THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF
GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS

   
 

There is very little published research on the health effects of GMOs. In 2000, a reviewer found precisely 6 (six) papers investigating health effects.

One of these was the famous paper by Arpad Pusztai, who found that GM potatoes carrying the Bt insecticide caused marked adverse changes in the guts of rats. Pusztai was crucified by the scientific community for going public with his results, instead of quietly and slowly publishing them in peer reviewed journals. The scientific response to Pusztai's work should have been to try to reproduce it in other labs, but instead we were treated to an hysterical chorus of condemnation. This was a political rather than a scientific response.

The GM community of scientists evidently feel no need to soil their hands with actual experiments, because they have the doctrine of "Substantial Equivalence" to shelter behind. This ill defined teaching states that since GM and natural foods look pretty much the same, they must have the same nutritional and medical value, so why bother to spend time and money looking for differences? It is amazing that "scientists" can swallow such factitious rubbish when it suits them. Similarly, the New Scientist carried an editorial a few years back, reasserting the untruth that there is no difference between genetic manipulation and classical plant breeding techniques.

Despite the paucity of research, there are some known adverse health effects of GMOs. A molecule associated with Brazil nut allergy was found in Soya that had been injected with a Brazil nut gene. It had to be withdrawn. In a second case, an allergenic molecule was found in Bt corn. It was banned from the human food chain, and designated as animal feed. However, some Arfur Daley type must have had other ideas, because it later turned up in taco snacks.

There are other health concerns, namely that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are tagged with antibiotics to act as a marker that the modification has been installed. The minute traces of antibiotics in GM foods may add to the problems of bacterial resistance and human allergy to antibiotics.

In an audit, York Nutritional Laboratories have noticed a significant surge in cases of people with IgG based intolerance to soya products. This raises the question of whether their findings reflect a change in the quantity of soya consumed over that time, or a change in the quality of the soya.

In the final analysis, we will only be able to tell whether there are health risks from GM foods when we compare the health of GM-eating populations with that of groups who do not eat GM (that's us). However, if we do not get clear labelling and complete separation of GM foods, we will never be able to find the GM free control group. So our demands for labelling are not just in the name of civil liberty - they are also for the sake of medical knowledge. And our demand for the banning of GMO's as a commercial crop in the environment (as opposed to GMOs in hermetically sealed systems producing insulin and other useful products) is not just for the sake of the butterflies and bees - it is for the sake of our children.

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© 2001 R. Lawson This page was last updated on 22.3.03