Long-Term Health Impacts of Genetically Engineered Food
The truth is we don’t yet know the long-term impacts of genetically engineered crops on people’s health. Currently genetically engineered foods are not independently tested. The FDA relies on safety assessments from the very same companies that develop the genetically engineered crops.
The FDA explains the process as, “the developer produces a safety assessment, which includes the identification of distinguishing attributes of new genetic traits, whether any new material in food made from the GE plant could be toxic or allergenic when eaten, and a comparison of the levels of nutrients in the GE plant to traditionally bred plants. FDA scientists evaluate the safety assessment and also review relevant data and information that are publicly available in published scientific literature and the agency’s own records.” [FDA’s Role In Regulating Safety of GE Foods,5/9/14]
This lack of independent study raises serious concerns. A 2009 editorial by Scientific American called for more independent studies into genetically engineered foods because “only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal. In a number of cases, experiments that had the implicit go-ahead from the seed company were later blocked from publication because the results were not flattering”. [Scientific American, 8/13/09]
The Center for Food Safety has also expressed their concerns about the FDA’s reliance on self-reporting and industry sponsored safety testing, noting, “Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are being allowed to purchase and consume unlabeled GE foods, despite the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does no independent testing of their safety. […] Nonetheless, FDA only holds a voluntary (and confidential) meeting with industry before allowing commercialization of these foods and relies entirely on the data the industry chooses to show them.” [Center for Food Safety,About GE Food Labeling]
Beyond the health concerns involved with the actual genetic modifications, there are also serious environmental concerns over the increased use of pesticides on genetically engineered crops and the impact that has on our ecosystems as well as the human health impact from directly consuming these pesticides.
In the industrial farming practices of genetically engineered crops, pesticides like Round-up are directly sprayed on the plants at ever increasing levels. These pesticides do not wash off, but are instead metabolized by the plant and remain intact when we consume these genetically engineered crops and feed them to our families. Studies have shown alarming levels of Round-up remaining in genetically engineered soy as well as Round-up appearing in human urine and human breast milk. [Rodale, "Extreme" Levels of Roundup Detected in Food] [NaturalSociety, 5/4/14]
Round-up is only the beginning of the environmentally harmful pesticide cocktail involved with genetically engineered crops. Some weeds have naturally adapted to tolerate Round-up so new genetically engineered varieties of crops resistant to 2,4-D (part of Agent Orange) and Dicamba have been developed and are on the verge of approval with the USDA. Once approved, residuals of these even more potent and dangerous chemicals will also be carried into our food supply on the backs of genetically engineered ingredients just like Round-up.
The bottom line: Oregonians have a right to decide for themselves, based on accurate and complete information, what they feel comfortable eating and feeding their families.