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Methylmercury, Amalgams, and Children’s Health

Environmental Health Perspectives
Environmental Health Perspectives
Publication Date
  • Perspectives
  • Correspondence
  • Agricultural Science
  • Biology
  • Engineering


workingfrontpgs The Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods “Genetically Modified Foods: Breeding Uncertainty” (Schmidt 2005) overlooked many serious concerns about the environmen- tal and health risks of this new technology. Potential problems from antibiotic-resistant genes used in gene-altered crops, risks from unintended effects of the genetic engineering process, the increases in pesticide use stem- ming from widespread planting of gene- spliced varieties—these and several other concerns were ignored or hardly mentioned in the lengthy article. Additional information on this topic is available from the Center for Food Safety (CFS 2000, 2004). Instead, Schmidt’s article states that “GM agriculture is here to stay” (Schmidt 2005) and gives readers the false impression that safety and regulatory issues have been ade- quately addressed by industry and govern- ment. Nothing could be further from the truth. For example, regarding the risk of allergies from gene-altered foods, Schmidt stated that biotech companies avoid allergy problems by avoiding genes from the most common allergens. However, in an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, Nestle (1996) pointed out that this approach leaves many uncertainties: Most biotechnology companies use microorgan- isms rather than food plants as gene donors, even though the allergenic potential of these newly introduced microbial proteins is uncertain, unpre- dictable, and untestable …. Because FDA require- ments do not apply to foods that are rarely allergenic or to donor organisms of unknown allergenicity, the policy would appear to favor industry over consumer protection. Schmidt (2005) went on to assert that after a 1993 study alerted them to the possibil- ity of introducing allergens, biotech companies developed better screens and learned to aban- don varieties that could not be deemed aller- gen-free. Far from abandoning a risky new variety 5 years after this study, industry mar- keted a new genetically engineered corn vari- ety,

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