Sustainable Food Guide
|Environmental Practice at Work © 2005|
|GM & Health... |
No ill-health effects have been demonstrated from eating GM food. That may be because no detailed studies have been made. It was presumed by the US Food and Drugs Agency(FDA) that GM crops did not have to go through the rigours of other new technologies as it was presumed the health effects of GM crops would be the same as conventional foods.
The World Body responsible for setting food standards, Codex Alimentarius, is looking into whether GM food should be tested before they can be said to be "substantially equivalent". Companies must demonstrate GM food is 'substantailly equivalent' to conventional food in order to enter markets across the world.
Monsanto director of corporate communications Phil Angell, said in the New York Times: "[We] should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech foods. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job" (GM Quotes)
The Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission - the UK government's GM advisor, states that if commercial growing of GM crops in the UK went ahead it would " be difficult and in some places impossible to guarantee" that any British food was GM free". Where does that leave the consumer - all of us will have to eat GM, like it or not.
GM uses proteins from organisms that have never been part of the human food chain. We do not know what allergic or other reactions this may cause. Anti-biotic resistant genes are used as a marker in GM crops to identify the uptake of the alien gene. There is a possibility that this dominant gene could also make bacteria antibiotic resistant. The UK Food Standards Agency , showed that antibiotic-resistant marker genes can make their way into human gut bacteria after only one meal. The long term effects of this are unknown.
|Photos courtesy of http://www.usda.gov|