Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs for short, have been a hot topic in public health lately. And even though forms of these organisms have been around for decades, the fear surrounding the increased use of GMOs in our food source has garnered great concern for public health and well-being. There are many questions concerning the negative impacts of GMOs in our food source such as: are GMOs toxic to our organs? Will they alter our genes/DNA? Can they adversely affect our offspring? In this blog, we will look at a study from Harvard that addresses the toxicity of GMOs on our bodies based upon its own study AND a compilation of other, independent studies.
There have been over 100 research studies concerning the toxicity of GMOs, many of which are conflicting. So who do we believe? There are strong opposing groups such as the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), that emphatically report the GMOs are toxic to all body organs. If you go to their website you can find lists of modified foods to avoid as well as a great many studies that assert the position that GMOs are toxic. Most scientists, however, have not been able to find evidence or duplicate the findings of the studies posted there and assert that GMOs are safe.
Compounding the question of which source to trust, is the fact that there is an endless assortment of genetically modified crops, from corn to potatoes to tomatoes and peppers, in which we can study. Each crop is uniquely different (modified) and therefore operates in a different way within the body.
In a study published by Megan L. Norris, a Ph.D. candidate in the Molecular, Cellular and Organismal Biology Program at Harvard University, a genetically modified potato containing the bar gene is fed to rats. The bar gene is an enzyme that detoxifies herbicides so that the potato crop is protected from herbicide use. Rats were used in the experiment in lieu of humans because a human study would be unethical.
In the study, one group of rats were fed a diet the GMO potatoes while another group of rats were fed a diet of non-GMO potatoes. Each group contained both male and female rats, which were tracked and examined after death. There were no differences in the tissue of reproductive organs, livers, kidneys or spleens between the two groups of rats.
A similar study occurred using GMO tomatoes and GMO sweet peppers. In this study, the rats were fed over 7,000 times the average human consumption for 30 days! Again, there were no differences found in the organs of the GMO fed rats.
In conclusion, are GMO’s as bad as we first thought? Based on the studies I have looked at, they are not toxic to our organs. Even though many believe there is a government conspiracy to hide adverse affects, aka the file drawer problem, data from studies have been collected from many different sources worldwide. Because there is no moral obligation to label GMO’s, they have been in our diets for many decades. It would be extremely difficult to know if you were consuming GMO unless you grew all of your own food, and even then it would be difficult. I am compelled to believe GMO’s are relatively safe if time is any indication. But stay tuned, only time can tell!
By the Third Generation, Most Hamsters Fed GM Soy Were Unable to Have Babies. “Health Risks – Institute for Responsible Technology.” Institute for Responsible Technology. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2016.