The potential risks associated with GMOs

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The potential risks associated with GMOs







Abstract (400)

According to definition by Van (2006), a genetically modified organism is an organism whose genetic make-up has been deliberately altered. WHO (2005) asserts that such organisms are made when genes are transferred from one organism to another to make a new type of unnatural organism. Resultant genetically modified animals are called transgenic animals and plants genetically modified are called transgenic plants (WHO, 2005).

After the release of genetically modified organism, based on Young (2005), they interact with the environment; introgression, mutations and selection pressures continue to take place. When the organism for example crop is grown on large areas, there are the chances of unexpected effects on the host environment and ecosystem (Van, 2006).

Based on the recommendations by Watanabe (2001), any responsible development of GMOs is to entail the whole technology development process, from the pre-release risk assessment to biosafety considerations and post-release monitoring. Environmental goals ought to encompass the maintenance and protection of fundamental natural resources, such as soil and water, and biodiversity (Wolfenbarger and Phifer, 2000). Using this method, according to Wolfenbarger and Phifer (2000) monitoring could as well generate the necessary knowledge to help in agro-systems protection, rural livelihood and broader ecological integrity. Young (2005) also emphasizes that the potential dangers associated with genetically modified organisms are both to be placed in broader perspective of both positive and negative effects of the same.











According to research by James (2005), the commercial planting rates of genetically modified crops have increased by greater than 10% yearly over the last decade. It is therefore necessary to recognize the fact that GMOs are not likely to be done away with in the near future. Presently, there are no conclusive evidence that GMOs have direct negative impacts on biodiversity commercially released; and there evidence presently proving that GMOs are either intrinsically hazardous or safe for human health. Various experiments have indicated that possible harm of applying GMOs directly affects gene flow.


Since the invention of genetically modified organism, various nations have developed biosafety regulations in regard to the use of GMOs in environmental release and contained systems (Young, 2005). GMOs have to be examined in reference to their potential risks to environment and other organism. Rommens and Humara (2004) assert that various factors account for the resistance to modern biotechnology. As the potential benefits of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been recognized, the concern remains as to the possible risks to both the environment, human and animal health. The European and Switzerland nation’s regulatory frameworks concerning health and environmental safety of genetically modified organisms are based on the same approaches (Scutt and Meyer, 2002). The regulatory frameworks state that damages to the environment and health are to be reduced by appropriate measures, which are significant if a risk assessment in line with high uncertainty levels.

In the past, numerous disadvantages and advantages of genetically modified organisms have been witnessed. In various cases, with transgenic plants, farmers have witnessed increased yield as well as decreased performance of the crops (Watanabe, 2001). Genetical engineering is hence two-fold. This paper seeks to explain the various disadvantages that have been experienced, based on literature review regarding genetically modified organisms.

Environmental hazards

Those against genetically modified organisms presented them as a technology associated with high potential risks and with no benefit with the exception of the firms from which they are developed. Evenson and Santaniello (2004) strongly emphasise two arguments. The two scholars argue that GMOs comprise various risks, from which no one can escape as they concern daily food and the surrounding environment. Genetically modified organisms have various dangers for the farmers in various nations and for biodiversity, which legitimizes resistance even makes resistance essentially ethical. Evenson and Santaniello (2004) further state that GMOs benefits go primarily with the firms from which they are produced and never to the community. On the contrary, consumers’ and community’s safety is sacrificed.

Loss of biodiversity

According to Kuiper and Kleter (2003), the introducing insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant plants mostly entail a change in agricultural practices. For example, as illustrated by Kuiper and Kleter (2003), the use of insect-resistant crops can cause development of pesticide-resistant insects, and cross-pollination of wild relatives may result to development of undesirable plants. Benbrook (2005) confirms the statement by stating that the events may result in an extensive use of chemicals and hence limiting options for conventional and organic farmers.

Some targeted species have developed resistance towards given disease-resistance trait, similar to the occurrence with conventional chemicals, and hence the need for extra herbicides and pesticides to be used (Watanabe, 2001). In cases where exogenous gene is inserted into another organism (recipient), the gene network is interfered with when exogenous gene start integrating and expressing itself. The disturbance changes the orchestration of the gene network, causing the breakage of epistatic connection, in infuriating alterations in feedback mechanism that control gene expression (Zhu et al, 2003).

Unintended harm to other organisms

Even though various measures and precautions are taken prior to the introduction of genetically modified organism, at times changes take place in the interaction with other organism and when responding to the environment. The interaction between the recipient organism and ecological system may also transpire (Kuiper and Kleter (2003). The genetically modified organism may have different behaviors in their reproduction and response to the surrounding environment. Also, as noted by Sadeleer (2012), various climatic and ecological conditions may have affects on the perseverance and dispersal properties of the GMO.

There have been various complains in regard to the consumption and usage of various GMOs. Among the points to take into account is the transfer of antibiotic opposition genes from the environmentally released GMOs to other organisms. The spread of antibiotic-resistant genes has the potential to reduce the effectiveness of the present used antibiotics to fight disease. One case in point is multidrug-resistant. Since the organism is resistant to a host of currently used antibiotics, it is more difficult to eradicate the disease. Various groups have demonstrated the flow of antibiotic-resistance genes from free-living organisms to microorganisms connected with humans.

Suppose GMO of interest cause mortality, morbidity, or it colonizes a selected organism, and if it has some of the recognized pathogenecity factors, then the potential to cause adverse human health effects may increase.


Human health risks

According to Sadeleer (2012), the present genetic modification techniques do not give precise information about the location and number of affected organisms and the transgenes may introduce new properties to the organism. Additionally Sadeleer (2012) emphasize that indirect effects of introducing transgenes may arise from the expression products of the new genetic materials, or insertion may cause pleiotropic effects, which divert the gene expression of the recipient organism. According to WHO (2005) and Young (2005) changes in the genetically modified organisms or its products may cause various negative effects on protein production and metabolic activities like toxic responses, nutritional changes, antibiotic resistance and gene-silencing phenomena.



The probable genetically modified crop is among the major suspected adverse health effects. According to Watanabe (2001), similar allergenic impacts of genetically modified crops was not available till 2005 when scientists from CSIRO, reported that GM pest-resistant peas caused allergic damage of mice lungs, causing then leave the decade-long project.


Wambugu (1999) asserts that the expression of a constituent or the enhanced expression of a present protein may have unexpected effects of the recipient organism. Currently, according to Van (2006), the proteins inserted into the recipient organisms are evaluated for their physiochemical properties, sequence homology and at times their allergenic activities. As stated by Spoke et al (2005), the present strategies used in the assessments of risks in GMOs do not predict or exclude allergenicity. Rommens and Humara (2004) argue that there is necessity of improving methods by comparing the non-GMO with the GMO concerning their potential elicit allergic reactions. As stated by Scutt et al (2002), the allergenic risk posed by GMOs is of concern both after consummation and regarding the inhalation of pollen and dust.

Antibiotic Resistance and marker genes

According to world health organization (2005), the u.............

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