Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), foods and products pose serious threats to human health and the environment. They carry substances or chemicals that have various toxic effects. Novel proteins may be produced that may cause allergies and other forms of hypersensitivity reactions. They carry virus vectors that can create, transform, or enhance infectious agents. They usually carry antibiotic resistance genes that can transfer and spread to various pathogenic organisms and render many life saving antibiotics useless. Genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-tolerant crops are laced with high levels of pesticide residues that may disrupt endocrine function, destroy the immune system, and cause, directly or indirectly, various kinds of diseases, including cancer.
There are already many documented examples (by genetic engineering scientists) of unexpected production of toxic substances due to genetic engineering:
- In the late 1980's, a new GMO was used to produce L-tryptophan, a nutrient supplement. Inadvertently, a toxic metabolite was also produced. Within a period of months, thousands of people who had taken the new supplement began to suffer from eosinophilia myagia syndrome, a new disease characterized by hematologic, neurologic, and other abnormalities. At least, 1,500 people were permanently disabled and 37 died. Genetic engineering proponents claim that the purification process, not the genetic engineering technology, caused the problem. But while no definitive conclusions can be made (the company involved destroyed all the GMOs used that could have provided the definitive answer), there are enough circumstantial and othe evidence that point to genetic engineering as the culprit.
- In 1995, a scientific report in the Journal of Food Science and Technology showed that when yeast was genetically modified to achieve a higher fermentation efficacy, there was an unexpected tremendous increase in the production of a toxic metabolite called glyoxal.
- Similarly, it was reported in Nature Biotechnology in May 1996 that when tobacco was genetically engineered, a toxic chemical called octadecatetraenoic acid, which does not exist in the natural tobacco plant was produced. Other untoward incidents are likely to occur if GMOs are allowed to proliferate.
FERNANDEZ, P.G., A.L. AQUINO, L.E.P. de GUZMAN, M.F.O. MERCADO (Eds.). 2002. Local seed systems for genetic conservation and sustainable agriculture sourcebook. University of the Philippine Los Banos - College of Agriculture. Laguna, Philippines