GMOs, everything you should know

GMOs, everything you should know

Surely you have recently seen in the media the news of the recent statement from a american institution who has ensured that transgenic do not produce any kind of harm to health.

This is undoubtedly great news for all those who are dedicated to The science, since it serves to end all the myths and fears of those who consider the genetically modified organisms an unnatural aberration dangerous for the environment and for the human being.

In this article, in addition to telling you about the content of this statement in case you are one of the laggards who have not yet read it, we are also going to talk about transgenic in general, from what they are to the different regulations that must be carried out for your safe production.

What are GMOs?

They are considered transgenic organisms those that have been modified by introducing into your genome of a gene belonging to another organism that gives it some quality that it could not have in any other way.

Although it can be applied to different sectors, the agriculture and food It is one of those that have benefited the most from this type of techniques, although it is also the one that fears generated, due to how directly related it is to the Human health.

What are the GMOs that have already reached our tables?

Although the first cultivation of genetically modified organisms was carried out by Monsanto in 1986 and consists of a plant of Kanamycin antibiotic resistant tobacco, it was not until 1994 when the first transgenic approved for consumption, consisting of a tomato that held mature for longer.

However, soon after, some problems began to be observed in its flavor and its texture that led them to stop consuming directly, although I do know that they are still used in the production of processed tomato.

This was a severe blow to the GMOs, but gradually the techniques used were perfected and some species of corn, cotton and soy modified for resist herbicides And be toxic to insects.

The approval of modified animals for human consumption is even more controversial, although only a few months ago the marketing of the Salmn AcquAdvantage, becoming the first transgenic animal approved to be consumed as food.

What are the main fears generated by GMOs?

For starters, one of the main fears regarding the consumption of genetically modified organisms is its impact on the Human health, especially due to the insertion of components to which the organism is not accustomed and which, therefore, could generate allergies. In addition, it is also considered that some of these components could be toxicity generators and that the markers based on antibiotic resistance could transfer this resistance to pathogenic bacteria for the human being.

On the other hand, it is also said that transgenic may be responsible for a loss of biodiversity, since they could displace the unmodified plants, leading to its disappearance. This would also add to the alleged need for increased use of chemical pesticides, that would be detrimental to plants and humans and, in turn, also decrease biodiversity, by attacking insects and plants considered to be weeds.

What is the law on genetically modified organisms?

Each country has its own legislation, more or less restrictive; But, in general, the matter of this type of food is highly regulated to avoid all the possible damage mentioned above.

In Spain, the law on genetically modified organisms is the law 9/2003. that establishes the legal regime of the contained use, voluntary release and placing on the market of genetically modified organisms. However, despite having an internal law, in Spain the community decisions and regulations established in the framework of the European Community.

Based on all this, we must take into account four general principles necessary for the treatment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs):

  • Prevention principle: Any action in this field must be planned in advance, so that the possible risks that it entails are avoided or minimized as much as possible.
  • Precautionary principle: If you are not completely sure of the safety of an action, it is best not to carry it out.
  • Case-by-case principle: Each specific case involving the production of a genetically modified organism must be studied individually.
  • Step by step principle: The authorization of the use of a GMO must follow a series of hierarchical stages in such a way that if one of them is not exceeded, it is impossible to proceed to the next.

All of these principles apply to three assumptions regulated by law, consisting of confined use, or out of contact with the population or the environment, and the deliberate release to the population for purposes that may or may not be foreign to commercialization.

Why is there no reason to fear GMOs?

Regarding the fears that I explained earlier, the law that I have just explained has a lot to say in many cases, while in others it is enough with the common sense.

Should we fear resistance to antibiotics?

On the one hand, as I mentioned before, on some occasions the genetic insert used to modify the organism is accompanied by a antibiotic resistance gene, so that it can be verified if the insertion has taken place correctly selecting only those that survive the administration of said antibiotic.

This can be dangerous for the human consumption, since this resistance could pass to the bacteria that are pathogenic for us, so the law includes from the year 2008 a common rule to the three assumptions that prohibit the use of this type of resistance in GMOs if it is known that they can end up causing any harm to the Human health or for him environment.

What about the decline in biodiversity?

The decrease in biodiversity by the displacement caused by transgenic plants is not different from that caused by other types of plants.

In these cases, reference to the phenomenon of cross pollination, whereby the pollen of transgenic plants could reach traditional crops through pollinators like the wind or the bees.

On the one hand, this is something that has always happened, since diversity is precisely generated through this type of crosses. On the other hand, let us not forget that if the law allows the release of this type of organisms out of a confined environment It means that they will not cause any harm to the population or the environment, so farmers of non-GMO crops would have nothing to fear. In addition, the very modification that is introduced to the transgenic includes that they are unable to hybridize with wild species.

Regarding insects and weeds, it should be noted that some transgenic species, such as maize species that include in their genome the ability to produce Bt toxin, they have the ability to act directly on the insect that eat the leaves, without affecting those that do not or directly land on other plants, something that does not occur in some of the insecticides accepted in organic crops.

Does the consumption of GMOs cause any kind of health damage?

As I told you at the beginning, the United States National Academy of Sciences has carried out a study analyzing the impact caused by the GMO consumption since they started to develop just thirty years.

As a result, they have revealed that not only are they not responsible for no health problem; but, in addition, pest-resistant organisms have led to a positive impact, since the cases of food poisoning caused by chemical pesticide residues.

In the same way, this study has also found that, for the reasons I mentioned earlier, the GMOs have not contributed to a decrease in biodiversity.

Organic crops, a necessary alternative?

On the other hand, people who reject the consumption of GMOs defend the alternative of organic crops.

This is nothing more than a form of agriculture in which a series of regulations are followed to ensure the development of autonomous farms based on the use of natural resources, without resorting to pesticides or other chemicals.

Although visibly they are all advantages and do not pose any harm to health or the environment, the truth is that with a critical look you can find some drawbacks. For example, the subscriber based on the manure It can cause problems in the case of leafy vegetable crops, since when falling directly on the ground they can be infected by fecal bacteria contained in the fertilizer.

Also, when using non-specific fertilizers, it is more complicated to control pests and contamination by mycotoxins (fungal toxins).

In terms of nutritional value, most positive reports defend the presence of higher levels of vitamin C, something that seems to be totally true, but we must not forget that, as with other substances, our organism requires a specific dose of this vitamin, easily achievable with the usual diet, so that everything that these products contain is not enough none extra benefit.

On the other hand, I do know that a deficiency in some amino acids that are essential for the proper functioning of the body.

In addition, they are sold as the safest form of agriculture for the environment, but its legislation allows the use of products such as alum or copper sulfate, that are highly polluting. This is also complicated because, while the GMOs follow a lot controls, organic crops, being considered innocuous, they are a lot less regulated.

Be that as it may, not everything is black and white. Neither GMOs are bad, nor are organic products a panacea. In fact, the American report that we have told you about recognizes that genetically modified organisms can generate some insects and weeds resistant to pesticides and herbicides, although only in cases where the rules are not followed correctly.

Therefore, the important thing is to be informed and freely choose what type of products we want at our table. But for that it is important to open the mind and study all the possibilities, because there is no worse food for fear than ignorance. And in this type of subject it is very important not to be afraid.

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