For concerned folks here is a scientific paper with citations about GMO foods. Be forewarned: It is a substantial post.
American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM)
6505 E. Central Avenue, #296
Wichita, KS 67206
Genetically Modified Foods
According to the World Health Organization, Genetically Modified
Organisms(GMOs) are "organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has
been altered in such a way that does not occur naturally."1 This
technology is also referred to as "genetic engineering", "biotechnology"
or "recombinant DNA technology" and consists of randomly inserting
genetic fragments of DNA from one organism to another, usually from a
different species. For example, an artificial combination of genes that
includes a gene to produce the pesticide Cry1Ab protein (commonly known
as Bt toxin), originally found in Bacillus thuringiensis, is inserted in
to the DNA of corn randomly. Both the location of the transferred gene
sequence in the corn DNA and the consequences of the insertion differ
with each insertion. The plant cells that have taken up the inserted
gene are then grown in a lab using tissue culture and/or nutrient medium
that allows them to develop into plants that are used to grow GM food
Natural breeding processes have been safely utilized for the past
several thousand years. In contrast, "GE crop technology abrogates
natural reproductive processes, selection occurs at the single cell
level, the procedure is highly mutagenic and routinely breeches genera
barriers, and the technique has only been used commercially for 10 years."3
Despite these differences, safety assessment of GM foods has been based
on the idea of "substantial equivalence" such that "if a new food is
found to be substantially equivalent in composition and nutritional
characteristics to an existing food, it can be regarded as safe as the
conventional food."4 However, several animal studies indicate serious
health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility,
immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes
associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell
signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney,
spleen and gastrointestinal system.
There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse
health effects. There is causation as defined by Hill's Criteria in the
areas of strength of association, consistency, specificity, biological
gradient, and biological plausibility.5 The strength of association and
consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal
Specificity of the association of GM foods and specific disease
processes is also supported. Multiple animal studies show significant
immune dysregulation, including upregulation of cytokines associated
with asthma, allergy, and inflammation. 6,11 Animal studies also show
altered structure and function of the liver, including altered lipid and
carbohydrate metabolism as well as cellular changes that could lead to
accelerated aging and possibly lead to the accumulation of reactive
oxygen species (ROS). 7,8,10 Changes in the kidney, pancreas and spleen
have also been documented. 6,8,10 A recent 2008 study links GM corn with
infertility, showing a significant decrease in offspring over time and
significantly lower litter weight in mice fed GM corn.8 This study also
found that over 400 genes were found to be expressed differently in the
mice fed GM corn. These are genes known to control protein synthesis and
modification, cell signaling, cholesterol synthesis, and insulin
regulation. Studies also show intestinal damage in animals fed GM foods,
including proliferative cell growth9 and disruption of the intestinal
Regarding biological gradient, one study, done by Kroghsbo, et al., has
shown that rats fed transgenic Bt rice trended to a dose related
response for Bt specific IgA. 11
Also, because of the mounting data, it is biologically plausible for
Genetically Modified Foods to cause adverse health effects in humans.
In spite of this risk, the biotechnology industry claims that GM foods
can feed the world through production of higher crop yields. However, a
recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists reviewed 12 academic
studies and indicates otherwise: "The several thousand field trials over
the last 20 years for genes aimed at increasing operational or intrinsic
yield (of crops) indicate a significant undertaking. Yet none of these
field trials have resulted in increased yield in commercialized major
food/feed crops, with the exception of Bt corn."12 However, it was
further stated that this increase is largely due to traditional breeding
Therefore, because GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of
toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and
metabolic, physiologic and genetic health and are without benefit, the
AAEM believes that it is imperative to adopt the precautionary
principle, which is one of the main regulatory tools of the European
Union environmental and health policy and serves as a foundation for
several international agreements.13 The most commonly used definition is
from the 1992 Rio Declaration that states: "In order to protect the
environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by
States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of
serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall
not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to
prevent environmental degradation."13
Another often used definition originated from an environmental meeting
in the United States in 1998 stating: "When an activity raises threats
to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be
taken, even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully
established scientifically. In this context, the proponent of an
activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof (of
the safety of the activity)."13
With the precautionary principle in mind, because GM foods have not been
properly tested for human consumption, and because there is ample
evidence of probable harm, the AAEM asks:
•Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the
public to avoid GM foods when possible and provide educational materials
concerning GM foods and health risks.
•Physicians to consider the possible role of GM foods in the disease
processes of the patients they treat and to document any changes in
patient health when changing from GM food to non-GM food.
•Our members, the medical community, and the independent scientific
community to gather case studies potentially related to GM food
consumption and health effects, begin epidemiological research to
investigate the role of GM foods on human health, and conduct safe
methods of determining the effect of GM foods on human health.
•For a moratorium on GM food, implementation of immediate long term
independent safety testing, and labeling of GM foods, which is necessary
for the health and safety of consumers.
(This statement was reviewed and approved by the Executive Committee of
the American Academy of Environmental Medicine on May 8, 2009.)
Submitted by Amy Dean, D.O. and Jennifer Armstrong, M.D.
Bibliography: Genetically Modified Foods Position Paper AAEM
1.World Health Organization. (Internet).(2002). Foods derived from
modern technology: 20 questions on genetically modified foods. Available
2.Smith, JM. Genetic Roulette. Fairfield: Yes Books.2007. p.10
3.Freese W, Schubert D. Safety testing and regulation of genetically
engineered foods. Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews. Nov
4.Society of Toxicology. The safety of genetically modified foods
produced through biotechnology. Toxicol. Sci. 2003; 71:2-8.
5.Hill, AB. The environment and disease: association or causation?
Proceeding of the Royal Society of Medicine 1965; 58:295-300.
6.Finamore A, Roselli M, Britti S, et al. Intestinal and peripheral
immune response to MON 810 maize ingestion in weaning and old mice. J
Agric. Food Chem. 2008; 56(23):11533-11539.
7.Malatesta M, Boraldi F, Annovi G, et al. A long-term study on female
mice fed on a genetically modified soybean:effects on liver ageing.
Histochem Cell Biol. 2008; 130:967-977.
8.Velimirov A, Binter C, Zentek J. Biological effects of transgenic
maize NK603xMON810 fed in long term reproduction studies in mice.
Report-Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth. 2008.
9.Ewen S, Pustzai A. Effects of diets containing genetically modified
potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small
10.Kilic A, Aday M. A three generational study with genetically modified
Bt corn in rats: biochemical and histopathological investigation. Food
Chem. Toxicol. 2008; 46(3):1164-1170.
11.Kroghsbo S, Madsen C, Poulsen M, et al. Immunotoxicological studies
of genetically modified rice expression PHA-E lectin or Bt toxin in
Wistar rats. Toxicology. 2008; 245:24-34.
12.Gurain-Sherman,D. 2009. Failure to yield: evaluating the performance
of genetically engineered crops. Cambridge (MA): Union of Concerned
13.Lofstedt R. The precautionary principle: risk, regulation and
politics. Merton College, Oxford. 2002.
14.Eggen, D. Obama targets food safety: president announces new leaders,
groups to upgrade laws. Washington Post. March 15, 2009. p. A02.