GMO health risks are what everyone is talking about nowadays. All the rumors on the risks of GMOs are bound to make you question the FDA’s decision to make them available for public consumption. We gathered the most talked-about GMO health risks and researched their origins to give you an objective idea on whether the risks of GMOs truly are as severe as portrayed by the media or not.
Here’s what we found:
GMO Health Risks & How Likely They Are
Before diving into the risks of GMOs that can affect us we must state that, although extensive testing is conducted on GMOs before they are declared fit for commercial use, these mainly refer to their stability and viability as crops.
Of course, toxicity and other variables are measured and taken into account when approving or rejecting a batch and most of them are tested on rats, but no human clinical trials are conducted before releasing a new GMO product on the market.
Commonly Accepted Health Risks of GMO Foods
Health risks of Genetically Modified Foods that are likely to affect you:
Out of the most publicized GMO risks, toxicity seems to be the most likely.
However, this term is widely misunderstood, just like the evidence that shows toxic substances in GMOs. Almost every plant, vegetable, or fruit we consume has developed a mechanism to fight against pests, so certain toxin levels are normal in foods and do not endanger our health.
Be that as it may, unpredictable outcomes in genetic engineering are still common. Some doctors and scientists have expressed their concern on the fact that foreign genes can determine the new plant to increase the amount of toxins it produces. This is plausible since foreign genetic material can destroy certain genes in the receiving plant or inhibit the activity of certain cellular components and produce metabolic imbalances.
The truth is, GMOs are subjected to the same tests and studies as traditional agricultural products – which make the toxic risks of GMOs comparable to those of organic or non-GMO products.
Food allergies are a serious health threat, but can they be one of the effects of GMO foods?
These amplified immune responses to harmless proteins affect 2% of adults and 5% of children in America. Allergens can be found in natural form in many vegetables, fruits, or animal products: strawberries and seafood are just two popular examples. Therefore, they are likely to be found in GMOs, right? Well, it can happen, but not as often as you might think – and definitely not as often as in non-GMO products.
No allergic reactions to GMOs have been observed, but this doesn’t mean much since GMO harmful effects have not been officially registered. What should give us some composure is the fact that biotechnology companies discontinue the development of allergenic GMOs if they find IV evidence of allergens. Unlike traditional crops, GMOs are tested for allergens – which also increases their safety for consumers who are prone to developing allergies.
However, an allergic response can still be one of the GMOs health risks if certain strains are taken from microorganisms or plants that are not part of our daily diet. Even though this practice is not as common, it can happen.
Horizontal Gene Transfer
Can the modification of our basic structure be one of the GMO effects on humans?
There is evidence plant DNA can be found in our bloodstream – which is peculiar, to say the least, since DNA molecules that are large enough to contain genes should not be able to travel from our digestive system into our blood, according to our knowledge and understanding of the human body.
However, we found no evidence these DNA molecules come from GMOs. After extensive reading on this subject, we concluded there is a slight possibility these could come from non-GMO or even organic products – although this does not seem likely since the process has never been observed before.
What is worrying about horizontal gene transfer and the GMO health risks, however, is the fact that DNA can be incorporated by microorganisms living in our body – be they beneficial bacteria found in our mouth and gut or microorganisms we are trying to get rid of. This leads us to another concerning matter of the 21st century:
Could the increasing number of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains be one of the health risks of GMOs?
The process through which microorganisms become antibiotic resistant is called natural mutation, but science found artificial ways to take advantage of it. Genetically engineering an organism is no easy task; Part of the process is introducing antibiotic-resistant markers, which contribute to the transformation process. In theory, some DNA strains containing such markers could survive the digestion process and be absorbed by bacteria living in our digestive track.
Even though the probability of transfer is extremely low, it should not be ignored – not when talking about antibiotic resistance, anyway.
Other Relevant Findings
Several studies conducted by seemingly independent research facilities demonstrated a series of other plausible GMO health risks:
Lower nutritional value because of nutrients being present, but impossible to process by our body is a way we can be deceived when shopping for groceries.
Several studies conducted by independent and seemingly unbiased research facilities showed that lab rats which were fed with GMO products developed one or more of the following:
- Liver problems (either increasing or decreasing volume);
- Kidney failure;
- A higher incidence of diseases;
- Infant mortality;
- Early death.
These all seem extremely serious GMO health risks and should not be ignored. However, the need for a long-term human clinical trial is needed to properly assert the health risks of GMO foods – and we fear this is exactly what’s happening as you read this and much on your salad, steak, or processed meal.