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The hidden dangers of celery rash

September 22, 2011 - Harry Eagar
In a quarter century on Maui, I have been subjected to a lot of complaints about genetically engineered species, especially food crops. I can tell you exactly how many of these objections came from people who seemed to know what they were talking about: 0.

Pamela Ronald, a plant scientist whose blog I read occasionally, has a long post of the subject at Scientific American blogs, well worth reading. Two interesting grafs:

"These and other recent reports conclude that the processes of genetic engineering and conventional breeding are no different in terms of unintended consequences to human health and the environment (European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation 2010). This is not to say that every new variety will be as benign as the crops currently on the market. This is because each new plant variety (whether it is developed through genetic engineering or conventional approaches of genetic modi?cation) carries a risk of unintended consequences. Whereas each new genetically engineered crop variety is assessed on a case-bycase basis by three governmental agencies, conventional crops are not regulated by these agencies.

"Still, to date, compounds with harmful effects on humans or animals have been documented only in foods developed through conventional breeding approaches. For example, conventional breeders selected a celery variety with relatively high amounts of psoralens to deter insect predators that damage the plant. Some farm workers who harvested such celery developed a severe skin rash—an unintended consequence of this breeding strategy (Committee on Identifying and Assessing Unintended Effects of Genetically Engineered Foods on Human Health and National Research Council 2004)."

 
 

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