Gut Check: Making simple sense out of life
By Lenore Skomal Erie Times-News staff blogger
Lenore Skomal is an award-winning author and veteran journalist in all forms of media. She is a weekly columnist and daily blogger for the Erie Times-News. She’s authored 17 published books, including an anthology of her columns, Burnt Toast available on her website   Read more about this blog.
Posted: May 24th, 2012
Apples that don’t turn brown

Would you eat them?

It’s another breakthrough for the growing industry of GMO foods. GMO stands for genetically modified organisms. In a phrase, according to the Human Genome Project, “Combining genes from different organisms is known as recombinant DNA technology, and the resulting organism is said to be “genetically modified,” “genetically engineered,” or “transgenic.” Simply put, it’s a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic.

Like creating non-browning apples.

There’s a lot of controversy swirling about GMOs, and the lion share of the discussion is about safety of these tampered-with food stuffs, much of which stems from the unknown. According to Science Magazine,

  • there is little scientific study about their health risks
  • safety test technology is inadequate to assess potential harm
  • they can carry unpredictable toxins
  • they may increase the risk of allergenic reactions

According to the book, Seeds of Deception by Jeffrey Smith, they are also linked to toxins, infertility, infant mortality, immune dysfunction, stunted growth, and death. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) reported that, “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM asked physicians to advise patients to avoid GM foods.”

But according to many in the biotech industry say without real proof, it’s nothing more than fear mongering. Even the World Health Organization takes a neutral stance, given the dearth of hardcore, irrefutable evidence. “GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”

But back to the apples. According to CNEWS, “Canadian biotech company Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. has applied to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for permission to grow and market its ‘arctic granny’ and ‘arctic golden’ apples. The genetically engineered fruit, initially developed in Australia, was created with its gene responsible for enzymatic browning turned off, or ‘silenced.’”

At the very least, critics maintain that when these apples come on the market, it is the right of consumers to be told if they are GM, and in this country, that’s not the law.

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