Genetically Modified Organisms
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) consist of crops and animals that have been altered genetically by combining one or more gene from another species in order to create a “resistance to insecticides, herbicides or pesticides, enhance drought tolerance, encourage higher yields or promote the ability to plant more in a smaller area.” (Organic Valley, 2010)
Common foods that have been genetically altered include but are not limited to: cottonseed oil, soybean oil, soy protein, high fructose corn syrup, canola oils and corn oil. “GMO’s are also used in feed used for various animals and farm raised fish, thus giving us meat products, dairy, fish and eggs that are considered to be GMO’s.” (Love To Know, 2009)
“Foods produced through modern biotechnology can be categorized as:
1. Foods consisting of or containing living/viable organisms (eg, corn).
2. Foods derived from or containing ingredients derived from genetic modification (eg, corn meal containing protein or oil from genetically modified soybeans).
3. Foods containing single ingredients or additives produced by genetically modified microorganisms (eg, colors, vitamins, or essential amino acids).
4. Foods containing ingredients processed by enzymes produced through genetically modified microorganisms (eg, high-fructose corn syrup produced from starch using the enzyme glucose isomerase [a product of genetic modification], or cheese produced using the enzyme chymoson [a genetically modified equivalent of rennet].”
(Eat Right - American Dietetic Asscociation, 2006)
Concerns of GMO’s in the human diets vary. In infants and young toddlers the census seems to be of great concern as the GI tract is not fully developed leaving youngsters susceptible to any toxins being used in the process of GMO production. Young children are susceptible to allergies than adults and have a higher risk factor to related food allergy deaths. According to the EPA, “is that an immature gut or permeable mucosal epithelium is more likely to allow a higher degree of macromolecular transport and access to the immune system than the intact barrier of a normal mature gut. The immune system must also be of sufficient maturity. Both systems appear to be functioning optimally by age three to five.” (Safbaby.com, 2008) However, when it comes to adults and the elderly the controversy shifts to studies just have not run long enough to bring total security to the human consumption of these products. However, “The US National Research Council determined that there is no difference in risk when crops are modified through modern molecular techniques when compared with those modified by conventional breeding. In a 2003 position paper, the Society of Toxicology concurred, noting that there is no reason to suppose that the process of food production through biotechnology leads to risks of a different nature than those produced in conventional breeding. An extensive review of the health and food products of animals fed genetically modified feedstuff found no difference between animals fed transformed plants compared with animals fed the control or isogenic plants.” (Eat Right - American Dietetic Asscociation, 2006)
All in all, I think this controversy will go on for a very long time, as it will take years to tell if there really is or isn’t any adverse affects. Until that time I believe that this will have to be an individual choice based on an individual’s risk preference.
Eat Right - American Dietetic Asscociation. (2006, February). Position of the American Dietetic Association:. Retrieved October 16, 2010, from Eat Right - American Dietetic Asscociation: http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8359
Love To Know. (2009, September 2). Which Foods Have GMO's. Retrieved October 16, 2010, from Love To Know: http://organic.lovetoknow.com/Which_Foods_Have_GMOs
Organic Valley. (2010). Genetically Engineered Crops (GMOs). Retrieved October 16, 2010, from Organic Valley: http://www.organicvalley.coop/why-organic/gmos/?gclid=COS3lPLD2KQCFQoBbAodn1pBLw
Safbaby.com. (2008, November 3). Why Babies and Children are Most Vulnerable to GMO. Retrieved October 16, 2010, from Safbaby.com: http://www.safbaby.com/part-2-why-babies-and-children-are-most-vulnerable-to-gmo