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Lecture

Health in Crisis Class 15.docx

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Social Science
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SOSC 2150
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Christy Leung Health in Crisis Class 15 January 31/11 Food Controversies: Genetically-Modified Food What is Genetic Engineering? - Definition: the selective manipulation of genetic material at the molecular level - Differs from traditional plant breeding: - highly technological process - ability to transfer genes between organisms of completely different species - (1) expensive equipment, not natural, requires technological process to induce the matter; transfer of genes, chromosomes and DNA’s to different species - (2) not conventional breeding, transferring genes from different species Process of Genetic Engineering 1) Isolate DNA and genes of interest 2) Inserted desired genes into a transfer vector (often bacteria or virus) – accompanied by antibiotic marker genes 3) Allow vector to replicate 4) Use vector to transfer DNA into target organism’s cells 5) Propagate genetically modified targets 6) Search for and select targets with desired traits for use Why GMOs? - GMOs have been developed for many reasons: - Cheaper production - Herbicide tolerance - Insect resistance - Longer shelf life – flavour saver tomato – genetically engineered, stay harder longer, survive very long travel time - Added nutrients or vege-ceuticals (implant drugs into food i.e. vaccines) Brief History of GMOs - 1973: first GMO created (transgenic bacteria) - 1974: first transgenic mice created - 1978: bacteria modified to produce human insulin - 1980: US supreme court decision – GMOs can be patented - 1986: First field tests of GMO crops conducted - 1988: first patented GM animal – Oncomouse - 1992-1996: the first GMOs approved for human consumption - 1999: Enviropig created - Top 3 Modified products: Cotton, Corn and Soy GMOs and Processed Food - About 75% of the processed foods on the market in Canada and the U.S. today contain ingredients from GM crops: - Corn flour - High fructose corn syrup - Corn oil - Vitamin C - Soy flour - Soy oil - Soy milk GMO Safety: Government Perspective - GMOs are tested and regulated by: - Health Canada and the CFIA (Canada) - FDA (US) - Canadian and US governments claim: - Genetic modification is not inherently different than conventional breeding - GMO safety is extensively tested - There is no evidence that GMOs are not safe GMO safety FDA Controversy - 1998: lawsuit filed against FDA by public interest groups and concerned scientists over GMO safety - Revealed that FDA declared GMOs safe despite safety concerns raised by its own scientists - FDA scientists: GM foods entail different risks than conventionally bred crops - FDA admitted it was under direction to “foster the US biotech industry” - 2000: lawsuit was dismissed and FDA stance on GMO safety Risk Assessment of GMOs: “Substantial Equivalence” - GMO safety is determined by measuring their “substantial equivalence” to non-GMO varieties: - Looks for potential toxins and allergens - If “S.E.” then the product is assumed to pose no health risk - PROBLEMS: - Testing mostly done by the industry - Requires proof of harm - No standard for how similar a GMO must be to be “S.E” - May not detect unexpected toxins Risk Assessment Precautionary Principle Tries to determine standards for “safe” toxin Assumes even small levels of toxins are unsafe levels Burden of proof is on the public to prove harm Burden of proof is on manufacturer to prove safety Scientific uncertainty is not seen as Scientific uncertainty is
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