The authors review the current debate on genetically modified products (GMOs) and the health risks of eating GMO products and using them for animal feed. Currently, there are no epidemiologic studies to show that these products are safe. Studies cannot be done because of the lack of labeling in North and South America where 97% of GMOs are grown. Current GMOs include soy, corn, oilseed rape (canola,) etc.
The products are modified genetically to tolerate and/or produce pesticides. Roundup is the most common pesticide. Bt insecticide toxins come from GM plants. Both Bt insecticide and Roundup leave metabolites in the plants. The long term results of the residues have not been tested scientifically. Limited testing has shown mutations leading to abnormal amino acids and proteins in the plants. More studies have not been done and are needed.
Most of the studies available are only 90 day feeding studies of modified corn or soy to mice obtained from the companies making the GMOs. The records were obtained by court order since such information has been kept secret. The studies concentrated on liver and kidney, which are not of primary concern in GMO products.
The current rules of risk assessment depend on the idea of “substantial equivalence.” The FDA defines this as follows: “In most cases the substances expected to become components of food as a result of genetic modification will be the same as or substantially similar to substances commonly found in food such as proteins, fats and oils, and carbohydrates.” The authors believe this definition is inadequate when genetic material is involved.
Monsanto’s test interpretations have been accepted in spite of the studies involving too few animals over a short period of time. In some studies there were four times as many controls as there were test animals, which could hide negative results. Uniform diets were not given to all the animals. There was too little variety in the species of animals tested. The test was only done once for each GMO. The longest study was only 90 days, not long enough to show chronic results. No multi-generational studies were done.
In one study the weight of male hearts increased by 11%. In another study the female triglyceride levels increased. Repeat studies were not done. “Normal range” was not defined in the studies. Monsanto ignored abnormalities that were not seen in both sexes. This is not acceptable since GMO abnormalities are mainly endocrines and gender related. Monsanto did not test long enough to see whether endocrine and gender related cancers developed. Monsanto did not accept dose-dependent abnormalities. Pathologic slides are considered private by Monsanto. Monsanto ignored the development of “chronic progressive nephropathy” in young rats from a breed that usually develops this problem only in old age.
Testing outside Monsanto found microscopic liver changes in mice which had eaten Roundup-tolerant GMOs. Other studies showed changes in immune response to eating GMOs. (In a similar vein, industry sponsored studies never showed abnormalities to the notorious Bisphenol A. But, 90% of government funded studies showed serious problems with Bisphenol A.)
CONCLUSION: GMO industry studies of genetically modified products are poorly designed. The author points out many defects in the industry’s interpretation of the studies. Some of the products have been shown by non-industry studies to have endocrine effects. These products must be studied more carefully before they are released for worldwide use.
NOTE: Arsi, A., et al, wrote an article connecting the possibility that the current increase in endometriosis could be due to consuming genetically modified foods (PMID: 21111655.) This article lists these foods as containing chemicals which act as immune toxicants, pro-oxidants, endocrine dysruptors and epigenetic modulators. An article from Norway discusses the sustainablility of GMOs.
An article by Link, A., et el, lists dietary elements which can reverse the risks to health caused by genetically modified foods. Dig1 is an herbal combination that protects the liver cells from the toxicity of Roundup. Read about the presence of Bisphenol in our packaged foods.
Read more about the importance of labeling GMOs.
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