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The Risks Of Genetically Modified Organisms

3973 words - 16 pages

What are Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)? A Genetically Modified Organism is an organism that has had its genetic material changed through the insertion of a foreign gene into it. Although GMOs have only been in use in the past twenty years, they constitute the majority of the American food supply. What is even more shocking is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently does not require safety testing for GMOs. In 1992, according to Mae-Wan Ho, director of the Institute of Science in Society and Science Advisor to the Third World Network, and Lim Li Ching, a researcher at the Institute of Science in Society and the deputy-editor of Science in Society magazine, the FDA decided that safety assessments for GMOs were unnecessary because they are an extension of conventional breeding (18). Instead there is a voluntary consultation process that the company producing a GMO can go through if they wish. Essentially, this means that the FDA has to show that there is something wrong with the GMO rather than the company proving that the GMO is safe before it can begin selling its product on the market. Genetically Modified Organisms present a possible health risk to people, have a potentially adverse effect on the environment, and their effects are not fully understood; therefore they should be put under strict regulation, testing, and supervision.
Genetically Modified Organisms have been shown to pose a health risk by being able to cause potential allergic reactions and also running the risk of toxically affecting the organs and systems of the human body. Jonathon Bernstein is an Associate Professor at the University of Cincinnati in the Department of Internal Medicine, Immunology, and Allergy. He explores the potential allergenicity of GMOs. Bernstein discusses the event in which StarLink corn, which was produced by Aventis Corporation, contaminated the human food supply in September 2000. StarLink corn was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strictly only when it was created for sale as feed for animals (1118). The primary reason that StarLink corn was approved was because it contained Cry9c, a protein from Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt), which was seen as far more stable in comparison to the other proteins derived from Bt (1118). What is most surprising about this case is that a food clearly labeled as animal feed was able to contaminate corn grown for human consumption and make it onto the shelves of grocery stores and into the human food supply. StarLink corn was clearly never approved by the EPA to be grown for human consumption. This failure of containment of GM corn shows how GMOs need to be strictly regulated and supervised after they are approved by a federal agency such as the EPA or FDA. The lack of testing, regulation, and supervision is evident once again after fifty-one reports of allergic reactions relating to the ingestion of StarLink corn were submitted to the Adverse Events Reporting Systems (AERS), an...

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