5 major health risks of GMOs

If we are not careful, we can find ourselves spending all our meals with GMOs on the plate as their culture has developed. Corn, soybeans, apples, etc. are everywhere. But the health risks go with it, GMOs without danger do not exist as no one really has any perspective on the effects of genetic tinkering. However, some studies show the 5 major risks to come or already there.

You may remember the days when GMOs weren’t even a topic on the screens, when “Frankenfood” didn’t exist, those were the good times? Anecdotally, in the United States, it was around 1994 that a genetically modified tomato, known as Flavr Savr (created by a Californian company called Calgene), became the first commercially produced genetically cultivated food to be approved. for human consumption. Since then, all the dikes have been broken, the list of what is genetically modified is getting longer and longer: 92% of corn, 94% of soybeans and 94% of cotton produced in the United States, for example, have been genetically modified since 2015. .

A GMO is a genetically modified organism. These living organisms contain genetic material that has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory by genetic engineering. Genetic modification of living organisms produces combinations of animal, plant, bacteria and virus genes that do not normally occur in nature or through traditional breeding methods.

Do you want to know one of the main reasons why companies are fond of genetically engineered food? This simply results in higher crop yields. According to a 2018 article published in The New York Times, “Corn, cotton and soybean yields have increased by 20-30% through the use of genetic engineering.” It’s not more complicated than that, it’s more abundant and less expensive to produce. This means that it is now found everywhere in processed foods.

Top 12 GMO foods:

1 corn

2 soybeans

3 rapeseed

4 alfalfa

5 sugar beets

6 cotton (for consumable cottonseed oil)

7 papaya (GMO papaya is grown mainly in China)

8 squash/zucchini

9 livestock feed

10 microbes & enzymes (found in cooking and as processing agents, hard to track because they’re often not even listed on food labels)

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11 apples

12 potatoes

This is only a partial list of GMO foods.

Other common food ingredients that are often GMOs:

  • Vegetable oil, vegetable fats, and margarines that are made with soy, corn, or canola oil
  • Ingredients from soy, including soy flour, soy protein, soy isolates, soy isoflavones, soy lecithin, vegetable protein, tofu, tempeh and soy protein supplements.
  • Corn-derived ingredients like corn flour, corn gluten, corn starch, corn syrup, corn flour, and high fructose (HFC) corn syrup.

5 major health risks of GMOs

As they are still relatively new to human consumption, the dangers of GMO foods continue to be discovered, but some health risks are already known by now.

The main risks of GMOs on human health:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Cancer
  • Nutrition loss
  • Toxicity
  • allergic reactions

  • How can GMOs increase allergies? When an organism is genetically modified by humans, it changes the level of expression of the natural components of that organism, which can aggravate allergies. A scientific review published in 2016 in the journal Food Science and Human Wellness provides a perfect illustration of this scenario:

    An example is the production of soy enriched with the amino acid methionine. The enhanced synthesis of this amino acid is the result of a gene isolated from Brazil nuts. Consequently, some consumers allergic to these nuts have allergic reactions to transgenic soybeans.

    Another scientific review titled “Genetically Modified Foods: Safety, Risks and Public Concerns” points out that new proteins can be synthesized during genetic modifications that can produce “unpredictable allergenic effects”. An example of this phenomenon is when bean plants that were genetically modified to increase cysteine ​​and methionine content had to be discarded when it was realized that the expressed transgene protein was highly allergenic.

  • antibiotic resistance

  • One of the great fears related to the use of GMOs concerns the use of antibiotic resistance genes as markers in GMO crops. The problem is that these antibiotic resistant genes could be transferred to human intestinal bacteria and thus decrease the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy and therefore increase the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics.

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  • cancer

  • In November 2012, the “Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology” published a paper titled “Long-Term Toxicity of Roundup Herbicide and Genetically Modified Roundup-Tolerant Corn. This study received a lot of attention around the world and for good reason — it was the first study that examined the possible effects of a diet of GMO corn treated with Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide under controlled conditions.

    This study reveals that rats fed Monsanto’s glyphosate-resistant corn NK603 for two years developed significantly more tumors and died earlier than control rats that did not eat it. Female subjects developed large mammary tumors more frequently, meanwhile, males experienced four times more large palpable tumors starting 600 days earlier than the control group, in which only one tumor was noted.

    According to the study, the tumors were both cancerous and non-cancerous. Non-cancerous tumors were almost as worrisome or potentially devastating to health as they could cause internal bleeding in animals, compression and obstruction of vital organ function, and the release of harmful toxins.

  • Decline in nutritional quality

  • Genetically modified crops have often altered the nutrient profiles of foods. Some research reports increased levels of antinutrient compounds and lower levels of desirable nutrients in some GMO crops compared to conventional crops. The disruptive and unpredictable nature of the genetic modification process can introduce or elevate allergens, toxins and antinutrients into GMO foods.

  • Toxicity

  • Genetically modified foods are inherently unstable. Each insertion of a new gene into a food is tantamount to playing food safety “roulette” with the companies hoping that the new genetic material does not destabilize a safe food and make it unsafe. Each genetic insertion creates the additional possibility that previously non-toxic elements in foods will become toxic.

    How to avoid GMOs?

    The guarantees of quality that we sometimes like to identify are also a guarantee for GMO-free food. A few avenues to focus on:

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    1) Products from organic farming, recognizable by the AB logo, exclude the presence of GMOs, except fortuitous presence, which must be mentioned.

    – Certain quality labels, such as the Label rouge, are also guaranteed GMO-free from one end of the production chain to the other. Unlike a chicken from Loué or Challans, a low-cost chicken may have been fed with genetically modified cereals.

    – Many AOC cheeses reject the use of GMOs. Products to consume without hesitation: Abondance, Beaufort, Chevrotin, Époisses, Saint-Nectaire, Mont-d’Or, Comté, etc.

  • Buy local products
  • Talk to local vendors and farmers at your markets, visit farms and crops if you can.

    4 Above all, avoid

    – flour, flakes or cornmeal,

    – corn starch and corn starch derivatives, present in particular in glucose syrup,

    – proteins and soy flour,

    – soy, rapeseed and corn vegetable fats,

    – additives from soy: lecithin (E 322), oxidized soybean oil (E 479b);

    – corn additives: oxidized starch (E 1404), starch phosphates (E 1410, E 1412 to E 1414), acetylated starches (E 1420, E 1422), hydroxypropyl starches (E 1440, E1442), succinate d starch (E 1450), acetylated oxidized starch (E1451), caramels (E 150a to E 150d), sorbitol (E 420), mannitol (E421), isomalt (E 953), maltitol (E 965), lactitol (E 966 ), xylitol (E 967), glucono-lactone (E 575), erythorbates (E 315 and E 316).

    Note: the mention “modified or transformed starch” does not mean the presence of GMOs.


    * Presse Santé strives to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace medical advice. []

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