5 Human Health Effects of Genetically Engineered Crops

In the absence of particular nutrient deficiency, focusing on single nutrients may be of limited value for evaluating the impact of a food or diet on human health [49]; studies of actual health effects, as discussed above, are generally more informative than studies of single nutrients. Most of the human studies have been carried out in the US and have focused on assessing brain functions in children in relation to prenatal organophosphate exposure.

The health risks associated with some secondary metabolites in common foodstuffs are generally well understood, and the plants are either harvested at times when the concentrations of the compounds are low, the tissues with the highest concentrations of toxins are discarded, or, as in the case of cassava (Manihot esculenta), the food is prepared with special methods to remove the toxic compounds. In other cases, food preparation may be the cause of the presence of a toxic compound (for example, the formation of the probable carcinogen acrylamide when potatoes are fried at high temperatures or when bread is toasted).

Association of Proton Pump Inhibitors and Capecitabine Efficacy in Advanced Gastroesophageal Cancer: Secondary Analysis of the TRIO-013/LOGiC Randomized Clinical Trial

The second perspective is that whole-food tests could be useful, but there is concern about their design and conduct or about the parties who conduct them (the companies commercializing the GE crops). That perspective is evident in Séralini et al. (2007), Domingo and Bordonaba (2011), Hilbeck et al. (2015), and Krimsky (2015). Boxes 5-3 and 5-4 describe some of the specific procedures and practices involved in doing these tests.

There has been a lot of interest in studying whether taking selenium lowers the chance of getting prostate cancer. The interest was triggered by the finding that prostate cancer seems to be less common in men with higher selenium levels in their bodies. To date, there have been several large, long-term scientific studies. Most of this evidence suggests that selenium does not reduce the chance of getting prostate cancer.

A two-generational rat study based on feed grown in a factorial design (fertilisation x plant protection) of organic and conventional practices revealed that the production system had an effect on several physiological, endocrine and immune parameters in the offspring [57]. Most of the effects identified were related to the fertilisation regimen. None of these studies found that any of the feed production systems was more supportive of animal health. In regard to chronic diseases, the number of studies is limited.

Most insecticides are designed to be toxic to the insect nervous system, but many higher species depend on similar neurochemical processes and may therefore all be vulnerable to these substances [129]. Besides insecticides, experimental studies suggest a potential for adverse effects on the nervous system for many herbicides and fungicides as well [99].

  • The National Research Council report Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods pointed out that there were important limitations in allergenicity predictions that could be done before commercialization (NRC, 2004).
  • In addition to the work of Séralini et al. (2012, 2014), there have been other long-term rodent studies, some of which included multiple generations.
  • Plain white or parboiled rice would be served with an assortment of vegetable preparations, lentil gravy, pickles, condiments, and papadum crackers on a banana leaf, which acts as a disposable plate.
  • In organic agriculture, the use of pesticides is restricted, while residues in conventional fruits and vegetables constitute the main source of human pesticide exposures.
  • As a consequence, the committee expects a sizable increase in the number of food-producing crop species that are genetically altered.
  • If, instead, all the transgenes could be targeted at the same site on a chromosome either simultaneously or one after another, they would not segregate from each other as they were moved into elite varieties.

If lesions are observed, a histopathological examination of target tissues may be conducted. On termination of subacute (28-day), subchronic (90-day), and chronic (1-year or longer) studies, a necropsy is done on each animal.

Skin cancer. Taking 200 mcg of selenium does not seem to reduce the risk of getting a certain type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma.

Early research shows that taking yeast enriched with selenium seems to decrease how much mercury the body absorbs in Chinese people exposed to high levels of mercury in the environment. Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).

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Potatoes and other crops in the “deadly nightshade” family (Solanaceae, which includes tomato and eggplant) produce glycoalkaloids, some of which have human toxicity, as described above (see the section “Endogenous Toxins in Plants” in this chapter). Langkilde et al. (2012) conducted a compositional and toxicological analysis of the potatoes with lower solanine and higher chaconine. The study used Syrian golden hamsters instead of rats because the hamsters are very sensitive to the glycoalkaloids.

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