Frankenfoods and Their Effects

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Frankenfoods - STUDY QUESTIONS

1. Find a definition of “genetically modified organism.” How are genetically modified organisms different from non-genetically modified organisms?

When a gene from one organism is purposely moved to improve or change another organism in a laboratory, the result is a genetically modified organism (GMO). It is also sometimes called "transgenic" for transfer of genes.

Genetically modified organism have a better adaptation or quality than the non-genetically modified organism. For example: GM cow produces more high quality milk than a normal cow.

2. The recent acts of activists intent on destruction of research plots included plants altered by molecular as well as classical genetic techniques. Is it possible to distinguish between plants altered by classical genetics and those altered by modern techniques? If it is possible, how is it done?

If you have a DNA lab, then you could check: many GM crops will have other genes which have been inserted alongside the actual genes-of-interest. If you find them, then it is most likely you have a GM crop and not a conventionally-bred crop.

Also, many GM crops have features like "terminator technology", which means that the seeds they produce are sterile. This prevents the crop from "escaping" and becoming a "superweed" (though it incidentally also means the unfortunate farmer has to buy seed every year, and cannot save seed over from one year to the next).

3. What safeguards are in place to protect Americans from unsafe food? Are these methods sciencebased?

* FDA will Ensure Adequacy of Industry Prevention Strategies through increased risk based inspections, audits of controls designed to prevent contamination, and sampling at the source. * FDA will Conduct Expanded Risk-Based Surveillance across the food and feed chain to identify gaps in detecting food and feed threats and to institute corrective action before illness or injury occurs. * FDA will Enhance the Ability to Detect and quickly identify risk signals by deploying new rapid screening tools and methods to identify pathogens and other contaminants in food and feed. * FDA will Increase Food and Feed Sampling and Testing through improved laboratory analysis. FDA must increase surveillance of animal food and feed ingredients to protect consumers from intentional and unintentional threats to vital components of the food Chain

4. Name as many examples as you can of harm to citizens from unsafe food. What percentage of these illnesses was caused by special genetic modifications?

HEALTH -Deaths and Near-Deaths

* Recorded Deaths from GM: In 1989, dozens of Americans died and several thousands were afflicted and impaired by a genetically modified version of the food supplement L-tryptophan creating a debilitating ailment known as  Eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS) . Released without safety tests, there were 37 deaths reported and approximately 1500 more were disabled.  A settlement of $2 billion dollars was paid by the manufacturer, Showa Denko, Japan's third largest chemical company destroyed evidence preventing a further investigation and made a 2 billion dollar settlement. Since the very first commercially sold GM product was lab tested (Flavr Savr) animals used in such tests have prematurely died.

* Near-deaths and Food Allergy Reactions: In 1996, Brazil nut genes were spliced into soybeans to provide the added protein methionine and by a company called Pioneer Hi-Bred. Some individuals, however, are so allergic to this nut, they can go into anaphylactic shock (similar to a severe bee sting reaction) which can cause death. Using genetic engineering, the allergens from one food can thus be transferred to another, thought to be safe to eat, and unknowingly. Animal andhuman tests confirmed the peril and fortunately the product was removed from the market before any fatalities occurred. The animal tests conducted, however, were insufficient...
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