Are GMOs Safe?

Once upon a time, I had dreamed of becoming a Genetic Engineer because I thought I will help create a better world by understanding DNA. DNA has long fascinated me–sans the actual science. Never really understanding the ecological and human health implications of GMOs until I became a professional and transitioning towards more conscious lifestyle decisions, beginning with what I eat. Sad to say, most produce grown through the monocropping grid are GMOs and here in the Philippines, there are so many hybrids and GMOs out in the market. The largest GMO company in the world, Monsanto has a big representation in the land I call home making me question the safety of what we are eating. So are GMOs safe? Here’s my case.

Man is the most ingenious species in the planet, with each problem and threat to the species, it meets with creative solutions. One of the most pressing challenge is how to safeguard food security for the ever increasing food demands of the continuously rising global population. To meet the challenge, man ambitiously created the technology allowing gene modification. One of man’s most drastic solutions to the challenge is Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) or Genenetically Engineered Organisms (GE). GMOs allow plants to express and actualize gene traits that are normally not inherent to their particular species for the sole purpose of high crop yield and resistance to pesticides and herbicides.

Over the years—without long-term safety studies–man consumed hybrid rice and corn, tomatoes resistant to frost courtesy of a flounder (fish) gene, pesticide-resistant soy, potatoes, among others. These crops made its way to grocery shelves and produce aisle in bags of chips, soy sauce, ketchup, tofu, flour and much more. Large food and GMO seed corporations and their several scientists claim GMOs are safe yet current studies show this is not the case. Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM (Genetically Modified) foods.

According to renowned doctors and biologists, GMO contributes to deteriorating health worldwide. And the findings of the studies include the following:

AT RISK: Pregnant women and babies – GM soy were fed to female rats and most of their babies died. In the same study, the group of female rats fed natural soy, only 10% died. GM-fed babies are smaller and are likely infertile. Male rats fed with GM have blue testicles compared to the normal pink color plus their young sperm is altered. In India, most buffalos who consumed GM cottonseed had reproductive complications such as premature deliveries, infertility, abortions plus many of the calves died.

GMOs produce poisonous food – GM corn and cotton are designed and made with built-in pesticide called Bt-Toxin produced by Bacillus thuringiensis. When bugs eat the plant, the pesticide splits open their stomachs and eventually kills them. The Bt-Toxin produced by GMOs are at least thousands of times more potent than the toxin levels in natural Bt-Toxin sprays used by organic and sustainable farmers. Since organic farmers use this, the GM companies assumed this is safe however, Bt-Toxin from GMOs have properties of an allergen due to increased toxicity levels and cannot be washed off from the plant. Flu-like symptoms have been reported by the exposed farming population in the US and India. The insecticidal proteins from Bt-Toxin was found in the blood of 93% of the 63 pregnant women plus 80% of the fetal blood samples

GMOs incite allergic reactions – right after the introduction of GM soy to UK, soy allergies increased to 50%. GM soy and corn contain new proteins that have allergenic properties. GM soy has at least seven times more allergens than natural soy. Perhaps the asthma and food allergies epidemic is caused by genetic modification.

Large numbers of animals die – In India, massive numbers of animals who graze GM cotton fields die, including sheep. Also, deaths of many cows in Germany and chickens, carabaos, and horses in the Philippines died after grazing fields and consumption of Bt corn.

GMOs remain in residence in the gut – the only human feeding study confirms that even long-after humans stop consuming GMOs, GM proteins are produced inside the gut. The inserted genes into GM soy are transferred to the gut bacteria which becomes a living pesticide factory.

More studies are published indicating a myriad of health risks and deaths concerning GMOs. It is also documented that animals fed with GMOs incur damage to the kidneys and liver, cause accelerated aging, deregulation of genes associated with synthesis of cholesterol, gastrointestinal and insulin regulation disruption. A growing number of doctors dissuade their patients from eating GM foods or any food product with GMO. One of which is Dr. John Boyles who mentioned, “I used to test for soy allergies all the time, but now that soy is genetically engineered, it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it.

The question remains, “How do I avoid GM foods when it’s everywhere?”. First off, it is important to memorize the well-known and often used GM crops and their derivatives:

  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Canola
  • Cottonseed
  • Alfalfa
  • Sugar derived from sugar beets
  • Zucchini
  • Crookneck squash

The Non-GMO Shoppers’ Guide helps consumers to avoid GM foods in the grocery or supermarket. Also, buying organic produce significantly reduces the risk of consuming GMOs. Apart from alarming health risks GM foods pose, it endangers our food security as it contaminates the plant world gene pool and dampens its natural diversity. It is one of the most significant threats to the sustainability of the human race and avoiding GMOs is a step forward to changing the fate of mankind’s food supply.

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