Who will make sure genetically modified foods are safe to eat?

August 12, 2012

I was startled by University of Maryland nutritionist Karen Kolowski's recent article about genetically modified foods ("Educate yourself on genetically modified food," Aug. 8). While it is true that such foods don't occur in nature and that their tolerance for pesticides and herbicides has been genetically enhanced, Ms. Kolowski glossed over the negative effects of eating these products.

Ms. Kolowski says genetically modified foods are more nutritious than other foods. However, a recent report by Earth Open Source notes that these artificially created foods also harm biodiversity, soil quality and ecosystems, and that they can foster the creation of "super weeds" that are resistant to pesticides.

Consumption of such food also causes hormonal disruptions in men and women and is linked to cancer, reproductive problems and the formation of drug-resistant bacteria and allergies. A recent review of 19 studies by Environmental Sciences Europe showed that eating GMO corn or soybeans causes liver and kidney problems in mice and rats.

In 2009, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report titled "Failure to Yield," in which they concluded that "genetically engineering herbicide-tolerant soybeans and herbicide-tolerant corn has not increased yields."

So why are we supposed to believe that eating GMOs is safe? Ms. Kolowski seems to assume that the FDA, USDA and EPA will make GMOs safe. But how is this possible if key figures in those agencies all held important positions at Monsanto before they took jobs in government? Government is the last place we should look for assurances that our food is safe.

Burkely Hermann, Towson

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