July 22, 2019

Legal Petition Filed With FDA to Label Genetically Modified Foods


Healthy Child Healthy World
and Just Label It! have joined forces to petition the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), calling on the government to label genetically engineered (GE) foods.

GMO TomatoGenetically engineered foods, also called “genetically modified” (GMO) foods, genetically engineered (GE), or “transgenic foods”, have their genes altered in the laboratory to add desired traits. Scientists remove DNA fragments from animals, bacteria, and plants, and insert them into plant and animal genes.

For instance, genes from flounder have been added to tomatoes to make tomatoes more resistant to cold temperatures. One of the most common gene transfers adds resistance to diseases and pests. Scientists want to create larger crop yields and faster growing crops with this method.

While plants and animals have been modified through cross-breeding for centuries, gene splicing and GE foods were developed just in the last twenty years. One of the most well-known GE foods is corn modified with the Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) bacterium, which makes it resistant to insects like the European corn borer.

A study published in Nature found that monarch butterfly caterpillars were dying because pollen from B.t.-modified corn was contaminating milkweed plants, the caterpillar’s preferred food. Since beef, poultry, pork, and other livestock are raised on engineered grains, they contain the modified DNA. Some animals are directly modified: for instance, chickens can be modified to make the eggs they produce low-cholesterol.

Consumer and environmental groups have many concerns about GE foods. For instance, a peanut gene could be added to another crop, making that new food allergenic to those with peanut allergies. And “outcrossing”, which occurs when the modified genes move into wild species, is already occurring.

Herbicide-resistant weeds, called “superweeds” are now growing in 26 states, since they cross-breed with GE plants and incorporate the herbicide-resistant gene. As a result, millions more pounds of herbicides are used every year in the United States.

No epidemiological studies about the effects of GE foods have been conducted, even though the insecticide in GE corn is now present in our bloodstream and pregnant women’s cord blood. Opponents to GE believe that these foods should be proven safe before they are produced and sold for consumption.

GE foods are very prevalent in the marketplace. Some studies estimate that 60 to 70% of all processed foods in the United States have some GE material.

Opponents of labeling say that no significant differences have been found between genetically modified foods and conventionally-grown and produced foods. They also say that mandatory labeling will be difficult and expensive.

The petition can be found at Just Label It!.

Comments

  1. Thanks! I definitely agree that we do not know what happens to the modified DNA when animals eat food that contains it. But it is true that whatever you eat becomes part of you; trans fats, for instance, become part of cell walls, making them flabby and perhaps changing how they communicate with each other. We do need epidemiological studies about the long-term safety of these foods.

  2. I was happy to see for a change an article that commented GMO matter in more civil way and had actually rather good information of the overall process and the effects. Thank you for not writing blindly and keeping true to the facts.

    Just wanted to point out that while this article has great amount of factual information about genetic modifying included, there is one minor point that didn’t feel was quite right. The livestock that is fed with GMO grains do not themselves contain modified DNA or genes. That is since the DNA (no matter in which form) is digested by the enzymes into nucleic acids before they get absorbed. Nucleic acids themselves are not differing from natural once in GMO organisms, only the sequence they are put in, so there should be no harm after the sequence is digested.

    On the other hand the modified genes may cause some unexpected compounds to accumulate into the organism. That is one thing that should be inspected and checked to be safe.

    That said seeing actually factual and well written article about the matter was great. Too often they get carried away and heated in tone or simply ignore the facts. Thank you for writing this one!

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