5 Human Health Effects of Genetically Engineered Crops

The focus on single plant components in the comparison of crops from organic and conventional production, as discussed further below, disregards the fact that compounds in food do not exist and act separately, but in their natural context [49]. In vitro studies of effects of entire foods in biological systems such as cell lines can therefore potentially point at effects that cannot be predicted from chemical analyses of foods, although a limitation is that most cells in humans are not in direct contact with food or food extracts. Some recent reviews have compiled the findings [24,25,26] from clinical studies addressing the association between consumption of organic food and health. These studies are scant and generally based on very small populations and short durations, thus limiting statistical power and the possibility to identify long-term effects.

Other research suggests that selenium, taken alone or with other nutrients, does not reduce the risk of death. Ovarian cancer. Research suggests that there is no link between selenium consumption in the diet and the risk for ovarian cancer. Mercury poisoning.

However, the committee concluded that this topic has not been adequately explored. It will be important to conduct research that leads to an understanding of whether GE foods or GE foods coupled with other chemicals have biologically relevant effects on the gut microbiota. The committee was able to find data on the incidence of celiac disease in the United Kingdom (West et al., 2014; Figure 5-11) and a detailed study conducted by the Mayo Clinic in one county in Minnesota (Murray et al., 2003; Ludvigsson et al., 2013).

The differences were considered to be small and within the range of published values for other soybean varieties. They were therefore “considered not biologically relevant.” In compositional analysis, as in some of the whole-food animal testing, it is difficult to know how much of the variance and range in values for the components is due to the crop variety, the growing conditions, and the specific laboratory experimental equipment. In the United States, regulatory agencies require that the comparison be between the GE crop and its isogenic conventionally bred counterpart grown in side-by-side plots. In those cases, it is hard to attribute differences to anything but the genetic-engineering process.

In a longitudinal birth cohort study among farmworkers in California (the CHAMACOS cohort), maternal urinary concentrations of organophosphate metabolites in pregnancy were associated with abnormal reflexes in neonates [120], adverse mental development at 2 years of age [121], attention problems at three and a half and 5 years [122], and poorer intellectual development at 7 years [123]. In accordance with this, a birth cohort study from New York reported impaired cognitive development at ages 12 and 24 months and 6 – 9 years related to maternal urine concentrations of organophosphates in pregnancy [124]. In another New York inner-city birth cohort, the concentration of the organophosphate chlorpyrifos in umbilical cord blood was associated with delayed psychomotor and mental development in children in the first 7 years of life [125], poorer working memory and full-scale IQ at 7 years of age [126], structural changes, including decreased cortical thickness, in the brain of the children at school age [127], and mild to moderate tremor in the arms at 11 years of age [128]. Based on these and similar studies, chlorpyrifos has recently been categorised as a human developmental neurotoxicant [129]. Recent reviews of neurodevelopmental effects of organophosphate insecticides in humans conclude that exposure during pregnancy – at levels commonly found in the general population – likely have negative effects on children’s neurodevelopment [130,131,132].

A general statement is sometimes made that the difference is within the range for the species, but because the range of values for the species typically come from multiple laboratories, such a statement is not useful unless the laboratories, instrumentation, and health of the animals were known to be comparable. Hammond et al. (2004), for the number of units (cages with two animals) per treatment.

However, no systematic testing is available since testing for neurotoxicity – especially developmental neurotoxicity – has not consistently been required as part of the registration process, and allowable exposures may therefore not protect against such effects. At least 100 different pesticides are known to cause adverse neurological effects in adults [129], and all of these substances must therefore be suspected of being capable of damaging also developing brains. The need for prevention of these adverse outcomes is illustrated by the recent cost calculations [140] and the additional risk that pesticide exposures may lead to important diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

  • A general question that remains for all whole-food studies using animals is, How many animals, tested for how long, are needed to assess food safety when a whole food is tested?
  • There are indications that organic crops contain less cadmium compared to conventional crops.
  • Collectively, in vitro and animal studies have demonstrated that the crop production system does have an impact on certain aspects of cell life, the immune system, and overall growth and development.

When benefits are offset by a contaminant, a situation of inverse confounding occurs, which may be very difficult to adjust for [104]. The potential negative effects of dietary pesticide residues on consumer health should of course not be used as an argument for reducing fruit and vegetable consumption.

These advise adult alcohol consumers on those drinking levels and consumption patterns that entail lower risks for health, and frequently include specific advice for older adults, people taking medication, and pregnant and breastfeeding women (RARHA 2016). In addition to (or instead of) low-risk drinking guidelines, some EU Member States have introduced maximum amounts of alcohol consumption within their dietary guidelines.

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The most commonly used laboratory animal species are rats and mice of various strains. The normal lifespan of laboratory rat strains varies from 2 to 3 years; that of mice is 18 months to 2 years. There is extensive literature from public-sector and private-sector laboratories on the variables that affect the lifespan of laboratory rats. It includes the source of the animals, whether they are in-bred or out-bred, the type (for example, synthetic, grain-based) and abundance (fixed amounts versus ad libitum feeding) of diets, and housing (single or multiple animals per cage, lighting, air changes, and so on).

On the basis of data collected in the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Rubio-Tapia et al. (2012) reported a prevalence of celiac disease of 0.71 percent with 1.01 percent in non-Hispanic whites in a sample of 7,798 subjects. It should be noted that there has not been any commercial production of GE wheat, rye, or barley in the world.

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