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Safety Concerns of Genetically Modified BT Corn, Research Paper Example

Pages: 1

Words: 306

Research Paper

BT corn is a GMO plant that has its roots in a naturally produced chemical. The bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) encodes a protein toxic to the European corn borer (ECB), and has been utilized by the biochemical company Monsanto. By splicing the Bt gene from the bacteria to that of a strain of corn, they were able to produce a corn plant that would naturally produce its own insecticide, making it immune to attacks by the ECB. However, Bt corn has not been without controversy, as it has raised public and environmental health concerns.

Benefits of Bt corn include the fact that since it makes its own pesticide, it reduces the need for artificial ones, a benefit to farmers and the environment. In addition, to date no toxic effects of Bt on humans has been detected, making it an acceptable pest control measure for use in the organic foods industry (Hall). Concerns arise over the affects that the excess Bt may have on the human body when it is consumed and undergoes complex biological transformations. Possible side effects may include protein toxicity, allergenicity and lateral transfer of antibiotic-resistance marker genes to the microflora of the digestive system, all of which could compromise human health (Hall).

The difficulty in ascertaining potentially toxic effects come from the fact that human diets are complex.

“How can we trace the acute or chronic effects of eating GM ingredients when they are mixed     in with many other foods that may also present their own health hazards? It is even more complicated to determine the indirect risk of eating meat from animals raised on transgenic  crops (Hall).”

Genetically modified food is an example of how chemistry can significantly alter our environment, both beneficially and negatively.

Works Cited   

Hall, Hardy BT Corn: Is it Worth the Risk?  The Science Creative Quarterly (2009). Web. 21 November 2010

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