Genetically engineered foods: science and nature don't necessarily mix

ARLINGTON, VA -- Many genetically-engineered (GE) foods are released onto the market before adequate studies are done to test their risks to humans, according to the May 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Chiropractic Association (JACA). Alarmingly, scientists warn that the long-term health impacts of the novel genes introduced into these foods are impossible to predict, because they contain blueprints for proteins never previously consumed by humans in the quantities produced in GE crops, according to the article.

"According to most estimates, 60 to 70 percent of all processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients, including proteins previously absent from human diets," write Shirley Watson, DC, director of education for the American Chiropractic Association's (ACA) Council on Nutrition, and Barbara Keeler, a journalist and health and nutrition expert, in the JACA article. "Some hazards from the GE process could directly impact patients who ingest the food. Other hazards are indirect, operating through pollution of other food species or through unintended effects on local and global ecosystems."

Genetically engineered foods were quietly introduced into the marketplace in 1996. In the past four years, they have spread rapidly. Three varieties of soy, ten varieties of corn, papaya, yellow neck squash, canola, potatoes, tomatoes, dairy and animal products are already on the tables of most consumers - with more than a hundred expected soon.

Among the hazards of genetically engineered foods revealed in the article:

  • Toxin producers: The article quotes FDA documents that state, "Corn and potatoes engineered to produce toxins that kill insects are now classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as pesticides, rather than vegetables." These vegetables produce toxins designed to kill harmful insects, but "non-target" insects and mammals have also been affected.
  • Herbicide-resistant genes: Seventy-one

Contact: Teri Howell
703-276-8800 ex. 247
American Chiropractic Association

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