Geneticengineeringrisks

Potenetial risks of genetic engineering 2.

Without long-term studies, there is no way anyone could know what will happen to the environment from genetically engineered foods or to the health of the people who eat these foods in the future.

Nutrition

Genetic Engineering What Are the Potential Benefits/Risks? A Series

Rob McLean

The opponents of genetically engineered foods are most concerned about health, safety and the effect genetic engineering will have on our environment. Potential Benefits to You, Your Children, and Other Family Members.

There are some potential benefits of genetic engineering such as Hepatitis B vaccine and genetically engineered human insulin.

Genetic engineering in food production has made plants more drought and disease resistant as well as given foodstuffs better flavor and a longer shelf-life.

What’s wrong with that?

There are ethical concerns about creating novel organisms, of course. Over and above this, however, the opponents of genetically engineered foods are most concerned about health, safety and the effect genetic engineering will have on our environment.

Potential Risks to You, Your Children, and Your Grandchildren.

There have been no long-term studies for food safety or the impact on the environment for genetically engineered foods.

Without long-term studies, there is no way anyone could know what will happen to the environment from genetically engineered foods or to the health of the people who eat these foods in the future.

A few fears include:

  • Future pesticide and herbicide tolerance.
  • Inadvertent elevation of the toxicity levels of food toxins which occur in foods naturally.
  • Environmental damage due to cross-pollination.
  • Environmental damage from disturbing ecosystems.
  • Allergens: both increased allergens and the inability of people who are allergic to know what they are eating.

And there is this question: Who will give the facts to Americans if, indeed, genetically modified foods do prove to be dangerous after they are firmly ensconced in the food industry?

Food History

To examine a good example of what can happen when an unhealthy component of foodstuffs gets a foothold in American food, let’s look at hydrogenated fat.

Hydrogenation became popular in the US because this type of oil has a longer shelf life. When these fats are partially hydrogenated, the manufacturers can claim it is "polyunsaturated" and even market it to us as a healthy food.

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Margarine made from hydrogenated fat was used to replace butter and lard and hailed as the savior of the American heart.

Gradually, however, another story became apparent.

It now appears hydrogenated fat is quite dangerous to our health and has been implicated in many adverse situations. From lowering the "good" HDL cholesterol to raising the "bad" LDL cholesterol to correlating with low birth weight in infants, hydrogenated fat has been shown to be harmful to the health of humans.

Not even mother’s milk is safe. Hydrogenated fat, as consumed by mom, shows up in breast milk. It is not only passed on to baby, it actually lowers the amount of cream volume in milk, thus lowering the overall quality available to the baby.

Although most of this information about hydrogenated fat has been known for many years, food processors have succeeded in keeping the issue out of the public eye—in my opinion this is another example of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) in the food industry. In Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, Udo Erasmus quoted a statement about hydrogenation, made by Herbert Dutton, one of the oldest and most knowledgeable oil chemists in North America who basically said this: because of the known and unknown health effects of these hydrogenation by-products, government health regulations would not allow the process to be used for making edible products if it were to be introduced today.

Maybe they would; maybe they wouldn’t. However, the government has allowed the American public to eat genetically engineered foods long after tests showed it to be dangerous to American health.

Where is the FDA? Where is the USDA? Where is the health of my family being protected?

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