Genetically modified organisms are becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives, whether we like it or not. Altering a plant's genetic structure can increase production yields by making crops more disease-resistant and weather-tolerant, translating into big paydays for major agrobusinesses. As a result, more than 75% of processed foods on American shelves contain genetically modified ingredients.
These companies have said for years that GM seeds are nearly identical to non-GM ones, thus making them safe for human consumption. But strict patent laws protect modified seeds, making it nearly impossible for scientists to back up these industry claims.
A new study in Agricultural Sciences may be challenging those claims, finding that genetic modification significantly disrupts a plant’s ability to handle stress. The study, led by Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, found GM soybeans to have higher formaldehyde levels than their non-GM counterparts. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, so this is potentially dangerous news for the food industry.
Scientists behind the study are now calling for increased transparency in the GM industry and a more regulated system for testing our food.
"This is not a pro- or anti-GMO question,” says Ayyadurai. “But, are we following the scientific method to ensure the safety of our food supply? Right now, the answer is no.”
Food for thought.