FDA’s failure to require safety testing of GEfoods could pose a very real health threat to millionsof Americans. A significant body of scientific evi-dence, including findings of FDA’s own scientists,shows that the genetic engineering of foods cantransform safe foods into dangerous products.Below is a summary of the documented potentialhuman health threats posed by genetically engi-neered foods. Much of the scientific support forthese health hazards has comefrom the over 44,000 pages of discovery provided to CFS aspart of its ongoing lawsuitagainst the FDA for its failureto require testing and labelingof GE foods.
Six Potential HumanHealth Concerns
Genetically engineered foodsare different from other foods.Genetic engineering allows, forthe first time, foreign genes,bacterial and viral vectors, viralpromoters, and antibiotic mark-ersystems to be engineeredinto food. These genetic “cas-settes” are new to the human diet and should besubject to extensive safety testing.
Instead, in 1992the FDA ruled, without any scientific basis, thatgenetically engineered foods present no differentrisks than traditional foods.
FDA’s own scientistsridiculed this unscientific agency view of geneticengineering. “What happened to the scientific ele-ments in [the] document?” one asked.
FDA scien-tists consistently stated that “[t]here is a profounddifference between the types of unexpected effectsfrom traditional breeding and genetic engineering.... [T]his difference should be and is notaddressed.”
What are the new “unexpected effects”and healthrisks posed by genetic engineering?
Genetically engineered foods are inherently unsta-ble. Each insertion of a novel gene, and the accom-panying “cassette” of promoters, antibiotic markersystems, and vectors, is random. GE food produc-ers simply do not know where their genetic “cas-sette” is being inserted in the food, nor do theyknow enough about the genetic/chemical makeupof foods to establish a “safe” place for such inser-tions.
As a result, each gene insertion into a foodamounts to playing food safety “roulette,” with thecompanies hoping that the new genetic materialdoes not destabilize a safe food and make it haz-ardous. Each genetic insertion creates the addedpossibility that formerly nontoxic elements in thefood could become toxic.
FDA was well aware of the “genetic instability”problem prior to establishingtheir no-testing policy. FDAscientists warned that thisproblem could create danger-ous toxins in food and was asignificant health risk. The sci-entists specifically warned thatthe genetic engineering of foods could result in “increasedlevels of known naturally occur-ringtoxicants, appearance of new, not previously identifiedtoxicants, increased capabilityof concentrating toxic sub-stances from the environment(e.g., pesticides or heavy met-als).” These same FDA scien-tistsrecommended that longterm toxicological tests berequired prior to the marketing of GE foods.
FDA officials also were aware that safety testingon the first genetically engineered food, the Calgene
tomato, had shown that consumption of this product resulted in stomach lesions in labora-tory rats.
Even more significantly, FDA hadalready concluded that genetic engineering was apossible cause for the 37 deaths and 1,500 disablingillnesses caused by consumption of the dietary sup-plement L-tryptophan. Showa Denko, a Japanesecompany, had begun using genetic engineering toproduce the dietary supplement in the late 1980s. Itis suspected that the genetic engineering of the sup-plement created a toxic contaminant by-product which in turn caused the deaths and illnesses.
FDA’s response to the potential toxicity prob-lem with genetically engineered foods was to ignoreit. They disregarded their own scientists, the clearscientific evidence and the deaths and illnessesalready attributed to this problem. The agencyrefused to require pre-market toxicological testingfor GE foods or any toxicity monitoring. FDAmade these decisions with no scientific basis and
T HE HI DDE N HE A L T H HA Z A R D S OF GE NE T I C A L L Y E N GI NE E R E D F O OD S
FDA’s failure to requiresafety testing of GE foodscould pose a very real health threat. A significant body of scientific evidence,including the findings of FDA’s own scientists,shows that the genetic engineering of foods cantransform safe foods intodangerous products.
HIDDEN HEALTH HAZARDS (
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