Harmful Effects of the Agent
Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are a broad group of plants, animals, and bacteria that are engineered for a wide variety of applications ranging from agricultural production to scientific research. The types of potential hazards posed by GMO’s vary according to the type of organism being modified and its intended application. Most of the concern surrounding GMO’s relates to their potential for negative effects on the environment and human health. Because GMO’s that could directly effect human health are primarily products that can enter the human food supply, this website focuses on genetically modified food. To date, the only types of products that have been approved for human consumption in the U.S. are genetically modified plants (FDA website).
All genetically modified foods that have been approved are considered by the government to be as safe as their traditional counterparts and are generally unregulated (FDA website). However, there are several types of potential health effects that could result from the insertion of a novel gene into an organism. Health effects of primary concern to safety assessors are production of new allergens, increased toxicity, decreased nutrition, and antibiotic resistance (Bernstein et al., 2003).
Food Allergy affects approximately 5% of children and 2% of adults in the U.S. and is a significant public health threat (Bakshi, 2003). Allergic reactions in humans occur when a normally harmless protein enters the body and stimulates an immune response (Bernstein et al., 2003). If the novel protein in a GM food comes from a source that is know to cause allergies in humans or a source that has never been consumed as human food, the concern that the protein could elicit an immune response in humans increases. Although no allergic reactions to GM food by consumers have been confirmed, in vitro evidence suggesting that some GM products could cause an allergic reaction has...