Engineered Foods: A Threat to Children
What is Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engineering is a laboratory technique used by scientists to change the DNA of living organisms.
DNA is the blueprint for the individuality of an organism. The organism relies upon the information stored in its DNA for the management of every biochemical process. The life, growth and unique features of the organism depend on its DNA. The segments of DNA which have been associated with specific features or functions of an organism are called genes.
Molecular biologists have discovered many enzymes which change the structure of DNA in living organisms. Some of these enzymes can cut and join strands of DNA. Using such enzymes, scientists learned to cut specific genes from DNA and to build customized DNA using these genes. They also learned about vectors, strands of DNA such as viruses, which can infect a cell and insert themselves into its DNA.
With this knowledge, scientists started to build vectors which incorporated genes of their choosing and used the new vectors to insert these genes into the DNA of living organisms. Genetic engineers believe they can improve the foods we eat by doing this. For example, tomatoes are sensitive to frost. This shortens their growing season. Fish, on the other hand, survive in very cold water. Scientists identified a particular gene which enables a flounder to resist cold and used the technology of genetic engineering to insert this “antifreeze” gene into a tomato. This makes it possible to extend the growing season of the tomato.
At first glance, this might look exciting to some people. Deeper consideration reveals serious dangers.
Genetically Engineered Foods Pose Higher Risk for Children
Young, fast-developing bodies are influenced most
Children’s bodies develop at a fast pace and are more likely to be influenced and show the effects of genetically modified (GM) foods. That is why independent scientists used young adolescent rats in their GM feeding studies. The rats showed significant health damage after only 10 days, including damaged immune systems and digestive function, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partial atrophy of the liver, and potentially pre-cancerous cell growth in the intestines.
Children are more susceptible to allergies
Children are three to four times more prone to allergies than adults. Infants below two years old are at greatest risk—they have the highest incidence of reactions, especially to new allergens encountered in the diet. Even tiny amounts of allergens can sometimes cause reactions in children. Breast fed infants can be exposed via the mother’s diet, and fetuses may possibly be exposed in the womb. Michael Meacher, the former minister of the environment for the UK, said, “Any baby food containing GM products could lead to a dramatic rise in allergies.” GM corn is particularly problematic for children, as they generally eat a higher percentage of corn in their diet. Further, allergic children often rely on corn protein. Mothers using cornstarch as a talc substitute on their children’s skin might also inadvertently expose them via inhalation.
Children are more susceptible to problems with milk
Milk and dairy products from cows treated with the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH) contain an increased amount of the hormone IGF-1, which is one of the highest risk factors associated with breast and prostate cancer. The Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association called for more studies to determine if ingesting “higher than normal concentrations of [IGF-1] is safe for children, adolescents, and adults.” Sam Epstein, M.D., Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and author of eight books, wrote, “rbGH and its digested products could be absorbed from milk into blood, particularly in infants, and produce hormonal and allergic effects.” He described how “cell-stimulating growth factors…could induce premature growth and breast stimulation in infants, and possibly promote breast cancer in adults.” Dr. Epstein pointed out that the hormones in cows could promote the production of “steroids and adrenaline-type stressor chemicals…likely to contaminate milk and may be harmful, particularly to infants and young children.”
Children are more susceptible to nutritional problems A 2002 report by the UK’s Royal Society said that genetic modification “could lead to unpredicted harmful changes in the nutritional state of foods.” They therefore recommended that potential health effects of GM foods be rigorously researched before being fed to pregnant or breast-feeding women, elderly people, those suffering from chronic disease, and babies. Likewise, according to former minister Meacher, unexpected changes in estrogen levels in GM soy used in infant formula “might affect sexual development in children,” and that “even small nutritional changes could cause bowel obstruction.”
Children are in danger from antibiotic resistant diseases
Children prone to ear and other infections are at risk of facing antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, due to the use of antibiotic resistant genes in GM food. The British Medical Association cited this as one reason why they called for a moratorium of GM foods.
The above articles come from the following organizations. Please visit their websites for additional information and resources:
- Mother’s for Natural Law: www.safe-food.org/-issue/ge.html
- Institute for Responsible Technology: www.seedsofdeception.com/utility/showArticle/?objectID=170
You are eating genetically engineered food. Is it good for you? Do you have a choice?
Genetic engineering is the largest food experiment in the history of the world. We are all the guinea pigs.
There are about 40 varieties of genetically engineered crops approved for marketing in the U.S. As a result, 60-70% of the foods on your grocery shelves contain genetically engineered (GE) components.
Genetically engineered foods contain substances that have never been a part of the human food supply. They are not subjected to rigorous pre-market safety testing. And THEY ARE NOT LABELED.
Is genetic engineering safe for you and your family? Safe for the environment? Safe for the future of mankind? No long-term studies have been done. No one can answer these questions.
Visit Mother’s for Natural Law www.safe-food.org/-issue/ge.html
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #06.
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