I traced all the food I had eaten. The only thing different from my usual diet was biscuits from South Africa. I returned to the store to look at the package; the label was full of small words with meanings I did not know well. But one of the main ingredients was corn syrup – in South Africa this is mostly made from genetically modified corn.
I have hardly eaten any processed food from South Africa since – I have not had the metallic taste return. Of course this is not proof that the two aspects are related– it’s just a feared correlation. Genetic engineering is a radical new technology that forces genetic information into organisms’ DNA in an unnatural way.
Genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) are created by inserting a protein from a different organism into the original organisms’ genome. This is usually done to create a plant that is more resistant to insects or diseases. Shockingly little research has been done on the effects of genetically modified organisms when ingested as food by human beings.
That is, corporations are attempting to produce the GMOs as food without doing the standard research used to test the safety of new products that will be eaten or used by human beings. For example, there is suspicion that Golden Rice, an agrobiotech industry project, may soon be cultivated commercially after more than ten years of development.
The GMO rice is supposed to demonstrate that genetically engineered plants can substantially help malnutrition – so far without success. A recent evaluation shows that many crucial questions still need to be answered: No feeding trials have investigated health risks.
Long term ecological risks have not been examined. Data on the stability of the carotinoids are missing. The carotinoids are produced in the plants as a result of the genetic engineering and are supposed to serve as source of vitamin A. During storage of the rice kernels, in particular, this might be degraded. Data on bioavailability are lacking.
Therefore it cannot be predicted how efficiently the carotinoids in the rice can be used by the human body. Hardly any data are available on unintended changes in the composition of the plants and their metabolism. If the plants are grown commercially, their genetic condition will be able to invade wild species and regional rice varieties without being retrievable.
The long term ecological and economical consequences of such uncontrolled spreading in the rice growing areas cannot be predicted. Genetically modified crops are engineered to tolerate poisons e.g. herbicides such as glyphosate and gluphosinate and insecticides such as the bacterial toxin Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
For example, GMO corn’s DNA has been equipped with a gene from Bt that produces the Bt-toxin. It’s a pesticide; it breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them. That is what it is designed to do. Monsanto (a company which is believed to control 90%of GMO seeds) has assured the public and governments that it was only insects that would be hurt by their genetically modified seeds.
They claimed that these poisons introduced into each cell would not be absorbed. The Bttoxin, they claimed, would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and not have any impact on consumers – not now or in future generations. But it is not true, as independent research is beginning to show.
The scientific journal Reproductive Toxicology published a study in 2011 looking at exposure of pregnant and non-pregnant women in Canada to pesticides associated with genetically modified foods. Bt toxin as well as other toxins including glyphosate and gluphosinate were found in pregnant women, their fetuses and non-pregnant women.
It is believed that these toxins were ingested with GMO corn. In another study of human beings, some of the subjects were found to have pesticide in their gut bacteria! This means that sometime in the past, from eating one or more meals of GM soybeans, THE GENE THAT HAD BEEN FORCED INTO THE SOY, HAD TRANSFERRED INTO THE DNA OF BACTERIA LIVING INSIDE THEIR
INTESTINES—AND CONTINUED TO FUNCTION.
That means that long after we stop eating GMOs, we may still have dangerous GM proteins produced continuously inside of us.