Saturday, 5 March 2011

Assessment of the impact of GM foods on human health

Introduction of GM crops for human consumption has been fraught with controversy and conflict of interests of various parties such as governments, companies and research institutions and farmers and consumers. To balance the stakes of all stakeholders and to carry out an appropriate procedure for risk assessment, it is essential that the first and most important assessment of their impact on human health is given due consideration by policy makers around the world . It is not that the world governing bodies are not aware of the problem. In July 2003, the Codex Commission adopted the following principles, which although not binding on national governments, but are considered in the performance assessment:

• Principles for the risk analysis of foods derived from modern biotechnology;

• Guidelines for the conduct of food safety assessment of foods derived from recombinant-DNA plants;

• Guidelines for the conduct of food safety assessment of foods produced using recombinant DNA microorganisms.

These principles and guidelines presuppose make a preliminary assessment of the market, made on a case by case basis, including an assessment of both direct effects (from the inserted gene) and side effects (which may be incurred as a result of adding the new gene). These principles and guidelines in order to assess the quality and impact of GM foods require investigation of:

(A) direct health effects (toxicity);

(B) the tendency to cause allergic reactions (allergenicity);

(C) specific components thought to have nutritional or toxic properties;

(D) the stability of the inserted gene;

(E) nutritional effects associated with genetic modification, and

(F) any adverse effects that may result from the insertion of the gene.

Potential direct effects on human health

The potential direct health effects of GM foods are generally comparable to the known risks associated with conventional food, and include, for example, the potential to cause allergies and toxicity and its impact on the nutritional quality and microbiological safety of food. While many of these issues have not traditionally been evaluated for conventional food products, the safety assessment of GM food, followed by a gradual process aided by a structured series of questions. The factors taken into account in the safety assessment include:

• Identity of the gene of interest, including sequence analysis.
• Source of the gene of interest.
• Composition of GMOs.
• The protein product expression of the novel DNA.
• the potential toxicity.
• Potential cause allergy.

Its important to be taken into account by all the decision makers of these areas in order to instill a sense of trust between those who are skeptical about the use of genetically modified crops for human consumption. This will have a positive impact on growth and food security among nations.