections of that protein are identical to those found in shrimp and dust mite allergens. According to criteria recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), this fact should have disqualified GM soy from approval.
- The sequence of the gene that was inserted into soy has inexplicably rearranged over time. The protein it creates is likely to be different than the one intended, and was never subject to any safety studies. It may be allergenic or toxic.
- The process of inserting the foreign gene damaged a section of the soy’s own DNA, scrambling its genetic code. This mutation might interfere with DNA expression or create a new, potentially dangerous protein.
- The most common allergen in soy is called trypsin inhibitor. GM soy contains significantly more of this compared with natural soy.“