Genetically modified foods have been around for some time now, yet the debate continues as to whether these foods are safe for human consumption. Genetic modification requires manipulation of a plant or animal’s DNA to make them more resilient to the environment, pests, to have a higher nutritional value, or be able to withstand extreme weather conditions.
How is genetic modification achieved?
In order to change an organism’s DNA, gene sequences either have to be added or removed. In some cases, genetic modification in a plant is achieved by piggybacking a particular gene on a plant virus, such as the Cauliflower Mosaic virus. It has been discovered that the most commonly used genetic regulatory sequence (i.e. that which drives the gene expression within the plant), also encodes a gene fragment of the virus, in addition to the desired genetic trait being inserted.
GM foods could potentially damage human health…
According to an article in Independent Science News,3 the researchers wrote, “In general, viral genes expressed in plants raise both agronomic and human health concerns. This is because many viral genes function to disable their host in order to facilitate pathogen invasion. Often, this is achieved by incapacitating specific anti-pathogen defenses. Incorporating such genes could clearly lead to undesirable and unexpected outcomes in agriculture. Furthermore, viruses that infect plants are often not that different from viruses that infect humans. Thus, in various ways, inserting viral genes accidentally into crop plants and the food supply confers a significant potential for harm.”
GM food regulation in Australia.
Many groups are still deeply concerned that the tampering with DNA may cause unexpected and deadly side effects. In Australia, GM foods are regulated by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Code underStandard 1.5.2 – Food produced using Gene Technology. GM foods receive individual pre-market safety assessments prior to use in foods for human consumption however, it is impossible to predict all of the potential effects on human health and the environment. Consequently, some public health experts advocate caution, as we do not know whether GM foods are safe. 
Why is genetic modification such a concern?
Some of the foods created using genetic modification include soybeans, alfalfa, wheat, potato and rice. Concern exists that in the creation of these hybrids, new allergens may be created, pesticide resistant insect species may emerge, and unintended cross-contamination or cross breeding may occur.
Recent studies in Europe and Russia have shown that rats fed genetically modified maize perished prematurely, had a greater rate of tumor development and developed chronic kidney deficiencies.
Since December 2002, Australian law has required that food labels must show if food has been genetically modified or contains GM ingredients, or whether GM additives or processing aids remain in the final food product.The label on the package must include the statement ‘genetically modified’ in conjunction with the name of the food or ingredient or processing aid. However, this does not apply to food bought at retail outlets.
Make an informed decision before you buy…
As we do not know whether these genetically modified foods are safe, it is up to us, as the consumer, to make our own decision on whether we will buy them or not. As always, making an informed decision is always best. But in light of recent research, it may not be long before these products are taken off the shelves for good.
Source – Analysis Identifies Shocking Problems With Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered Corn – www.mercola.com
Seralini, G.E et al. Longterm Toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup genetically modified maize
. Food Chem Toxicol.