Are Genetically Modified Foods Poisoning Us?
Those on both sides of the GMO debate have hotly contested this issue. There have been thousands of studies done on the subject.
One such study was done by Dr. Gilles- Eric Seralini of Caen University Normandy in Caen, France which was published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal. In the study he determined that rats fed GMO food developed tumors. In addition to the scientific findings, Seralini’s study concluded: “we propose that agricultural edible GMOs and complete pesticide formulations must be evaluated thoroughly in long-term studies to measure their potential toxic effects.” In other words, there needs to be more research.
The study was later retracted by the editors of the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal. The results of the study were displayed on the Science Direct website with a disclaimer which listed the results as being “inconclusive” and expressed “concern” because they thought the test pool of research animals was too small. The study was “heavily criticized” by those who think genetically modified food is safe. Dr. Seralini however, stands behind his research and has since re-published his study in another journal, Environmental Sciences Europe.
On the other side of this debate lies Monsanto, who Scientific American journal described in an article published nearly twenty years ago. The article said: “the agrochemical giant has developed a line of seeds that are resistant to its multi-billion dollar a year herbicide, Roundup, and carry a gene from a soil bacterium called Baccillus thuringiensis. The organism produces a toxin that makes plants the last repast of common insect pests.”
Monsanto is one of the world’s largest producers of genetically modified seeds. They insist GMO foods are safe and pose no health risk to humans. They reference several studies which paint genetically modified food in a positive light. However, not everyone agrees. Monsanto itself has been heavily criticized by those who are against genetically modified foods.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, a doctor who advocates a healthy, natural lifestyle has written extensively about the subject. In addition to his many articles, he published an e-book about genetically modified food and has appeared on PBS television. On his website, he referenced an article by Thierry Vrain, a retired research scientist for Agriculture Canada, and former proponent of genetically modified foods.
“It was Vrain's job to address public groups and reassure them that GM crops and food were safe, a task he did with considerable knowledge and passion,” said Mercola. “But Vrain, who once touted GM crops as a technological advancement indicative of sound science and progress, has since started to acknowledge the steady flow of research coming from prestigious labs and published in high-impact journals - research showing that there is significant reason for concern about GM crops – and he has now changed his position.” So in other words, the retired research scientist who was once for GMOs is now against them.
Just what are genetically modified foods? Dr. Mercola quoted Vrain who said: “genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or genetically “engineered” (GE) foods, are live organisms whose genetic components have been artificially manipulated in a laboratory setting through creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and even viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.” They are basically scientifically altered foods.
In the full-text version of his article, Vrain said: “I refute the claims of the biotechnology companies that their engineered crops yield more, that they require less pesticide applications, that they have no impact on the environment and of course that they are safe to eat.”
Some scientists worry genetically engineered crops, seeds and food could cause tumors, cancer and other significant health problems. They worry about the safety of these relatively new foods and think there should be more oversight.
Mercola said “there is no safety monitoring. Meaning, once the GM item in question has been approved, not a single country on Earth is actively monitoring and tracking reports of potential health effects…”
That’s a concern. It’s a concern that some say poses significant risk if left unchecked. Some are afraid of being “human guinea pigs” and refuse to eat this food. That is, if they can avoid it, because it seems to be everywhere these days.
Whatever the case, the safety of such food remains to be seen. Some consumers remain very leery of such products. Some think scientists shouldn’t “play God” and tamper with the DNA structure of food and seeds in labs. They point out how that same food has been growing on earth for thousands of years, unadulterated.
How do you avoid such foods? They only way to truly avoid consuming genetically altered food is to eat organic foods or those grown in your own pesticide-free garden using non-GMO seeds.
Many are concerned with the safety of these new GMO foods, seeds and crops. That might explain why sales of organic food have skyrocketed in recent years. In a statement from the Organic Trade Organization, “sales of organic food and non-food products in the United States broke through another record in 2014, totaling $39.1 billion, up 11.3 percent from the previous year.”