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Genomics and Biology. Biotechnology and genomics.
Potential unintended effects of GM foods on human health


Unintended effects of GM crops, such as enhanced levels of anti nutritional or toxic constituents in food, have also been found in conventional breeding methods. Organisms derived from conventional breeding methods, including tissue cultures, may have a somewhat enhanced possibility for genetic imbalance. It is believed that introduction of a new gene may lead to enhanced level of toxicity or decreased level of nutritional values as found in the natural organisms. An analysis of the impact considering all the factors is important to avoid complications and post introduction issues.

Potential immune responses and allergy agents by GM foods:
Food allergies or hypersensitivities are adverse reactions to foods triggered by the immune system. Allergic reactions to traditional foods are well known. The major food allergens are proteins in and derived from eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts (e.g. almonds, nuts, cashews and walnuts) and wheat. Whereas the groups of main allergens are well known and advanced testing methods have been elaborated, traditionally developed foods are not generally tested for allergens before market introduction.

The application of modern biotechnology to crops has the potential to make food less safe if the newly added protein proves to cause an allergic reaction once in the food supply. Risk-assessment protocols for food allergy examine three: (1) allergenicity assessment (is the food or elements in the food a potential cause of allergy) (2) exposure assessment (how likely is it that people will encounter the allergy causing agent); and (3) susceptibility analysis (how do those prone to allergy react to this new food).

Monitoring of human health and environmental safety:
In the future, GMOs may gain wider approval for environmental release, either with or without approval to enter them in the human food supply. In such situations, it will be important to consider whether or not to apply post market monitoring for unexpected environmental spread of the GMOs) that may pose food safety hazards. Methods for detection of such GMOs in the environment are likely to involve application of two well-established bodies of scientific methodologies:
(1) diagnostic, DNA-based markers
(2) sampling protocols that are adequate (in terms of statistical power) and cost-effective.

While GM crops have tried to address one of the most potent problems being faced by the mankind- i.e to help food security and alleviate poverty, there is a need to carry out a proper assessment of all the factors so that adverse impact of the GM crops may be considered. While a lot of scientific studies are being developed on the issue so that a set of guidelines and standards may be developed and followed by all. This would require a careful and considerate assessment of the interests involved and ways and means to balance often such conflicting interests.
 

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