How Do Genetically Modified Foods Affect Our Health

Modified Foods

Foods produced from genetically modified organisms, specifically genetically modified crops are known as genetically modified foods. Genetic engineering techniques have brought specific changes into the DNAs of genetically modified organisms. In this technique, a non specific but stable change is created by exposing organism to radiation or chemicals.

Many advocates say that farmers can produce more with fewer chemicals through these genetically modified foods. But it is worth considering what impact do these genetically modified foods have on our health.

The exact answer to this question is not known to anyone. Research on their long term effect on human beings is scarce as they have been in the market only since 1994. Studies wherein genetically modified foods are linked to altered metabolism, kidney and liver malfunction, inflammation and reduced fertility have been done only on animals. In one of these experiments, genetically modified soy was fed to multiple generations of hamsters; they were losing the ability to produce off springs by the third generation.

Moreover, allergy sufferers also worry that allergenic proteins will pop up in expected places as the genes are transferred between the plants. Even though some scientists claims that sophisticated tests are run by the companies so as to ensure that this kind of mistake does not happen, however it is always a gamble to insert new genes into a seed’s delicately constructed genome. This is mainly because all the consequences cannot be predicted by the scientists. Hence, this can result in creation of brand new allergens.

Many substances are produced by plants that are toxic to humans. Toxins are also produced by plants that human consumes but are very low and so do not have any adverse effect on human bodies. However, toxins are produced at a much higher level when an exotic gene is inserted into the plant.

In spite of the above mentioned health concerns, there are few benefits of genetically modified foods as well. The genetically modified foods are known to reduce the production costs as the chemical and mechanical need is reduced in planting, maintenance and harvesting. Consumers in turn can receive benefits of these savings.  Nutrition implications are the most obvious benefit to the consumers. Production of food that is more nutrient dense is made possible with the biotechnology of gene splicing as it allows for the opportunity of creating plans that will produce such foods. For e.g. if we consider a product termed “Golden Rice”. It contains beta carotene which is a source of Vitamin A and iron. Most developing countries consume rice as a dietary staple. Childhood blindness and maternal anemia are found to be at highest rate in these countries. It has been identified that Vitamin A and iron can be very effective in preventing and treating maternal anemia and blindness respectively.

Besides the health benefit, genetically modified foods can be a sustainable solution to malnutrition in developing countries and can also be looked as a provision of a sufficient quantity of high quality diet.

As not enough studies have been done to establish the true advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified foods, there are lot of disputes which involves farmers, biotechnical companies, consumers, nongovernmental organizations, government regulators and scientists and this can only be solved when studies are done and sufficient evidences are gathered.