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Genetically modified organisms are those whose genetic make-up has been altered. This is through gene technology which enables scientists and other concerned parties to recombine the genes of various living organisms. The organism can either be a plant, an animal or any some microorganisms. Nevertheless, the increase in genetically modified organisms mainly for consumption purposes has been influenced by the increase in food shortage and the increase in population. Studies have estimated that genetically modified crops are grown in over 29 counties which estimates that there is over 160 million hectares of farms that have been cultivated with genetically modified crops (Bawa & Anilakumar, 2013). Moreover, there are various countries that import GMOs and it is estimated that 1930 million people consume GMOs regularly (Bawa & Anilakumar, 2013). Some may argue that genetically modified foods may be the solution to the food shortage but it has been argued that there is not sufficient evidence to guarantee that these genetically modified foods are safe for human consumption and for the environment. This debate has been continuous but it has been stated that it is fear that is holding back the production of genetically modified organisms. In essence, facts, over fears should be the sole determinant of the safety and health concerns that such types of foods hold. As a matter of fact, these genetically modified foods undergo numerous tests before being released.
Effects of GMOS on human health
One of the greatest fears surrounding genetic alteration is the fact that such types of food may cause unspecified mutations. By altering the genetic make-up of the current food supply, there is a possibility that allergens may be introduced (Rose, 2018). According to the founder of the institute for responsible technology, altering the genetic make-up of a naturally occurring microorganisms may lead to a change in the genetic code. This change in the genetic code may, in return, lead to change in the expression of the gene and as such, change the functioning. When such a food is taken into the human body, there is a possibility that these genetic changes may also affect the host cells. Horizontal gene transfer may occur in human being. This transfer and change of the host body’s gene functioning mainly occurs through processes such as transduction but nevertheless, is usually dependent on the environment (Brody, 2018). If a human consumes an organism that has been treated with a gene that has a lower resistance to specific pathogen, this trait is transferred to the human body. This may result to an increase in the degree of illnesses associated with the specific pathogen and may also lead to an increase in toxicity.
Moreover, there is a possibility of Bt cry-protein toxicity to the human body (Bawa & Anilakumar, 2013). This is a toxin that is produced by Monsanto’s Bt toxin crops. Such crops have been designed such that they are able to produce herbicides which cannot be easily washed off. It has been understood that these toxins have an effect of the immune system. Tests that were conducted on pigs indicated that these toxins led to an increase in the weight of the kidney and moreover, had damaging effects on the goblet cells of the intestines (Prakash, Verma, Bhatia, & Tiwary, 2011). To cap it all, the tests were also conducted on pregnant women and the results were repulsive. It was found out that the toxin can be found on the blood of the mother as well as the fetus.
Monsanto’s ready crops have been designed to withstand pests and bugs through some mineral-chelating designs. These effects can be transferred to the human body after consumption and one of the outcomes is that it can become an antibody. Moreover, studies have indicated that the design of antibiotics and herbicides is the same as that of chelators (Bawa & Anilakumar, 2013). Therefore, there is a change in the bacteria that can be found naturally in the gut system of human beings. These antibiotics go to the extent of killing all the bacteria that are beneficial to the body which in turn means that there is an overgrowth of the negative bacteria (Ashley, 2014). These bacteria will, in turn, lead to a production of very harsh gases which destroy the intestinal walls.
Based on the fact that some of the crops are designed to withstand very high doses of glyphosate, farmers continually invest millions of dollars in spraying their crops with the weed killer. However, research has indicated that this weed killer is a probable carcinogen. As a matter of fact, the world health organization in 2015 openly declared that glyphosate may have carcinogenic effects on the human body. The effects of the weed killer extend from the gut to other systems which include the hormonal system and the reproductive system (World Health organisation, 2018). Other diseases associated with the weed killer include celiac disease and cancer. A study conducted on rats that were fed with the roundup ready crop showed that GMOs consumption led to the fatty liver disease.
Moreover, glyphosate is one of the most persistent toxin and can be found in almost everything that can be consumed by human beings. Studies have found traces of the toxin in breast milk, honey, and even cereal. As a matter of fact, the body cannot easily distinguish glyphosate from the actual amino acids which means that the toxin is stored by the body and can be used later for bodily purposes. This indicates that the long term effects of the intake of the toxin are yet to be understood fully. From a research conducted on the embryos of both chicken and frogs, it was found out that the toxin can be transferred to the embryo. This will, in turn, lead to various defects that are associated with birth. Nevertheless, this is based on the fact that glyphosate has a significant effect on the functioning of the body and formation of cells. These malformations can be clearly observed during pregnancy.
It has also been established that there is a strong link between organ failure and the consumption of genetically modified organisms. As per a study that was conducted on rats on the likelihood of organ failure in mammals, it was observed that rats that were fed on genetically modified corns had liver and kidney failures. However, it was also noted that the failure was not limited to the two organs but also extended to various parts of the body such as the spleen, the heart and the adrenal glands. Continuous research on the possibility of mammalian organ failure also indicated that these results were also dependent on the sex of the specimen as well as the dosage. In essence, it was concluded that there is a likelihood of hepato-renal system failure in human beings (Brody, 2018).
The effects of the consumption of genetically modified foods on the general body have been studied for a long time and it has been found out that these effects are widespread. These effects are widespread and affect the normal functioning of the body. In essence, some of the effects of consumption of these bioengineered foods include an accelerated rate of ageing, immune system dysregulation, a change in the pattern of cell formation in the body and cholesterol control. As such, it has been understood that the consumption of these foods lead to a weakened body. Nevertheless, this was after a research that was conducted in the year 2009 by the Academy of Environmental medicine.
Studies have indicated that there has been an increase in the number of chronic illnesses after the introduction of genetically modified foods. The introduction of genetically modified foods occurred during the year 1996 and it is after this that some chronic illnesses such as autism increased. As a matter of fact, between the years 1996 and 2005, incidences of autism increased from 7% to about 14% (World Health organisation, 2018). Moreover, the introduction of milk that is treated with the Gm hormone resulted to an increase in the number of cancer cases.
Genetically modified organisms and the environment
As initially stated, roundup is weed killer that has continually been overexploited for an increase in the levels of productivity. This has been likened to abuse of anti-biotics. As more and more of this weed killer is deposited to farmlands mainly due to an increase in the resistance of crops, there is a change in the natural ecology of the soil (World Health organisation, 2018). This, in essence, means that there is an increase in the formation of toxic fungi, an increase in soil binding and a destruction of bacteria that are beneficial to the soil. Moreover, the effects of these chemicals do not stop at the farm but rather spread out during run off events. The effects of horizontal gene transfer can be witnessed in waterways as well as other ecosystems that are adjacent to such farmlands especially in the bacteria. In essence, there is an increase in the mutation levels in these systems which, in essence, means unprecedented consequences such as overpopulation and eventual extinction of the naturally occurring organisms.
Moreover, the resistance of crops to pests and other bugs may have an effect on the environment. This is mainly because there is a likelihood that there will be a change in the consumption patterns of the affected organisms. The inability to consume these genetically modified foods may mean that these pests may change the primary crops and transfer to other crops. This is like a continuous cycle where other crops will be affected. Furthermore, it may also mean that there is a likelihood that the minor and unaffected pests will invade these crops and in essence, become a major nuisance.
The advantages of genetically modified organisms
Regardless of the undesired effects of genetically modified organisms. One major advantage of these types of organisms is that they can be engineered for specific health benefits. As a matter of fact, these crops may be designed to fulfil the complete nutritional desire of the human body (World Health organisation, 2018). However, this is done using precise vitamins and minerals that are required for healthier growth. As such, it may be a major stepping stone to ensuring that people who do not have access to foods with all the nutritional needs grow healthy.
Secondly, the design of these GMOs may be aimed at ensuring that there is food security by ensuring that the crops last longer. The natural foods do not last longer in shelves and are easily destroyed by weather factors such as heat and cold. By ensuring that these organisms last longer, they can be transported to the most remote parts of the globe reducing the food deficit.
Genetically modifying crops to grow in a shorter period is one way of ensuring that there is food supply throughout the year. Natural occurring crops take a long period and this leads to food shortage. Furthermore, the land used for the growth and development of genetically modified crops may be small compared to the naturally occurring crops. Natural crops may take double the land used for growth of GMOs, which means that it is one way of ensuring population does not necessarily affect food production
Regardless of the advantages that are associated with the genetically modified organisms, it can be seen that these organisms pose a much greater danger to the environment and human health. This is mainly because of the toxicity that is associated with the gene transfer as well as the chemicals used. Nevertheless, the research indicates that some effects of genetically modified crops are associated with glyphosate and the Bt toxin. These effects of genetically modified organisms are widespread over the body and can be transferred to the fetus. Moreover, it has been understood that the introduction of genetically modified organisms for consumption has led to an increase in the number of chronic illnesses all over the world. As with the environment, GMOs lead to an increase in the use of chemicals which result to destruction of the natural environment mainly through horizontal gene transfer.
Ashley, N. G. (2014, June 26). Safety first-Assessing the health risks of GM foods. Retrieved from The conversation: https://theconversation.com/amp/safety-first-assessing-the-health-risks-of-gm-foods-26099
Bawa, A. S., & Anilakumar, K. R. (2013). Genetically modified foods: safety, risks and public concern- a review. Journal of food science technology.
Brody, j. E. (2018, April 23). Are G.M.O foods safe? Retrieved from the new york times: www.nytimes.com/2018/04/23/well/eat/are-gmo-foods-safe.ntml
Prakash, D., Verma, S., Bhatia, R., & Tiwary, R. N. (2011). risks and precautions of Gentically modified organisms. ISRN Ecology.
Rose, E. (2018, September 10). What is GMO and are GMO foods safe? Retrieved from bulletproof: https://blog.bulletproof.com/what-is-gmo-foods-safety/
World Health organisation. (2018). Food, Genetically modified. Retrieved from health topics: www.who.int/topics/food_genetically_modified/en