- Slides: 27
Hidden Threats Food from Genetically Modified Crops
GM crops and Food Safety n n n Since the 1980 s several companies are aiming to develop genetically modified crops and to market them Chemical company Monsanto dominates the market for seeds of GM crops - holding 70%– 100% market share for various crops Other companies: Pioneer, Syngenta and Bayer DVD: The World according to Monsanto (2008)
Artificial organisms n GE crops are produced using laboratory techniques where genetic material from the cells of one species is transferred into another species n to artificially create new living organisms that would never naturally occur through breeding.
Risks for consumers n n Because genetic engineering is a very imprecise technology, the insertion of foreign genes can stimulate the production of unexpected proteins. These may prove toxic or allergenic to those who consume them.
Types of GM Crops Of economical importance are so far two types: 1. Herbicide resistant crops can stand high doses of a specific herbicide in case of Monsanto’s seeds: Roundup Ready crops
Types of GMO (2) 2. Bt crops, such as Bt corn and Bt cotton q these crops have an inserted gene from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) which enables them to produce a poison which shall kill the dominant pests corn borer, cotton bollworm
Importance of GM crops n n n Worldwide, 9 percent the global primary crop production from genetically modified crops 2006: over 100 million hectares in 22 countries 64% of total soya crop and 24% of the global maize crop
Importance (2) n n Many processed foods contain Soybean oil and/or glucose syrup (from corn) Difficult to avoid food containing genetically modified material, especially in the USA
Animal feeds n n Likewise animal feeds commonly contain corn and soybean meal from GM crops Also in Europe GM material was found in milk and meat
Concern: Food Safety n n GM food is not labeled as such The industry argues GM crops are “substantially equivalent” to their conventional counterparts Consequently no need for special considerations concerning safety Label “GMO free” opposed
Producers ensure n n n All food developers and manufacturers are required to ensure the safety and quality of their products. Producers of new foods have an obligation to ensure that the foods they offer consumers are safe and in compliance with applicable legal requirements (US Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act)
Are GM crops safe to eat? n n According to the National Academy of Sciences, “genetic transfers between unrelated organisms do not pose hazards or risks different from those encountered by natural selection or traditional cross-breeding between similar species. ” “The process itself by which genes are transferred does not make living organisms harmful. ”
The risks 1. 2. 3. Effects due to the insertion of genes into chromosomes of crops Roundup residues Residues from Bt
Risks due to the GM transformation process n n Advocates of GM crops: no concerns about safety because GM crop material is degraded during processing into feed and during digestion. ( secretions of nucleases, enzymes which break down DNA, along the gut. )
Risks due to the GM transformation process (2) n n Since late 2005, three published studies by three different scientific teams and one unpublished study detected transgenic plant DNA in animal tissues and milk. It is likely that people are being frequently exposed to GM DNA by eating milk and meat from GM-fed animals, albeit at very low levels
Risks due to the GM transformation process (3) n n n Harmless protein in one organism can be harmful in another organism. One factor: post – translation modification Rat feeding with GM potatoes showed that lesions in the gut wall of the rats were due to substances resulting from the process
Roundup Ready crops n n n ‘Roundup Ready’ soya: most widely grown GM crop variety tolerates applications of Monsanto’s ‘broad spectrum’ glyphosate herbicide Roundup destroys all other plants.
Roundup Ready (2) n n n Italian mouse trial: Roundup Ready soya affects key body organs FSA human feeding trial: entire transgenic gene in GM soy survives the passage through the stomach and small intestine, though not through the colon Roundup residues cause cell damage Greenpeace protest against GMO
Roundup Ready (3) n n Portions of transgenic DNA had ‘horizontally’ transferred from GM food into the intestinal bacteria of some of the volunteers Another rat feeding: unexplained changes in testicle cells indicator of toxins
Roundup Ready (4) n Russian study: rats fed with GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce. Photo: q q showing stunted growth - the larger rat, 19 days old, is from the control group; the smaller rat, 20 days old, is from the "GM soy“ group.
Residues from Bt n n n Bt toxin is present in all the cells in Bt maize, the main GM maize used in animal feed Toxic reactions in rats (several studies)
Residues from Bt (2) n n n Twelve cows died mysteriously in Germany when fed Bt corn In India, sheep died after grazing in cotton fields More than 20 farmers observed: pigs and cows became sterile from GM corn
No adverse effects? Nina Fedroff: Adviser to the US Sec. of State “Despite dire predictions, no adverse effects of GM crops on health, biodiversity and the environment have been documented to date. ” Phnom Penh Post, 24/12/2008
Conclusion n n Numerous feeding trails with rats and several observations by farmers indicate that the novel substances of GM crops are not as harmless as Monsanto and others state. Assessment of the list of risks indicates that GM crops are currently far too risky to be used for food or animal feed.
n To some extent: Conclusion (2)Humanity has been turned into a pack of guinea pigs* * somebody or something experimented on: somebody or something used as the subject of an experiment or test.
Conclusion (3) n n n Producers and consumers need to be aware of the looming dangers Information concerning products containing GM material is essential In food preparations soy oil, cornstarch and glucose syrup should not be used unless origin is clear.