Presentation on theme: "Scary Food Many packaged food products are recalled from the American market due to the presence of all-natural contaminants: –insect parts –toxic molds."— Presentation transcript:
Scary Food Many packaged food products are recalled from the American market due to the presence of all-natural contaminants: –insect parts –toxic molds from fungi (mycotoxins) –Bacteria –viruses
Ergot Poisoning Europe 800s-1800s epidemics caused by the contamination of rye with ergot (a poisonous fungus) Ergot toxin is ergotamine consumption induces hallucinations, bizarre behavior, violent muscle twitching
Salem witch trials Three young girls –violent convulsions, incomprehensible speech –trance-like states, odd skin sensations, –delirious visions Villagers feared the girls were under a spell cast by demons; subsequent panic led to the execution of ~ 20 innocent people. rye was a major staple of their diet rainy and humid rye harvest that year When the supply of Ergot- infected rye ran out, the delusions and persecution disappeared.
a deadly mycotoxin produced by the mold Fusarium sometimes found in unprocessed corn Can cause liver and esophageal cancer, birth defects Fumonisin Poisoning when insects attack corn, they open wounds in the plant that provide a perfect breeding ground for Fusarium.
1990s: Hispanic women in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas 6 times the national average of babies with crippling and lethal neural tube defects (NTDS) –spina bifida, Hydrocephalus, anencephaly NTDS linked to consumption of unprocessed corn These women reported much higher dietary consumption of homemade corn tortillas containing 2-3 x more fumonisin than normal
Food Safety Agency tested six organic cornmeal products and twenty conventional corn meal products for fumonisin contamination. Know your Organic Food All six organic corn meals had 9 to 40 times greater fumonisin than the recommended levels for human health (they were voluntarily withdrawn from grocery stores.)
99% of GM foods in food supply are –Round-up Ready™ soybeans –Bt corn Genetically Modified (GM) Foods
Round-up Ready Soybeans/cotton Round-up (an herbicide) kills weeds It degrades in the environment when used properly (sunny and dry weather). Crops can engineered to be tolerant to Round-up, so it can be used rather than more toxic herbicides
Bt corn contains a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. The "Bt" gene expresses a protein that is toxic to corn-boring insects but is harmless to birds, fish, and mammals (including humans). Bt corn fends off insect pests Also reduces the levels of the mold Fusarium
Round-up Ready corn/soybeans and Bt corn consumed in United States, Argentina and Canada Since 1995 not a single case of adverse health impacts has been documented Are GM foods SAFE? Bt is considered safe to eat because it is digested in minutes and is not absorbed as a whole protein by the body.
BEWARE of Public Skepticism
Golden Rice two daffodil genes and a bacterial gene spliced into the rice genome. – barely produced enough b-carotene Now golden rice contains a corn gene that provides enough b-carotene Still not available due to regulations
Outdated Propaganda against Golden Rice A normal size serving would be sufficient with the newer golden rice
1999 Gerber foods company succumbed to activist pressure “baby food products no longer contain any gene-spliced ingredients” Gerber promised a shift to organic ingredients that are grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers Gerber has actually increased the health risk for its baby consumers. If a mother some day discovers that her "Gerber baby" has developed liver or esophageal cancer, she might have a legal case against Gerber
Benefits of GE crops reduced use of chemical pesticides less runoff of chemicals into waterways greater use of farming practices that prevent soil erosion higher profits for farmers less fungal contamination More nutritious foods
GE crops and Worker Safety Production of Bt cotton has led to enormous reductions in insecticide use (equivalent to 25 percent of all of the insecticide sprayed before the adoption of Bt cotton). Reduced exposure of farm workers to broad- spectrum pesticides the positive effects on farm workers and the environment should be considered when deciding on the merits of Bt crops
GM Concern Pests will evolve to become resistant to Bt (This also normally occurs if a pesticide is heavily used) Many varieties of Bt toxin can be genetically engineered to keep one step ahead of the insects.
GE crops can coexist with other farming systems the papaya industry in Hawaii was virtually decimated by the presence of a single viral disease caused by the papaya ringspot virus 1998: genetically engineered papaya lead to a 20-fold increase in yield. Hawaiian organic papaya can be grown disease free if it is produced near GE trees. This is because the GE fruit has eliminated the spread of the virus.
Food Labeling a “GMO-free” label does not provide meaningful information. Example: GE papaya is immunized with trace amounts ringspot viral DNA organic papaya is likely to be virally infected and would therefore carry much higher levels of viral RNA as well as viral protein.