When it comes to food quality, most European countries tend to err on the side of caution. There are MANY questions, concerns, and controversies over genetically modified foods, the most solid of which is that despite the fact that we’ve mapped genomes, we still have little to no understanding of what many genes do or how they interact with other genes.
We we do know is that modifying one gene for a desirable effect will almost certainly affect how other genes behave. That may involve raising or lowering the threshold of environmental stimuli required to turn the other gene on or off, or turning the other genes on or off completely.
Since we have a poor understanding of what the various genes in a specific plant do, this may introduce toxins into the life-cycle of the plant, toxins which may not harm the plant at all, but which may prove to be either acutely or chronically harmful to humans. It’s fairly esay to detect any acutely harmful chemicals in trials. Chronically harmful chemicals, on the other hand, take years to detect, requiring very long-term studies involving tends of thousands of people.
How prevalent is this threat? According to the American Cancer Society, “Environmental factors (as opposed to hereditary factors) account for an estimated 75%-80% of cancer cases and deaths in the US.” – p. 51, “Cancer Facts and Figures 2012,” American Cancer Society. We’re aware of some carcinogens, but strongly suspect there are many more low-level carcinogens. We also suspect that because of their high numbers and widespread use throughout modern society, they are responsible for much, if not most cancer in humans.
Cancer, however, is merely one of many human ailments known to be affected or caused by environmental factors.
Our bodies evolved over millions of years to work in harmony with nature, including being resistant to most things in the environment which would have otherwise caused us harm. When we introduce new environmental factors, whether they be in the form of man-made compounds, increased concentrations of compounds normally found in nature, or genetically modified foods, we have introduced an unknown factor.
The bottom line is this: Short-term trials do not uncover long-term health concerns. Only long-term studies will do this, and it’s both premature and irresponsible for any government or scientific body to declare genetically modified foods as “safe” on the basis of short-term trials.
I agree with the graphic. Just label it. We’re not asking you to pull genetically modified foods off the shelf. We do, however, reserve the right to decide for ourselves whether or not we want to eat genetically modified foods.