For those concerned about health and the environment, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have increasingly been a topic of concern. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a broad group of plants, animals, and bacteria that are engineered for a wide variety of applications ranging from agricultural production to scientific research. The types of potential hazards posed by GMOs vary according to the type of organism being modified and its intended application. Most of the concern surrounding GMOs relates to their potential for negative effects on the environment and human health. Because GMOs that could directly affect human health are primarily products that can enter the human food supply, most of the controversy surrounding this topic concentrates on genetically modified food.
In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claimed they had no information showing that genetically modified (GM) foods were substantially different from conventionally grown foods. According to the FDA website, the only types of products to date that have been approved for human consumption in the U.S. are genetically modified plants.
Starting in 1996, genetically modified (GM) ingredients have been introduced in many processed foods in the U.S. Increasingly, GMO produce is being sold in markets and grocery stores across the country.
In the U.S., the federal government considers all genetically-modified foods approved by the FDA to be as safe as their traditional counterparts and are generally unregulated. Opponents to the unregulated us of GMOs argue that these foods are not safe or that not enough is known yet about these foods to be able to determine what the long-term consequences of the use of these plants / foods are or could be on humans, animals or the environment. In fact, FDA scientists had repeatedly warned that GM foods can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged long-term safety studies, but were ignored.
Critics of the FDA also point out that the head of the agency, as well as key staff members responsible for formulating the FDA policy, have previously held positions with Monsanto, the largest biotech company and a major producer of pesticides, seed stock and processed foods. Increasingly, the same biotech companies who have been found guilty of hiding toxic effects of their chemical products are in charge of determining whether their GM foods are safe. Most GMO safety studies have been industry-funded which critics say are creating a meaningless façade.
There are several types of potential health effects that could result from the insertion of a novel gene into an organism. Health effects of primary concern to safety assessors are production of new allergens, increased toxicity, decreased nutrition, and antibiotic resistance.
In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) stated that, “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified (GM) food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. Since 2012, countries around the world have passed laws mandating GMO labeling and/or outright banning the use of GMOs. To date, the U.S. has not passed any such legislation.