GMO foods are grown and produced from genetically modified seeds. Scientists have the ability to alter the function and growth of a plant through genetic engineering techniques. This results in plants that are able to be pest resistant, drought resistant, cold tolerant or herbicide tolerant. Unfortunately, that is not the only result of the DNA alterations. Researchers are also finding that there are significant disadvantages to the health of both humans and animals who consume GMO foods.
In an effort to improve the food supply to animals and humans, some researchers and scientists believe that short cuts may have been taken. According to a study published in “Nature” by John E. Losey, pollen from genetically altered corn caused high mortality rates in butterfly caterpillars. Toxins produced by the pollen of the genetically altered plants are designed to kill crop-damaging insects. Unfortunately, it also kills other harmless insects that play an important role in ecology. The long term effects of killing mass numbers of harmless insects cannot yet be determined.
Another concern that has been raised by scientists is the cross pollination of plants and weeds that could produce a "super-weed" tolerant to herbicides. Cross pollination can also occur between non-GMO crops and GMO crops planted in close proximity of each other, according to ProQuest. The amount of GMO foods sold in the supermarkets today is minimal but they are making their way into processed foods such as fortified cereals and breads. These gene transfers are creating concern that they may have an unexpected and negative impact on the health of those who eat them. The GMO foods are designed for short-term benefits to the production of plants, but the long-term hazards have not been evaluated.
Another disadvantage of GMO foods is the increased risk and potential of allergic reactions in individuals who already have food allergies. Introducing new DNA into a plant can produce a new protein allergen in susceptible individuals, according to ProQuest. For instance, a proposal to incorporate genes of Brazil nuts into soybeans was abandoned because of the expected allergic reactions of those who suffer from nut allergies. Extensive testing and labeling are required to reduce the potential for negative medical consequences.
In an effort to increase the food supply in the United Kingdom, a new GMO potato was developed that was resistant to insects. According to Dr. Al Sears, practicing physician in Florida, the potato released lectin, which is a natural insecticide found in beans and seeds. Unfortunately, the potato caused serious damage to the animals who ate it, destroying the immune system and developing pre-cancerous growths in the digestive tracts.
- corn image by Bosko Martinovic from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.