The GMOs (Genetically Modified Oragnisms) are the organismswith genetically engineered genetic material. While it sounds absolutescientific and safe, there have been controversies about GMO’s foodsafety. In lack of sufficient awareness,there is a general apprehension if GMO’s are safe to eat. In United States, theregulation of GMOs falls under United States Department of Agriculture (USDA),Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) with each agency dealing with different regions of regulations.
The EPAevaluates for ecological safety. United States Department of Agricultureassesses if something is safe to grow and the FDA decides if it is safe to eat.The EPA requires growers to have a license and also regulates GMOs whichcontain a pesticide, like B. thuringiensis.
The USDA regulates by conducting pre-release field testing. The USDA also runsgroups those evaluate and monitor GMO crops for safety. These groups maydestroy the products and can stop the growing or movement of suspected crops. Under FDA regulation, a genetically modified plant does notneed a license if it meets the following six standardsü Is not a noxious weedü The introduced genetic material that was infusedis stably incorporated into the plants own genesü The operation of the introduced gene is wellknown and does not cause plant disease.ü Is not toxic to non-target organisms.ü Will not cause the production of new plantviruses.
ü Does not contain genetic material from human oranimal pathogen. The firms creating genetically modified food do not have toconsult with FDA for testing of the grown GMO material as the FDA does not testthe products, instead it sets the guidelines for safer food and drugs. Since1992, the FDA has claimed no testing is necessary and considered GMOs as safe.This however, triggered questions like are GMOs the biggest experimentation onhumans without their knowledge? Should GMOs be labeled? The FDA though doesn’tdemand labeling of foods that are genetically modified, with reasoning thatthey are substantially equivalent to non GMO foods. Safety is the most controversial facet of GMO production.There are concerns about allergy, transfer of antibiotic resistant markersalong with other unknown effects.
Also, there are concerns like is there apossibility of ecological effects on other organisms i.e. possible transfer oftrans-genes through cross-pollination, loss of flora or fauna along withbiodiversity? In 1996, Monsanto introduced Roundup ready crops those weregenetically modified to resist Roundup and initially soya beans, followed bycorn were tested for being Roundup ready crops.
(Roundup is the brand-name of aherbicide produced by Monsanto, with active ingredient Glyphosate). Glyphosate traverses rapidly within plants and gathers inmeristems growth areas. It then inhibits protein synthesis and targeted plantsdo not grow.
While this herbicide was primarily invented to control unwantedplants within crops, they actually affected the main crop as well. Such cropwhile contaminate ground water by infiltration through wells, it also isdamaging to foraging animals. Also, glyphosate are known to remove mineralsfrom the soil once sprayed. This necessitated the need for Roundup Ready i.e.GMO modified crops so that effect of glyphosate limits within unwanted weedsand not on main crop, however at the cost of being “GMOed” !