Certain facts about genetically modified organisms and food



Genetically modified organisms and the food made from them are a serious threat to human health and the environment.

We need to act before it is too late.
The genes of organisms from bacteria to man are the "plan" in which these organisms and each part of them are built. Genetic "engineering" is the process of artificially conversion of these plans. In a laboratory gene technology is indispensable in study of fundamental processes in living cells. On the other hand genetic manipulation of organisms with various commercial and political purposes hide many dangers. This is because living organisms, even single-celled bacteria, are quite complex and scientists can not foresee all the consequences of the insertion of foreign genes into an organism. Therefore is not possible to predict in advance what will be the long-term effects on the body of one who consumes food derived from such genetically modified organisms and what are the long term effects on the environment.

Today the world recognizes the catastrophic side effects caused by the nuclear pollution, global warming, toxic effects caused by various chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides. Often drugs are withdrawn from use because of dangerous side effects. In all cases, however, the damaging effects take time to be seen and to be taken appropriate measures.

What are the dangers of introduction of genetically modified organisms and eating foods derived from them?

I. Fundamental disadvantages:

Gene technology is not accurate
The introduction of foreign genes into the manipulated organism is a process in which the place where the foreign gene will fall can not be controlled. Consequence of this is the huge risk of causing interference in the functions of other genes and the body receiver. (Bergelson, J., Purrington, CB, 1998. Promiscuity in Transgenic Plants. Nature 3 September 1998, p. 25.)

Ubiquitous failure of the agricultural crop.
The companies aim to profit by patenting of genetically modified seeds. The plants from such seeds can cause occurrence of specific pests and indiscriminate destruction of the crop. (Return to Resistance: Breeding crops to reduce pesticide dependency by RA Robinson, California, USA: AgAccess. Ottawa, Canada: IDRC Books. 1996).

Threat to the overall food supply.
Genetically modified seeds can be easily carried by insects, birds, wind to neighboring areas and beyond. Pollination of non-modified plants with pollen from transgenic could lead to their genetic contamination. (Emberlin, J., Adams-Groom, B., and Tidmarsh, J., 1999. A Report on the Dispersal of Maize Pollen. National Pollen Research Unit, University College, Worcester WR2 6 AJ, England., January (1999) . (February 23, 2004 Genetically Engineered DNA Found in Traditional Seeds. Study Has Implications for Trade, Organic Agriculture, Human Health.

II. Risks to human health.


New toxins.
Genetic manipulation may result in unexpected mutations that may be the cause of high levels of toxins in genetically modified foods. (Inose, T., and Murata, K. 1995. Enhanced accumulation of toxic compound in yeast cells having high glycolytic activity: a case study on the safety of genetically engineered yeast. International Journal of Food Science and Technology, Vol. 30, p . 141).

Allergic reactions.
(Nordsee, JD, Taylor, SL, Townsend, JA, Thomas, LA and Bush ,, RK, 1996. Identification of a Brazil nut Allergen in Transgenic Soybeans. New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 334 (11), p. 726 .).

Severely reduced food and taste quality.
Nice looking genetically manipulated tomato could be several weeks old, tasteless and with a complete lack of nutritional value.

Occurrence of antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria.
(New Scientist, January 30, 1999. Can we really stomach GM foods? Gut reaction.).

(Mayeno, AN, and Gleich, GJ, 1994. Eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome and tryptophan production: a cautionary tale. TIBTECH, Vol. 12, p. 346.)

III. Environmental Hazards
Enlarged use of herbicides.
(Benbrook, C., 1999. Evidence of the Magnitude and Consequences of the Roundup Ready Soybean Yield Drag from University-Based Varietal Trials in 1998. Benbrook Consulting Services, Sandpoint, Idaho, Ag BioTech InfoNet Technical Paper Number 1, July 13, 1999 ).

(Metz, PJ, Jacobsen, E., Nap, J., Pereira, A., and Stiekema, WJ, 1997. The impact on biosafety of the phosphinothricin-tolerance transgene in inter-specific B. rapa x B. napus hybrids and their successive backcrosses. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 95, 442-450.)

Once genetically modified organisms introduced into the environment or derived from interaction with non-modified organisms can not be taken back. Genetic pollution, unlike nuclear or chemical is irreversible.

Dr. Didi Baev
Recearch fellow Molecular Microbiology and Genetics
(State University of New York) in the city Bafalo, USA,