Testing whole foods vs. individual known hazards

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Testing whole foods vs. individual known hazards

Postby ShawnMiller » Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:35 pm

Sheldon Krimsky cites the following in support of his view that GMOs have not been shown to be safe: ‘‘Methods have not yet been developed by which whole foods (as compared with single chemical components) can be fully evaluated for safety."

Source: An Illusory Consensus behind GMO Health Assessment by Sheldon Krimsky (2015)
Genre: Peer reviewed academic journal article (Science, Technology, and Human Values)

The quote comes from this position paper by the Society of Toxicology.

Source: The Safety of Genetically Modified Foods Produced through Biotechnology by Society of Toxicology (2003)
Genre: Professional society position paper

The Society of Toxicology cites the following two works to support its claim. The first article by MacKenzie is an odd choice because it is a work of journalism rather than an original piece of scientific research. The Royal Society of Canada report is the more important of the two.

Source: Unpalatable truths by Debora MacKenzie (1999)
Genre: Science journalism (New Scientist)

Source: Elements of Precaution: Recommendations for the Regulation of Food Biotechnology in Canada by Royal Society of Canada (2001)
Genre: Government study/report

The Royal Society of Canada report cites (on p. 44) the U.S. National Academy of Sciences 1983 report as a "model for the expression of risk for food components" that is "widely accepted internationally as the basis for informed decision making for a wide array of chemicals, including pesticides, therapeutic drugs and environmental contaminants."

The gist of the Royal Society of Canada report is that:

The successful application of the traditional toxicological paradigm to assessment of the health hazards that may be associated with dietary exposure to whole GM foods, or modified constituents of foods, depends entirely on our ability to identify the hazards. Where the modified constituent is a single new protein or metabolite, as discussed above, identification and testing of that constituent can be pursued within the framework of the toxicological paradigm. If, however, the hazard results from a pleiotropic response, and involves multiple changes in either protein or metabolic constituents that are not readily predicted from the genetic manipulation, the first step in the risk assessment procedure (hazard identification) seems likely to fail. Thus, while the Panel felt that the traditional toxicological paradigm could adequately assess the safety of individual known hazards, more complex changes in whole foods present a serious methodological challenge. GM whole foods are complex mixtures which, for reasons of nutritional balance, can be administered in feeding trials only at doses that are much more characteristic of typical human exposure. This precludes traditional safety factor considerations, “acceptable daily intake” estimations, and application of the widely accepted principles of the MTD in the design and interpretation of risk assessment studies (WHO, 1999; 2000e; 2000g). (p. 47)

The U.S. National Academy of Science study is below.

Source: Risk Assessment in the Federal Government by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (1983)
Genre: Government study/report

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