Other Research on GE's Health and Environmental Impacts

Standard Page - 2011-07-11
More and more independent studies, by scientists from around the world, are revealing that genetically engineered crops is not as simple – and more harmful – than their parent companies would have us believe.

More and more independent studies, by scientists from around the world, are revealing that genetically engineered crops is not as simple – and more harmful – than their parent companies would have us believe.

To demonstrate the exaggerated claims of the GE industry, a Greenpeace volunteer is served the cooked equivalent of 3.7 kilos of mock Golden Rice, the amount needed to get the required daily intake of Vitamin A.

Genetically engineered Bt cotton has been grown in China since 1996. This cotton contains a gene from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows it to produce a toxin deadly to bollworm, a common pest of cotton. Today, millions of hectares of Bt cotton are grown in China.

However, a 10-year-study in northern China found that the growth of GE cotton was promoting the rise in other insects that had previously been less common. Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences tracked pest populations at 38 locations, including three million hectares of cotton and 26 million hectares of other crops. Published in May 2010 in Science, the study found that mirid bugs, have increased more than 12 times since 1997. These bugs had previously only been minor problems but are now threats to other vegetable and fruit crops.

A November 2008 study by the Italian government found that mice fed genetically engineered corn exhibited various changes to their immune system. The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

A study by University of Indiana scientists, published in October 2007, found that a wide variety of GE corn can harm aquatic ecosystems. Pollen, leaves and other parts from GE corn containing the Bt toxin could travel widely, and were associated with greater mortality in caddisflies, a type of aquatic insect.

A 2006 study by Canadian scientists, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found DNA from genetically modified rapeseed oil in the gut tissue of pigs.

In November 2005, Australian scientists found that GE peas caused allergic reactions in mice. The peas were given a gene from a bean plant, which produced a protein to protect against weevils. People and animals displayed no allergic reactions to the protein when it was extracted from the bean plant. But when it was part of the pea plant, the protein was slightly different, due to the different ways the two plants encode proteins from genes. This shows that even though a gene may be harmless in one organism, it may have small but critical differences inserted in another organism, due to the different ways that each organism expresses their DNA. After this study, Australia abandoned its attempts to make GE peas.

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