Genetically Modified Organisms

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					Genetically Modified Organisms

     Interactions with Population
          Health and Safety

             Chelsea Kadish
              Tyler Vaughn
              Ashley Wright
Problem Statement:

• Genetically modified organisms present an
  unknown risk and may cause harm to both
  plant and animal communities.
     Background Information
• Post WWII- Chemical Revolution
  – Chemicals were being produced to help improve
    quality of life
  – Many of these chemicals turned out to have
    extremely negative consequences in the following
• A 1998 study found that 2,250 of
  chemicals produced in the greatest
  volumes had no toxicity data.

   Environmental Health Letter, 1998
                We are now approaching
                 the GMO revolution!

Instead of waiting to see
what the negative effects to
populations are, we should
understand GMOs prior to
their distribution and use.
         Purpose Statement
• To evaluate the currently identified risks
  that GMOs may cause to human and soil
• Identify the risk that GMOs present to
     human health by means of horizontal
     transfer of transgenes.
• Evaluate if GMOs could be a risk to
     humans with sever allergy problems.
• Recognize the current understanding of
     the impacts of GMOs on soil
• Assessed peer reviewed journal articles
  on the following areas:
  – Human Health Risk (allergenic)

  – Human Heath Risk (gene transfer)

  – Soil and Associated Microbial Communities
Human Health Risk (Allergenic)
• The production of GMOs results in the
  introduction of potentially allergenic
  proteins into the food being modified.
• “Of particular interest is the ability of
  proteins from GMO’s to elicit potentially
  harmful immunologic responses, including
  allergic hypersensitivity” (Dean, 2003)
    Protein Digestibility Study on
    GMO’s and Allergic Potential
• “Joint Food and Agriculture Organization
  of the United Nations/World Health
  Organization Expert Consultation
  Committee on Allergenicity of Foods
  Derived from Biotechnology”
• Scientists tested the digestibility of the
  specific proteins of the genetically
  modified food for assessing allergic
What to take away from the Protein
        Digestibility Study:
• The “digestion stability alone should not be
  used for defining an unknown protein as
  an allergen. Available data suggest that
  stability to digestion may not be a
  universal, defining characteristic of food
  allergens” (Bannon et. al, 2003).
        CDC Report to FDA
• “CDC report to FDA: Investigation of
  human illness associated with potential
  exposure to Cry9c, an Investigation of
  Human Health Effects Associated with
  Potential Exposure to Genetically Modified
  Corn” (2001)
• Found no immediate health risks but
  called for more research.
Conclusion on Allergic Potential
• The majority of the research found,
  suggests no reason for immediate worry
  about the allergic effects of GMO’s on
• All of the research does however call for
  more studies to be done so that scientists
  as well as consumers can be fully
  confident that proteins in GMO’s will not
  hold a higher allergic potential.
 Risk to Human Health from Gene
• When creating GMOs they are often
  crossed with bacterial strains
• When the GMO is consumed, this DNA
  can get mixed with the DNA of microbes in
  your digestive tract via Horizontal Transfer
          Ketler et al. Study
• Used a FASTA (scientific protein
  sequence alignment software) analysis
  done on the European Bioinformatics
  Institute website to evaluate potential risk
• The authors concluded that for each of the
  genes that they evaluated the potential
  horizontal transfer to microorganisms
  would most likely not raise health
     Risk to Soil and Associated
       Microbial Communities
• There has been little research done in this
  area although support for it is growing
• Posed for study:
  – Interactions between
  transgenic plants, plant residues,
  and the soil.
  – Horizontal Gene Transfer
  – Manipulation of plant proteins
         Risk Assessment of GMO plants

• Each transgenic plant is different and
  excretes different proteins into different
  soil settings.
• This makes quantifying risk problematic.
  – Identify indicators
  – Measurable response
  – Comparable data necessary for analysis
    Suggested Questions for Future
    Assessments (based on present
• 1. What are the environmental conditions of the system into
      which the GM crop is to be introduced, such as soil type,
      pH, water retention, vegetation, and the surrounding
• 2. What is already known about the microbial community
      present and its key functions in the soil system?
• 3. What is the nature and origin of the gene(s) introduced into
      the plant and when and in which organ(s) of the plant?
• 4. Does the mode of action of the inserted genetic material act
      in relation to a very specific organism of the system or
      does it confer a more general property that may affect a
      whole range of organisms?
• 5. What are the modes of exposure of soil-borne
      microorganisms to the GM product or introduced DNA
      and how long is this exposure?

• There is a urgent need for more research
  to be done in this field
Questions? Comments?

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