The Risks of GMO

Why Isn’t There More Research On the Health Effects Of GMO Crops

GMO is an abbreviation for “genetically modified organism.” Genetically modified organisms have the DNA from another species artificially inserted into their own DNA. The actual risks of GMO have been difficult to ascertain due to the fact that the United States government has allowed these types of genetic modifications to be patented by biotech companies like Monsanto. Therefore, in order for scientists to conduct research into the effects of GMO on the human body and in other animals, they must have explicit permission from the biotech companies who own the patent who of course aren’t that likely to give this permission to anyone who doesn’t report directly to them. This is one of the primary reasons that many people have protested the fact that biotech companies are allowed to patent DNA combinations between species.

GMO Corn Has More Deleterious Effects Than Herbicide

Having said the above, there have been a few studies conducted in Europe to access the risks of GMO foods. A French team of scientists recently studied the long-term effects of a genetically modified corn strain called NK603. This GMO strain of corn was developed to be resistant to Roundup, a commonly used crop herbicide. In this way, a farmer can spray heavy doses of Roundup on their crops to destroy the weeds without destroying the corn crop. Specifically, NK603 corn can be heavily sprayed with Roundup and still survive so there are actually two concerns in eating this corn. First, it is laced with far more than the average amount of the Roundup herbicide, a known poison. Second, the corn is a GMO variety. The French scientists tested the long-term effect of both the Roundup and the GMO corn on rats. They demonstrated that both have deleterious effects but the GMO corn had a much greater effect! Rats fed the GMO corn without any trace of Roundup developed large tumors and many died.

Anecdotal Evidence Of the Harmful Effects of GMO Crops

There have also been many anecdotal examples showing the risks of genetically modified foods. Many of these have come from the field of agriculture and from stories told by farmers feeding their livestock GMO feed. Pigs, cows, and chickens have all been shown to be susceptible to GMO, some showing extreme effects from eating GMO foods. For example, a GMO corn called Bt 176, patented by Syngenta, the biotech company, has been linked to thousands of cow and goat deaths in Germany and elsewhere. Bt 176 corn gets its name bacterial species whose DNA is inserted into the corn DNA, Bacillus thuringiensis. These Bacillus thuringiensis genes makes the corn produce its own insecticide so when humans or animals eat this corn, they are eating insecticide! Keep in mind that they are eating large quantities of insecticide, not just trace amounts we have, unfortunately, grown accustomed to eating. Here’s a rather famous anecdotal example of the harmful effects of GMO crops. Sheep feeding on Bt cotton in India have died in massive numbers! What is even worse is that other similar strains of corn, including Bt 11, are still available for human consumption!

What’s Happening In the United States Versus Other Countries?

Because of the potential risks of GMO, the European Union and other industrialized countries including Japan and Australia have banned GMO foods. However, in the United States, there is no federal law banning the sale of GMO foods nor has the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) taken any steps to stop the sale of GMO products. Many people suspect this is because several of the US Food and Drug Administration’s top officials used to work for Monsanto or other biotech companies. Since the federal government has banned the sale of GMO foods in the United States, there is currently a serious push in several states to ban GMO foods at the state level or at least label a food when they contain GMO ingredients so that consumers can make a conscious decision about whether or not to eat them.