The debate over safety of genetically modified (GM) foods continues after 20 years. No human or animal epidemiologic studies have shown the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Most GMOs are grown in North and South America, where they are not even labeled. Most GMOs are resistant to Roundup herbicide and contain residues of insecticides, some of which are endocrine dysruptors*. Others GMOs contain Bt pesticide, which is produced by the plants.
Testing for the safety of GMOs on mammals is not compulsory, and tests to adequately assess possible outcomes of genetic modification on metabolism are unavailable. Most studies at this time are only 90-day feeding trials on rats by the GMO-producing companies, and the results can often be obtained only by court order and lawyers.
The rules for GMO risk assessment depend on the idea of “substantial equivalence”, meaning that the components of GM food are basically the same as usually found in food (proteins, fats, oils, and carbohydrates). Testing ignores the interactions between genes, is often done for an inadequate length of time (3 months), includes too few animals and species, and doesn’t include multi-generational studies of animals.
The test methods used by Monsanto are designed to minimize the chances of abnormalities appearing with GMO feeding. This is unacceptable for studying health risks of food designed to be used around the world.
Some of Monsanto’s feeding studies have shown such abnormalities as an 11% increase in heart weight in male rats and increased triglycerides of 40% in female rats. But, Monsanto refused to repeat the studies for a longer period of time and won’t supply materials so the studies can be repeated independently. Monsanto doesn’t accept abnormalities unless they appear in both sexes, an unacceptable approach since endocrine disturbances and some cancers are gender-related. Monsanto refused outside review of their histologic slides.
Few GMO studies have been done by groups independent of the GMO industry. However, structural abnormalities have been found in liver cells in animals eating Roundup-tolerant GMOs. GM insecticide-producing plants are suspected of causing gut and immune system abnormalities; yet, “No industry-funded studies suggest potential side effects of GMO consumption.” Monsanto’s GMO studies parallel the controversy over bisphenol A (BPA). No industry study shows adverse effects, while 90% of government funded studies show problems.
CONCLUSION: Inadequate safety test of GM products has been done, and safety of these products is not assured. More testing is needed before these products are released, including studies of animals for longer periods of time, intergenerational studies, and endocrine/reproductive studies.
NOTE: *Endocrine dysruptors are chemicals we are exposed to which interfere with the normal hormonal functions of our glands.
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