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Genetically Modified Foods Biosafety

What are Genetically Modified Foods? Genetically modified foods are plant and animals consumed by man in which genes for a particular characteristic(s) have been inserted into an organism's DNA resulting in a new living entity never before seen in nature. What are Some Commonly Available Genetically Modified Foods? (i) Corn. (ii) Canola. (iii) Soybean. (iv) Fish e.

g. salmon, carp, trout, tilapia. (v) Cotton squash. (vi) Papaya. Which Countries Produce Genetically Modified Foods? (i) US accounts for nearly 2/3 of all biotechnology crops planted globally.

(ii) Argentina produces primarily soybeans. (iii) Canada produces primarily canola. (iv) Brazil produces primarily soybeans. (v) China produces primarily cotton. (vi) South Africa produces primarily cotton.

(vii) Other minor producers of genetically modified foods include: Australia; Mexico; Romania; Bulgaria; Spain; Germany; Uruguay; Indonesia; Phillippines; India; Columbia; Honduras. How Many Acres of Land are Under Genetic Modification Cultivation? (i) 672 million acres of land are under cultivation. (ii) US (63 %) of land planted.

(iii) Argentina (21 %) of land planted. (iv) Canada (6 %) of land planted. (v) Brazil (4 %) of land planted.

(vi) China (4 %) of land planted. (vii) South Africa (1 %) of land planted. (viii) Other countries (1 %) of land planted. Why are Genetically Modified Foods Synthesized? It is hoped that through the use of genetic engineering desirable traits, characteristics and qualities can be selected and developed. The use of genetic engineering is though to solve worldwide problems of: (i) Hunger (ii) Poverty. (iii) High cost food.

(iv) Pests and decreased harvest yield. (v) Declining soil fertility and productivity. (vi) Low quality fruits and vegetables. (vii) Slow growing crops, dairy animals and fishes. (viii) Low resistant crops and animals to environmental conditions.

(ix) Increased pesticide use. (x) Low nutritious foods with poor taste, texture and color. Does Genetic Engineering Pose A Threat to Human Health and Wellbeing? Genetic engineering involves the manipulation of an organism's genes mainly through gene insertion to produce desired characteristics. Gene insertion is not well controlled and the entire process is highly unpredictable leading to many undesirable effects that may be harmful to the organism and the environment. Genetic engineering may pose a threat to the young, aged, pregnant and immunocompromised individuals in society.

Some examples are given below: (i) Several thousands of Americans suffered allergic reactions after consuming genetically altered varieties of the food supplement L-tryptophan. (ii) Brazil nut gene spliced into soybean caused allergic reactions in some individuals. (iii) In 1994 USFDA approved the genetically produced hormone rBGH for injection into dairy cows. It was found that rBGH linked to a potential chemical hormone IGF-1 increased the risks of human breast, prostate and colon cancer to 400 % to 500 %. (iv) Genetically modified herbicides contain common carcinogens such as bromoxynil used on transgenic cotton and glufonsinate used on genetically modified soybeans, corn and canola.

(v) A number of autoimmune diseases are enhanced by foreign DNA fragments that are not fully digested in the human stomach and intestine. (vi) Antibiotic threat posed by infected milk from cows inject with rBGH. Much of genetic implantation uses a genetic marker to track genes.

For example genetically modified maize plants use ampicillin resistant genes. This resistant quality can be transferred to bacteria in the human body and in the environment. This may account for the resurgence of infectious diseases. (vii) Interior toxins are present in pesticidal foods. These foods have genes that produce a toxic pesticide inside the food's cell.

There is little knowledge of the potential long-term health impacts. (viii) Genetically modified foods have lower levels of vital nutrients especially phytoestrogen that protect the body from heart disease and cancer. (ix) Soil sterility and pollution caused by the genetically modified bacterium klebsiella planticola. This bacterium was developed to assist in the breakdown of wood, chips, corn stalks, and lumber waste to produce ethanol with the post-process waste to be used as compost. Instead this bacterium rendered the soil sterile robbing the soil of nitrogen and killing nitrogen capturing fungi. (x) Animal and plant bio-invasion.

Genetically modified organisms such as fish e.g. salmon, carp, trout, tilapia species grow faster and need less feed. Genetically modified Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt endotoxin remains in the soil at least eighteen months and may be transported to wild plants creating superweeds that are resistant to butterflies, moths and beetles pests thus disturbing the balance of nature. (xi) Genetically modified products such as canola have been reported to kill beneficial insects such as the Monarch Butterfly larvae and honey bees.

(xii) Genetically modified potatoes spliced with DNA from snowdrop plant and a viral promoter (CaMV) may cause damage to vital organs, the stomach lining and immune system. (xiii) Loss of biological diversity creation of a monoculture. (xiv) Birth defects and shorter life span. Cows injected with rBGH have increase birth defects and shorter life spans.

What Major Event Occurred in US that fueled the Genetic Modification Explosion that led to the US Being the Largest Producer of Genetically Modified Foods? (i) In 1980 a single Supreme Court ruling allowed for the first time, the patenting of life forms for commercialization. Since then thousands of genetically modified organisms have been patented. Which countries have moratoriums, banning, restricting or requiring labeling for genetically modified foods? (i) Great Britain. (ii) France. (iii) Germany. (iv) Netherlands.

(v) Italy. (vi) Spain. (vii) Portugal. (viii) Greece.

(ix) Denmark. (x) Sweden. (xi) Belgium. (xii) Finland.

(xiii) Ireland. (xiv) Austria. (xv) Portugal. (xvi) Latin America.

(xvii) Near East Countries. (xviii) Asia. (xix) All European Countries.

Does Genetically Modified Foods Infringe on the "Rights of Consumers"? (i) USFDA does not require labeling of genetically modified foods. (ii) Restricting people from exercising the right to choose. (iii) Subject individuals to foods that may not be sound or there exists insufficient knowledge to prove genetically modified foods are safe. (iv) Violates the US Food and Drug Act which require that added substance to food be labeled and mandates disclosure of material facts.

This is not currently done. (v) Contravenes religious and ethical beliefs and practices. How are Genetically Modified Foods and the Concept of Biosafety Related? Biosafety is a term used to describe the necessary rules, regulations, principles, protocols, procedures, practices used to minimize, control or eradicate potential risks associated with the use of biotechnology or products derived therefrom such as genetic engineering and genetically modified foods.

What is the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety? The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an international harmonizing mechanism that sets standards in dealing with the international introduction of living modified organisms into the environment. To date 103 countries have signed the protocol and 87 have ratified it. The signatories to the protocol are obliged to develop policies as well as legal and necessary infrastructure to comply with the minimum standards set by the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. What are Some Measures that May be Used to Provide Safeguards Against Real or Hypothetical Risks Posed by Genetically Modified Foods? (i) Rigorous pre-market assessment of safety.

(ii) Research to improve understanding of the science of genetic modification of food. (iii) Health surveillance to provide re-assurance against any unexpected adverse effects on health. Other Pertinent Questions that Need to be Asked Concerning Genetically Modified Foods? (i) Are there any inherent hazards in genetically modification process itself? (ii) Are the products of genetically modification harmful to human health and wellbeing? (iii) Can genetically modified foods which are given to animals which are then eaten pose a hazard to human health? (iv) Can genetically modification technology lead to environmental changes which may have a secondary effect on human health and wellbeing? What Should Governments do to Prevent Exposure of their Populations to Genetically Modified Foods? (i) Adopt the Precautionary Principle that is when scientific evidence is not very clear or is contradictory, governments should err on the side of caution when formulating standards or regulations in order to protect public health or the environment.

Thus technological innovation used in the production of genetically modified foods should be put on hold until proven safe. .

By: Dr. Deryck D. Pattron, Ph.D.


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