Breaking NEWS: GMO cotton set to be used for human consumption
(NaturalHealth365) Time and again, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are cited as potential “solutions” to the world hunger problem. Never mind that many argue GMO foods are nothing more than an economic ploy to feed livestock – not humans – and fill the pockets of Big Agra.
Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that they are indeed preparing to shuttle a genetically modified product to shelves specifically for human consumption. That food is GMO cotton – and it has many calling foul on the concerns over GMO pro and cons.
Genetically modified cotton gets a green light for human consumption, says FDA
The puffy white cotton fiber you see growing on a cotton plant is nearly pure cellulose. Great for textiles, not so great for human consumption.
But a team of researchers from Texas A&M University recently figured out a way to genetically modify this organism so that the seeds of the cotton plant can be “safely” consumed by humans and some animals (cattle, sheep, and other animals with multiple stomach chambers can already safely eat the unmodified species).
Normally, cottonseeds are inedible because they contain a chemical called gossypol that is toxic to humans. Used as a protective mechanism for the plant, gossypol, among other things, has already been proposed as a potential male contraceptive because it induces infertility – irreversibly so at least 50% of the time.
Unfortunately, the GMO technology used to modify and engineer cottonseed and other types of Frankenfood is unpredictable and ever-changing. As many cautious skeptics point out, this could mean more gossypol will remain in the seeds than otherwise thought (and marketed).
As a result, humans may be unintentionally exposed to higher levels of gossypol than is deemed safe. Can you imagine the long-term consequences of this?
Other legitimate criticisms over this push for GMO cottonseed include the following:
- So far, there has been a lack of toxicity testing of the GMO cotton.
- There is a huge potential for certain genes in GM cotton to produce antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria (as if the world needs any more superbugs).
- The GMO cottonseed is made via a process called RNA interference (RNAi), used to silence the expression of certain genes (e.g., the genes that code for gossypol in the seeds of the cotton plant). But molecules involved in RNAi can withstand human digestion and thereby get into the human system, where they may go on to alter gene expression elsewhere in the body. Altered gene expression has been linked with everything from increased oxidative stress (accelerated aging) to cancer. Is this really a risk we want to take with our food?
These potential issues need to be studied more rigorously. But for some reason the FDA seems very eager to get this engineered food out there and push it toward poorer demographics that are already more malnourished and maybe more susceptible to environmental toxins.
Picking through the GMO pros and cons: 3 things to know
People who champion the so-called benefits of GMO crops often overlook the important dichotomy of GMO pros and cons. For every proposed positive thing about GMO (e.g., better crop yield or increased resistance to extreme temperature and bugs), there are at least the same amount of negatives:
- As mentioned, GMO foods and technology are relatively new and untested, with a paucity of long-term studies on their effects on human health and environment. Many genetically modified crops risk the overgrowth of antibiotic resistant bugs and bacteria.
- Various levels of evidence have also linked GMO foods to cancer and allergies, at least in animal models. More research is needed to clarify the connection.
- Lastly, it seems like the food and agriculture industry are aware that consumers are wary of GMO foods. But major loopholes in recent U.S. food labeling laws are making it easier for manufacturers to hide GMO ingredients.
Past research suggests that choosing organic foods over GMO foods can greatly improve health outcomes. In other words, consumers are far better off picking organic cotton for their bed linens and opting for other safer protein and fiber sources instead.
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