Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are those plants or microorganisms whose genome have been altered to differ from the naturally occurring genetic materials. GMO foods are synthesized from these genetically modified organisms whose DNA is altered mostly through the introduction of a new gene from another organism. These alterations are done to achieve desired traits like size, color, shelf-life, etc, in the products. However, there are concerns about the hazards that these food products possess.
Here are some of the health hazards of GMO foods:
- Food Allergy
Human body generates an immune response when protein enters the body. These responses of human body are termed as allergic reactions. They may occur when a protein enters the body through a genetically modified food. These GM foods may have been prepared from a source that invokes allergic reactions in humans. Since, these sources may have sometimes never been consumed, the probability of them inducing allergies increases considerably.
- Altered Genes Survive Digestion
In 2012, a study conducted in China showed that the micro-RNA consumed from the plant materials sustains digestion and affects functioning of cells. Consequently, the human DNA is able to code for the micro-RNA from plants. These causes cancer and diabetics.
- Health Concerns for animals
A research conducted by Russian Academy of Sciences showed that GM foods also have adverse effects on animals too. The study conducted showed that higher mortality rate was observed for baby rats whose parents have consumed genetically modified Soy. Out of the surviving baby rats, most of them displayed reduced growth.
- Out Crossing
World Health Organization pointed out the risk of out crossing when it found traces of GM corn in non-genetically modified corn in US market. These GM corn were approved for consumption of livestock whereas non GM corn were intended for human consumption. These occurred when the GM genes got transferred to the conventional genes of the cultivated crops through wind and insects.
- High level of herbicides
Scientists claim that some GM crops are resistant to herbicides. These sometimes causes the farmers to use herbicides more freely. Some GM crops even produce their own herbicides. All these increase the herbicide level in our food.
- Risk to non-target organisms
A research shows that with the GM corn crops causes high mortality rate of Monarch butterflies. The genetically modified crops are immuned to weed killers. These causes an increased amount of weed killers in the cultivated lands. Consequently, this caused a decreased level of milkweeds that the caterpillars of Monarch butterflies feed on. These caused a decrease in the level of these butterfly population.
- Uncontrolled biological pollution
Center for Food Safety declared that the rampant usage of genetically modified crops and seeds may cause some species of plants and microbial organisms to extinct. It may also infect non genetic crops with potentially harmful genomes. For example, Canola, a genetically altered organism, is getting spread through birds that feed on fields of GM crops and then they deliver the fertilized seeds of Canola to another field.
While this branch of bio-technology is in its early stage, the usage of GM foods cause health and environmental hazards which the consumers may consider before consuming these foods. Make sure that the food you eat or supplements you drink does not contain ingredients that are genetically modified. These can be identified easily by reading the food labels.