Negative Side Effects of GMOs
One of the potential health risks of genetically modified food is allergies. To genetically modify a food, scientists take genes from one food to put into another food. This can cause allergic reactions and other side effects when people consume the modified foods.
For example, in 1996 soybeans were genetically engineered to have the same protein components as Brazil nuts. The problem researchers found was that the soybeans also contained the allergic properties of the nuts.
Thankfully, this was discovered before they were released to the public.
However, not all instances of potential adverse effects have been discovered before being released to the public. For example, in 1989 a genetically modified dietary supplement of tryptophan allegedly killed 37 people, permanently disabled 1,500 people, and caused 5,000 people to develop a blood disorder before the FDA was able to recall the product.
Another serious concern is that GM foods contain antibiotic markers, which is thought to be one of the reasons that the effectiveness of treatments are decreasing. This means that more powerful drugs are going to be needed to treat infections and diseases in the future.
Humans health is not all that’s at risk. Damery reports that GM plants allow farmers to increase the amount of pesticides and herbicides used on their land, which will increase the amount of chemicals finding their way into the water system and damaging the soil.
GMOs: Weighing the Pros and Cons
These are just some of the pros and cons of genetically modified foods – with such a controversy, it’s no wonder that the fight for Proposition 37 in California was so hard-fought on both sides. Understanding the laws and what GMOs are and how they are made will allow consumers to make an informed decision about purchasing and consuming foods that are genetically modified.
U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. Genetically Modified Food and Organisms. (2012). Human Genome Project. Accessed December 29, 2012.
Damery, P, et al. The Debate on Labeling Genetically Modified Food. (2011). Accessed December 29, 2012.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Weighing the GMO Arguments. (2003). Accessed December 29, 2012.