| This effect can be seen in the experiment performed with the Monarch butterfly (a large American butterfly (Danaus plexippus) having light orange-brown wings with black veins and white-spotted black borders, noted for its long-distance migrations and its brightly striped caterpillars that feed on the milkweed plant. On April 1999, a researcher from Cornell University conducted a laboratory study on the effect of Bt on the monarch butterfly. This researcher proved that monarch butterflies were vulnerable and could even die when they were given milkweed leaves dusted with pollen from genetically engineered Bt corn (BT is an organically safe pesticide). If these butterflies died from ingesting genetically modified corn on milkweed leaves, the question becomes how many other rare and not so rare species of organisms are we willing to lose in our bid to use genetically modified foods? Also, when one looks at the fact that the wind carries a lot of materials in the environment to different regions of the earth, it becomes scary to consider the fact that the wind could carry these genetically modified products into new areas which could diminish the population of organisms in those areas.
As an environmental organization, we are also concerned about the effect of genetically modified organisms on the human species. So far, the effects that we have seen have not made genetically modified organisms recommendable. There are huge health risks involved in using genetically modified organisms. One of these health risks is allergy.
The introduction of GM foods might mean that food normally not considered to be allergenic might in fact become allergenic. An example of this can be seen in what happened with the Brazil nut. One biotechnological experiment was to exchange protein genes into soybeans in order to improve the plants protein quality but when this new good was marketed it was found out that food allergen from the Brazil nut had been transferred. This led to allergic reactions from people who used this product.
The idea that GM foods might lead to allergic reactions can be seen in another experiment that was conducted in which animals were fed GM foods. Since many of these GM foods have foreign RNA and DNA (that these animals would not have been exposed to under normal circumstances, centuries ago) when a scan of these animals was checked, the brain scan showed adverse immune system reactions including autoimmune disorders. This is scary when one considers the implications of eating this food for humans. Are we willing to accept the possibly deadly implications of accepting this food into society? Even if these foods do not cause death, they could probably cause new diseases that might be impossible to cure.
Many genetically modified crops have been changed in such a way that they can produce their own levels of pesticides. The problem is that when these plants produce their pesticides, they produce at least 1000 times more BT toxin per acre than does a heavy application of Bt directly on the plants. When ingested, it has been proven to cause problems particularly when it is used in the long term (for example, non – organic corn and corn-based pesticides). Another problem of genetic modified food is that it has been shown to cause birth defects. Scientific research has shown that the use of herbicides on some of these non-organic, genetically–manipulated plants (e.g. soy, canola, corn) apart from increasing the amount of allergic reactions (it has been found that soy allergies has increased by 50%) can cause birth defects.
The fact that consumers are not aware of the effect of GMO foods is very troubling. It seems logical to assume that since most GMO are being produced for human consumption that more research would be done to ensure that humans are not eating food that would be detrimental to their health. But this is not the case. There is an unawareness of the risks of GMO for several reasons, these reasons are the labeling, regulation (this will be discussed later in the paper) and political issues.
Today GE foods are available in all markets throughout the country. In 1999, alone 1/4 of American crops were genetically engineered, including 35 percent of all corn, 55 percent of all soybeans and nearly half of all cotton. According to the National Research Council “Two-thirds of the processed foods on U.S. grocery shelves in 1999 contained genetically altered ingredients” (Amy Martinez). Recent studies shows that GE foods are beginning to even affect the organic farming industry. “The collision of the two is inevitable," says Katherine DiMatteo, head of the Organic Trade Association (NAS Committee). "We will probably as an industry begin lobbying for more regulations because this problem is developing so rapidly". This problem being that it is impossible to avoid seed and pollen pollution from genetically engineered crops since the wind carries seeds, and bees can carry contaminated pollen to fields three miles away.
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