Genetically Modified Organisms Pose Health Risks

Article excerpt

A doctor yesterday warned that genetically modified organisms (GMOs), foods and products pose a serious threat to health and the environment.

``They (GMOs) carry substances or chemicals that can cause various forms of toxic effects,'' said Dr. Romeo F. Quijano, associate professor of pharmacology at the College of Medicine, University of the Philippines in Manil .

At a workshop for the 1999 Seoul International Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Dr. Quijano reported that GMOs carry vectors that can create, transform or enhance infectious agents.

``They usually carry antibiotic resistance genes that can transfer and spread to various pathogenic organisms and render many life saving antibiotics useless,'' he said.

The doctor claimed that genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops are laced with high levels of pesticide residues that may disrupt endocrine function, destroy the immune system and cause various kinds of diseases, including cancer.

He said at least 1,500 people were permanently disabled and 37 died after taking L-tryptophan, a genetically modified nutrient supplement, because the substance inadvertently produced a toxic metabolite.

Dr. Quijano also said that genetic engineering can produce unforeseen and unknown food allergies.

He noted that about a quarter of the U. …