Modification of genes of the organisms has been used in the food industry over the long period. Genetically modified (GM) foods are those that are produced with the help of genetic engineering. Such foods are created from organisms with changed DNA. Quick expansion of GM foods has raised many concerns about food safety worldwide (Goldbas 20). As there is lack of research on the effects of growing of GM crops and consumption of GM foods on human health and environment and there are no strict laws regulating the legislation and labeling of GM products, such type of foods raise many concerns and should be banned till those concerns are debunked by strong evidence.
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Lack of Scientific Evidence on the Safety of GM Foods
The claims of GM foods producers about the abundance of scientific evidence on the safety of such products are false and not well-grounded. In fact, the opinions of scientists and the results of various studies show that there is no scientific consensus on GM food safety. As the absence of potential harm GM foods can cause is not proved, they should be banned till the appropriate scientific evidence of their safety is found.
The companies producing GMO foods claim that the safety of such foods is proved, and there is no debate over the issue. However, such statement can be easily disposed of, as many scientists express their concerns about GMO foods and conduct appropriate studies showing their danger. Therefore, there is no scientific consensus on GMO safety (Hilbeck et al. 1). In fact, there is the equilibrium in the number of studies proving the safety of GM crops and plants and disposing of it. Besides, the studies presenting the evidence of GM foods safety are mostly conducted and sponsored by the companies, which are involved in the food industry and are interested in the expansion of GMO. On the contrary, the studies presenting evidence of GMO foods danger based on the research on GM-fed animals, are intentionally hidden from the wide publicity and are not followed by further research.
The producers of GM foods usually claim that the safety of such products can be proved by the long experience of the US population consuming them. However, no epidemiological study has been conducted to prove the absence of health effects caused by the consumption of GM food by Americans (Hilbeck et al. 2). Moreover, the possibility of conducting such study is very low, as there is no labeling of GM foods in the country.
Many studies on GMO foods are presented by the companies interested in proving the safety of such food so that the populations think they can be regarded as the ultimate scientific evidence on absence of danger of GM crops and plants. However, most of these studies do not provide appropriate evidence. In fact, many of them have proved neither the safety of GM foods nor their potential harm to human beings. Besides, many studies are intentionally limited in time, so that potential negative effects of the investigated products cannot be observed during the research because of the short period devoted to the examination of the health status of the tested animals. One of the examples of presenting misleading information about the scientific studies on GM foods is considering EU research project as providing evidence for GM foods safety (Hilbeck et al. 3). Indeed, the aim of the project was to create safety assessment methods. It did not test any of GMO foods for safety. Such cases of presenting false information about the studies on GM foods safety are common and create the false understanding of the scientific background to regarding such food as safe.
Lack of scientific evidence is also typical for issues related to the environmental safety of GM crops. Besides, scientists claiming that GM crops do not put any threat to the environment often belong to the group of researchers with industry funding and experience in molecular biology.
Concerns about the Health Effects of GM Foods
One of the major concerns about the safety of GM foods is related to the effects they can have on the health of human beings. Therefore, till the short-term and long-term effects of the consumption of GM foods on human health and the health of the next generations are not fully discovered, such products should be banned.
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Some of the facts speak against the safety of GM foods regarding the human health. Many Americans died or were harmed after the consumption of genetically altered version of food supplement in 1989 (Khan et al. 7). Many Brazilians experienced severe allergic reactions leading to anaphylactic shock after consuming genetically modified soybeans in 1996 (Khan et al. 7). Though genetically produced growth hormone, known as rBGH, is related to increasing the hormone responsible for provoking cancer, it is still widely used in the United States. This growth hormone is injected into dairy cows though pasteurization of milk is not able to eliminate the dangerous hormone leading to breast, prostate, and colon cancer (Khan et al. 7). Besides, GM foods appear to have lack of nutrition value, be able to appear in the resulting products (meat and milk) if fed to animals, and affect the animals’ health (Khan et al. 8).
Besides the mentioned facts proving the visible negative effects of GM foods on human health, there is a big concern about the long-term effects of consumption of GM foods on human beings, the changes of the structure of their genes in particular. The lack of knowledge about the impact of GM foods on human genes and evolution can be regarded as one of the most disturbing issues about this type of products. If the GM materials appear in the resulting products if fed to animals, there are high chances that the same mechanism works with humans. Nobody knows which effects the consumption of GM foods can have on the next generations of people and how it will change the structure of human genes.
Concerns about GM Foods Legislation
Unfortunately, the system of regulating the GM foods in the United States can be considered insufficient. Therefore, banning the GM foods appears to be a good solution till appropriate laws on their legislation and labeling are created.
Ensuring the safety of products is left to government institutions. In the case of GM foods, the official institutions in the US appear to be rather tolerable while dealing with the values that should govern the risk assessment of new GM products appearing on the market. Assessing the risks of GM foods is left to government and industry experts, who seem to be involved in the process of propagating GMOs as a healthy alternative to natural products and are often supported by the companies producing GM crops and plants. Unfortunately, the society has very low chances to influence the decisions on GM foods legislation (Meghani 125).
Though many countries all over the world have laws requiring the labeling of the products containing GM materials, the United States does not have any regulations on GMOs labeling. Though the issue of labeling GM foods has been raised numerous times, the government refused to pass appropriate laws ensuring the necessity of marking the GM products. Such situation contradicts the norms of democratic society and human rights, as every person has the right to know how the product he/she buys was produced.
Opponents of the banning of GM foods state that such foods have the potential for ending hunger and helping the poorest (Daunert et al. 327). However, there is no evidence of the absence of negative impact of GM crops on the environment. Therefore, as nobody knows which long-term effects the growing of GM crops has on the environment, it is not possible to state that such process will not cause environmental problems that can lead to problems with water or natural food. Therefore, the claim about GM foods overcoming the hunger is quite controversial.
Some scientists claim that there is no evidence on the allergic reactions caused by the consumption of GM foods. They claim that “nonallergenicity” of GM foods should be demonstrated to the general public (Bachas-Daunert and Deo 345). However, the mentioned case with soybeans in Brazil contradicts such claims.
Some people claim that GM foods should be treated as natural. Miller and Kershen claim that the use of genetic engineering does not make the food less healthy or safe (2). However, the evidence on the lower level of nutrient elements contained in GM foods contradicts this claim. Besides, there is no strong evidence on the absence of negative effects of GM products on human health.
The analysis of major concerns about the effects of GM foods on human health and environment helps to reveal that there is no evidence debunking them. Therefore, due to the lack of information proving the safety of GM foods, they should be banned.
Bachas-Daunert, Stephanie, and Sapna Deo. “Should Genetically Modified Foods Be Abandoned on the Basis of Allergenicity?” Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 392.3 (2008): 341-346. Print.
Daunert, Sylvia, Sapna Deo, Xenia Morin, and Aldo Roda. “The Genetically Modified Foods Debate: Demystifying the Controversy through Analytical Chemistry.” Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 392.3 (2008): 327-331. Print.
Goldbas, Abbie. “GMOs: What Are They?” International Journal of Childbirth Education 29.3 (2014): 20-24. Print.
Hilbeck, Angelika, Rosa Binimelis, Nicolas Defarge, Ricarda Steinbrecher, András Székács, Fern Wickson, Michael Antoniou, Philip Bereano, Ethel Ann Clark, Michael Hansen, Eva Novotny, Jack Heinemann, Hartmut Meyer, Vandana Shiva, and Brian Wynne. “No Scientific Consensus on GMO Safety.” Environmental Sciences Europe 27.4 (2015): 1-6. Print.
Khan, Shaista Jabeen, Shafique Muafia, Zahida Nasreen, and Abdul Majeed Salariya. “Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): Food Security or Threat to Food Safety.” Pakistan Journal of Science 64.2 (2012): 6-12. Print.
Meghani, Zahra. “The US’ Food and Drug Administration, Normativity of Risk Assessment, GMOs, and American Democracy.” Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 22.2 (2009): 125-139. Print.
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Miller, Henry, and Drew Kershen. “Concerns about Federal GMO Food Legislation.” Regulation 38.1 (2015): 2-3. Print.