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Genetically Engineered Foods

.. r irritants and could act at the biochemical, cellular, tissue or organ levels to disrupt a range of physiological functions. An example of a class of genetically engineered foods that are of particular concern are those that have been modified to produce biological control agents such as the family of insecticidal Bt enterotoxins. The Bt toxin, which has been used topically in organic farming, has powerful biological activity. If consumed in larger amounts it can become a toxin. Plants genetically-manipulated to produce Bt toxin produce at least 1000 times more Bt toxin per acre than does a heavy application of Bt directly on plants.

There was another case where one company genetically engineered a microorganism to produce L-tryptophan at high levels killed almost 37 people and made 1500 permanently disabled by using that product. This was due to the presence of traces of a toxic contaminant. This contaminant was extremely powerful. Damage to Nutrition quality A 1999 study by Dr. Marc Lappe published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that concentrations of beneficial phytoestrogen compounds thought to protect against heart disease and cancer were lower in genetically modified soybeans than in traditional strains.

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These and other studies, including Dr. Pusztais, indicate that genetically engineered food will likely result in foods lower in quality and nutrition. For example the milk from cows injected with rBGH contains higher levels of pus, bacteria, and fat. Sources of risk Unmodified Organism (UMO) The genetic engineering of foods involves the introduction of new genetic information into a food-producing organism. Some of the health risks associated with genetically engineered foods can be anticipated on the basis of what we already know about the characteristics of the organism in its unmodified state (called the unmodified organism UMO) from which the genetically engineered organism is to be generated. Gene Source (GS) Other aspects of the risk associated with genetically engineered foods can be deduced from the characteristic of the organism that is the source of the genetic information introduced into the food producing organism (called the gene source or GS). For instance, if a gene derived from peanuts is introduced into a tomato, food produced from the resulting genetically engineered tomato might cause allergic reactions in people that are allergic to tomatoes (the unmodified organism) or to peanuts (the gene source). Procedure of Genetic Engineering In addition to UMO and GS, there is another source of potential risks, which is the procedure of genetic engineering itself.

Current recombinant DNA methods and those likely to be developed in the future are all capable of accidentally introducing unintended changes in the function and structure of the food-producing organism. As a result, the genetically engineered food may have characteristics that were not intended by the genetic engineer, and that cannot be foreseen on the basis of the known characteristics of the unmodified organism or gene source. Labeling Issues FDA requires labeling of genetically engineered foods under certain exceptional circumstances. Since most genetically engineered foods will be indistinguishable in appearance from non-engineered foods, consumers will generally not know what they are buying. FDA ignores consumers right to know by ignoring longstanding regulations that require in most circumstances that manufactures label foods to disclose their ingredients.

For example, researchers have genetically engineered vegetables to produce a new protein sweetener. Existing FDA regulations mandate that companies disclose sweeteners added to canned vegetables via conventional means. Yet, FDA will not require that proteins sweeteners added to vegetables via genetic engineering be labeled as ingredients. Labeling is vital to food allergic individuals, who need to know when their purchases are potentially allergenic. FDA will require labeling of foods genetically engineered to contain potential allergens from only the most commonly allergenic foodsa requirement that threatens individuals with less common food allergies.

FDA also will require labeling if a company uses genetic engineering techniques to change a foods composition significantly. For example, when one manufacturer modified canola to produce increased levels of lauric and myristic acids in the seed oil, FDA agreed that the common or usual name for this oil would be laurate canola oil in order to distinguish it from traditional canola oil. Some vegetarians and individuals who follow religious dietary laws have told FDA that they want to know when animal genes are added to plants used as foods. FDA has taken no steps to accommodate their dietary beliefs and restrictions. What can you do as a consumer ? Look for soy products and ingredients like tofu, tempeh, miso, soy sauce, soymilk that are organic. All other soy ingredients are almost genetically manipulated and herbicide- treated.

The same is true for canola, corn, dairy products and potatoes. Look for organic corn, potato and dairy ingredients when you shop. It may be best to avoid canola altogether because it is rarely organic and is usually chemically treated. A recent experiment conducted by independent expert DR. Alpad Puszatai in the United Kingdom has shown that genetically manipulated foods can, when fed to animals in reasonable amounts, cause very gradual organ damage and immune system damage.

Conclusion Reading the label is an important part of shopping for a consumer. If consumers do not want to consume genetically manipulated foods, they can always contact the store managers and ask them to carry more organic foods in the store. Most of the time the food product manufacturers also pay attention to consumers feed back. Further, if one has questions or concerns about such issues, one can always contact a nutritionist who is aware and well informed of the pros and cons of Genetically Engineered Foods. Bibliography Bindslev-Jensen, C. (1998).

Allergy risks of genetically engineered foods. Allergy 53: 58-61. Cummins, R. & Lilliston, B. News and Analysis on Genetic Engineering, Factory Farming & Organics. Cummins, R. Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods and Crops: Why we need a Global Moratorium. Fagan, J.B. Assessing the Safety and Nutritional Quality of Genetically Engineered Foods. Malcom, A. D.

(1999). Health Risks of Genetically Modified Foods. Lancet 354: 69-72.


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