Dangers of Genetically Engineered Foods

Dangers of Genetically Engineered Foods
Proposed new food regulations will not protect the public from healthhazards-?????????????????????????????????Hundreds of genetically engineered foods, food additives andingredients that contain genes derived from animals, fish, insects,viruses, and bacteria will appear in New Zealand shops, unless thepublic voice their concerns about proposed government regulationswhich will allow their sale without labelling, even though manygenetic scientists say these foods will permanently damage yourhealth. Here?s how:Unpredictable mutation of the genetic blueprint of lifeGiven the huge complexity of genetic coding, even in very simpleorganisms such as bacteria, no one can possibly predict the effects ofintroducing new genes into any plant. Therefore there is no way ofknowing the overall, long-term effect on health. This is because:
the transposed gene may act differently when working within its
new host
the original genetic intelligence of the host will be disrupted
the new combination of the host genes and the transposed gene will
have unpredictable effects
Unnatural gene transfers from one species to another are dangerous Biotechnology companies erroneously claim that their manipulations are similar to natural genetic changes or traditional breeding. However, the cross-species transfers being made, such as between fish and tomatoes, or between other unrelated species, would not happen in nature and may create new toxins, diseases, and weaknesses. In this risky experiment, the general public is the guinea-pig. Biotechnology companies also claim their methods are precise. In fact, there is a random element in gene insertion methods. Genetic research shows that many weaknesses in plants, animals and humans have their origin in tiny imperfections in the genetic code. Therefore, side-effects and accidents are inevitable, and scientists have assessed the risks to be unlimited. (Refs: Palmiter, R.D. et al (1986) Annual Review of Genetics 20: 465; Inose, T. et al (1995) Int. Jour. Food Science Tech. 30:141.) Unpredictable health damaging effects and new diseases When genetic engineers insert a new gene into any organism there is a ?position effect? which entails an unpredictable pattern of genetic function. The protein product of the transposed gene may carry out unexpected reactions and produce toxic products. There is also serious concern about the dangers of using genetically engineered viruses as delivery vehicles (vectors) in the generation of transgenic plants and animals. This could destabilise the genome and lead to horizontal gene transfer to other species, including mammals. This may cause dangerous new diseases, resistance to antibiotics, and severe immune reactions. Genetic engineering also interferes with rna editing and molecular folding which may cause the formation of prion-based diseases similar to BSE_mad cow disease. (Refs: Green, A.E.et al (1994) Science 263:1423; Osbourn, J.K. et al (1990) Virology 179:921; Mae-Wan Ho (1996) Biology Dept., Open University.) Genetically engineered products carry more risks than traditional foods The process of genetic engineering can introduce dangerous new allergens and fatal toxins into foods that were previously naturally safe. Already, one genetically engineered soybean was found to cause severe allergic reactions, and bacteria genetically engineered to produce large amounts of the food supplement, tryptophan, have produced toxic contaminants that killed 37 people and permanently disabled 1,500 in usa. (Refs: Nordlee, J.A. et al (1996) The New England Journal of Medicine 688; Mayeno, A.N. et al (1994) Tibtech 12:364.) Health-damaging effects caused by genetic engineering will continue forever Unlike nuclear contamination, gene pollution can never be cleaned up; genetic mistakes are passed to all future generations of a species. Increased pollution of food and water supply It is estimated that about 57% of research by biotechnology companies is on the development of herbicide-resistant plants and that this will lead to increased use of herbicides, resulting in even higher concentrations of chemicals in food and in the water run-off from the land. (Ref: Goldberg, R.J. (1994) Weed Technology 6:647.) Ethical concerns about purity of food, misleading labelling, and animal wellbeing Transferring animal genes into plants and the use of animal genetic information in foods raises ethical issues for vegetarians and religious groups. For example, genetically manufactured copies of animal rennets are being used to make some cheeses which are then labelled as suitable for vegetarians. Many genetic research projects also involve animal experiments which are unacceptable to many people. Genetic transfer across species and competition from new species harms the environment When new genetic information is placed in plants, bacteria, or animals, it can easily cross into related organisms, through processes such as cross pollination. This has already created herbicide- and pest-resistant ?super weeds?. Existing species can also be displaced from the ecosystem with disastrous effects, as happened with genetically modified Klebsiella bacteria which destroyed soil fertility. Crops are now being genetically engineered to produce their own pesticides. This will promote the more rapid appearance of resistant insects and lead to destruction of useful insects and soil organisms, seriously disturbing the ecosystem. Also, the pesticide produced by the plant may be harmful to consumers. (Refs: Union of Concerned Scientists (1994) Gene Exchange, 5:68; Mikkelsen, T.R. et al (1996) Nature 380:31; Skogsmyr, I. (1994) Theoretical and Applied Genetics 88:770; Hama, H. et al (1992) Applied Entymology and Zoology 27:355.) Inadequate safety at research facilities In New Zealand, we should already be aware of the dangers of introducing exotic species to our environment. However, NZ research institutions and field test sites have little protection to ensure that experimental genetically engineered organisms are not escaping. For example, seeds can be blown by the wind over low fences or carried great distances by birds very quickly. It is not possible for anyone, any farm, or the country as a whole to isolate itself from the potentially disastrous effects of genetic manipulation unless a ban is imposed Proposed regulations for Australia and New Zealand are inadequate to safeguard health. The Australia New Zealand Food Authority (anzfa) has published a draft standard with proposals to regulate gene technology in food. Under these proposals many genetically engineered foods and all food additives will not be labelled. Therefore the public will not be able to continue to choose what they eat. The public only has until 3 April 1997 to make written submissions on the proposed regulations.

Dangers of Genetically Engineered Foods 9.4 of 10 on the basis of 1162 Review.