What are Genetically Modified Foods?

In light of the genetically modified salmon currently before the FDA for approval, I thought it would be worth covering exactly what genetically modified means, and why it’s an incredibly bad idea to let genetically modified foods into our food market.

What exactly does “genetically modified” mean?

Scientists create genetically modified animals or plants by inserting DNA from one species into cells of another. Usually this is done in an attempt to come up with a new solution to a problem. For example, in an attempt to create stronger bullet proof vests, scientists have added spider genes to goats. Jellyfish genes were added to pigs causing their noses to glow like Rudolph’s.

Essentially, they are trying to play God. Obviously in the natural world, a jellyfish wouldn’t mate with a pig, nor would a spider mate with a goat. The point of this article isn’t to begin a religious debate, but to point out the dangers of genetically engineering our food.

Cells have the amazing ability to protect themselves from such mutation; therefore, scientists have to come up with ways to get around nature’s security system. Several methods are used, including the following:

  • injecting the DNA into viruses, then into the cells;
  • coating microscopic metal discs with the DNA, then injecting them into the cells;
  • injecting newly fertilized eggs with the DNA;
  • using electric shock to create holes in sperm cells and injecting the DNA through the holes.

Why is this Unsafe?

Our current understanding of DNA is not strong enough to support using genetically modified foods. We don’t know what side effects could occur. Because genetic modification is truly in its experimental stages, it is ridiculous to assume that we can safely consume these man-made creations.

One concern shared by many has to do with how scientists mark the cells they’ve attempted to modify. To track if their efforts are successful, scientists attach marker genes to the cells; these marker genes are resistant to antibiotics. This raises the question: if we eat these cells, will we then be resistant to antibiotics?

As Americans, citizens of the greatest nation in the world, we automatically assume our safety is guaranteed. Unfortunately, the government and FDA are more concerned with lining their pockets with riches than they are with keeping its citizens safe. While food safety is the last thing we think to worry about, dangerous things are being done to our foods that we aren’t even aware of.

Genetically Modified Foods Have Not Been Tested

Surprisingly, no testing has been performed to ensure that genetically modified foods are safe for consumption. This is surprising not only because of the GM salmon currently before the FDA, but also because we are already eating them.

The industry repeatedly states that humans have already been eating genetically modified foods without harm; however, nobody is monitoring the consumption, so how do they know? Consider these facts:

  • soy allergies in the UK increased by 50% after genetically modified soy was introduced;
  • since Americans have begun eating genetically modified foods, the number of food related illnesses reported to the CDC has doubled

This alone is enough to say that we need tests done to determine the safety of these new foods.

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