3.4 MYTH:

GM foods have been proven safe for human consumption


The few studies that have been conducted on humans show problems

GM foods are not properly tested for human safety before they are released for sale.60,19 The only published studies that have directly tested the safety of GM foods for human consumption found potential problems but were not followed up:

  • In a study on human volunteers fed a single GM soybean meal, GM DNA survived processing and was detected in the digestive tract. There was evidence of horizontal gene transfer to gut bacteria.61,62 Horizontal gene transfer is a process by which DNA is transferred from one organism to another through mechanisms other than reproductive mechanisms. These mechanisms enable one organism to incorporate into its own genome genes from another organism without being the offspring of that organism.
  • In a study on humans, one of the experimental subjects showed an immune response to GM soy but not to non-GM soy. GM soy was found to contain a protein that was different from the protein in non-GM soy. This shows that GM foods could cause new allergies.63
  • A GM soy variety modified with a gene from Brazil nuts was found to react with antibodies present in blood serum taken from people known to be allergic to Brazil nuts. Based on current immunological knowledge, this observation indicates that this soy variety would produce an allergic reaction in people allergic to Brazil nuts.64
  • A study conducted in Canada detected significant levels of the insecticidal protein, Cry1Ab, which is present in GM Bt crops, circulating in the blood of pregnant women and in the blood supply of their foetuses, as well as in the blood of non-pregnant women.65 How the Bt toxin protein got into the blood (whether through food or another exposure route) is unclear and the detection method used has been disputed by defenders of GM crops. Nevertheless, this study raises questions as to why GM Bt crops are being commercialised widely, when existing research raises serious concerns about their safety and yet no systematic effort is under way to replicate and thereby assess the validity of that research.

These studies should be followed up with controlled long-term studies and GM foods and crops should not be commercialised in the absence of such testing.

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