Health Concerns

healthGMO Health Risks

The health concerns regarding GMOs are largely unknown. This is because of the FDA’s policy, Substantial Equivalence. The concept for this policy is, that if the DNA being introduced to the cell of a crop is considered safe for human consumption, and the cell it is being introduced to is safe for human consumption, the end result is “generally recognized as safe” and, therefore, is not required to be labeled or human safety tested.

The Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, the biotech industry and the large agriculture corporations will argue that not one illness has been linked to GMOs. But, GMOs are not labeled and people don’t know they are eating them. When someone becomes ill, there is no one asking about or contemplating GMOs as a cause.

When GMOs are used in medicine, there is human safety testing, and there is a model in place to track harmful effects of a medication once it has hit the market. There is a process in place to see if the drug is causing harmful effects. Not so with GMO foods. Once they hit the market, there is no monitoring of these foods for human safety.

We know the incidences of autism, diabetes, cancers, digestive disorders, allergies, and other illnesses are on the rise, but GMOs are not even part of the conversation. We cannot conclude that GMOs are safe based on the fact that they are not discussed as a potential problem.

Since GMOs are not labeled, consumers do not know they are eating them.


spraying cropsHerbicide and Pesticide Health Risks

GMO crops are either engineered to survive direct applications of herbicides or to express their own pesticides. Our exposure to chemicals has increased since the introduction of GMOs. According to a Washington State University study by Charles Benbrook, chemical usage increased by 318 million pounds in the first 13 years GMOs were on the market.

Most herbicide tolerant plants are modified to withstand applications of Roundup, which was recently listed as a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization. Due to increased weed resistance, Dow Chemical has created a new seed which is resistant to both Roundup and 2,4D. Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, has also been show to cause birth defects, endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity. A study by the US Geological Survey found Roundup in the streams, air and rain in the Mississippi Basin during growing season.

The new 2,4D resistant crops will result in increased exposure to that chemical as well. Please note that 2, 4D was half of the formulation of Agent Orange during Vietnam, and it contains dioxins as a result of the manufacturing process. It is a concern that these chemicals are being sprayed directly onto our food, and ending up in our waterways.

The other common GMO crop is referred to as a BT crop. These crops have been modified to express their own BT toxin. BT is derived from a soil dwelling bacteria called bacterial thurengiensis. This is a pesticide commonly used in organic farming, however, you can wash the toxin off before consuming the food. With BT crops, the pesticide is now a part of the plant. When it is modified this way it is registered with the EPA as a pesticide.

rats tumorsAnimal Studies

There are several animal studies which indicate a greater need for human safety testing. One such study, known as the Seralini study, generated a significant amount of controversy. The rat study, which found an alarming number of tumors develop during the full lifetime of the rats, had been peer reviewed and published in science journals. Monsanto and other large corporations convinced the journal to print a retraction. You can read the study and Seralini’s comments regarding the retraction here.

Other animal studies have shown changes in reproductive health, including sterilization within 2 generations. Also noted were allergies, excessive cell growth, digestive disorders and more. While the animal studies are not adequate to give us good information about the affect of these foods on human health, it does suggest more independent research is in order. For more on the animal studies, visit Institute for Responsible Technology.



Last updated July, 2015