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There have been numerous criticisms leveled at genetically modified produce and it is important that we as the consumer are informed about the possible drawbacks of a product.
Changing plants may have lasting effects on other organisms in the ecosystem. The change in a plant may cause it to be toxic to an insect or animal that uses it as its main food source.
Due to the widespread use of insect resistant genes in crops the insects may become resistant to the genetic modifications. This would cause a widespread loss of crops and plants that have the natural immunity leading to a loss in biodiversity.
Breeding and cross pollination across unintended species could occur resulting in things such as insect resistant weeds.
Cross pollination can also occur across crops that are not genetically modified leading to lawsuits about who owns the GM technology and seed. The same thing can happen between organic crops and genetically modified crops making it difficult to maintain an organic status.
A huge concern is that genetic modification could cause allergies in humans due to gene modification of plants. People may find that they are now allergic to other food products - people because they contain a gene from the allergen they have. One example is the use of a Brazilian nut gene in corn.
Some studies have shown that it may affect the human digestive system in a number of ways. The incorporation of substances that may interact badly with one another in food or in fact be poisonous to people may happen. The modification of certain genes may make some plant substances difficult to digest at all.
A major economical concern is that the control of world food sources may be limited to large companies because they own the GM seeds and have the money to start and finish the accreditation process.
Genetic modification can also make it difficult to know what you are eating, as a plant could contain animals products via genetic engineering. This could cause issues for those with dietary restrictions and religious commitments.
The only feeding study done with humans showed that GMOs survived inside the stomach of the people eating GMO food. No follow-up studies were done.
Various feeding studies in animals have resulted in potentially pre-cancerous
Damaged immune systems,
Smaller brains, livers, testicles,
Increased density of the liver,
Odd shaped cell nuclei
False pregnancies and higher death rates.
Milk from rBGH-treated cows contains an increased amount of the hormone IGF-1, which is one of the highest risk factors associated with breast and prostate cancer, but no one is tracking this in relation to cancer rates.
The techniques used to transfer genes have a very low success rate, so the genetic engineers attach "marker genes" that are resistant to antibiotics to help them to find out which cells have taken up the new DNA. That way scientist can then douse the experimental GMO in antibiotics and if it lives, they have successful altered the genes. The marker genes are resistant to antibiotics that are commonly used in human and veterinary medicine. Some scientists believe that eating GE food containing these marker genes could encourage gut bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance.
The biotech industry says that millions have been eating GM foods without ill effect. This is misleading. No one monitors human health impacts of GM foods.
What kind of information did the companies provide?
Calgene, the makers of the first GM crop, the FlavrSavr tomato, was the only company to submit detailed raw data from animal feeding studies to the FDA. The rest provide only summaries and conclusions. Industry research can be rigged; data often is omitted or distorted.
All over the world, regions and even nations are demanding an end to GM crop cultivation. Twenty-two countries in Europe have regions wanting to be GM-free. States in Australia, regions in New Zealand and Brazil, the countries of Venezuela, Zambia, Sudan, Angola, and others, all want to be GM-free. Thus, world markets are shrinking.
In 2009, Germany joined France, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Austria, Poland and Romania in banning Monsanto's Mon 810 GM corn because of its documented hazards to biodiversity and human health. In 2007 over three million Italians signed a petition, declaring their opposition to GM crops in their country. In Europe over 175 regions and over 4,500 municipalities have declared themselves GM-free zones. In Spain alone this includes over 50 municipalities and regions like Asturias, the Canary Islands and the Basque country.
Europe has greater rejection of GMOs due to a more balanced reporting by their press on the health and environmental dangers. In Europe, at least 174 regions, more than 4,500 councils and local governments have declared themselves GM free.
It is now possible for plants to be engineered with genes taken from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Scientists have worked on some interesting combinations:
Spider genes were inserted into goat DNA, in hopes that the goat milk would contain spider web protein for use in bulletproof vests.
Cow genes turned pigskins into cowhides.
Jellyfish genes lit up pigs' noses in the dark.
Arctic fish genes gave tomatoes and strawberries tolerance to frost.
Potatoes that glowed in the dark when they needed watering.
Human genes were inserted into corn to produce spermicide.
Current field trials include:
Corn engineered with human genes (Dow)
Sugarcane engineered with human genes (Hawaii Agriculture Research Center)
Corn engineered with jellyfish genes (Stanford University)
Tobacco engineered with lettuce genes (University of Hawaii)
Rice engineered with human genes (Applied Phytologics)
Corn engineered with hepatitis virus genes (Prodigene)