More on GMOs

American consumer awareness of and resistance to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food supply are growing. As more genetically modified foods are marketed and more consumers insist on their right to know if the foods they are eating have been genetically altered, the conflict over labeling of GMOs is intensifying.

The most accurate method of testing for GMOs is the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, developed by John Fagan, Ph.D., a molecular biologist who spent 16 years as a researcher at the National Institutes of Health and more than 20 years in the field of recombinant DNA techniques.

The PCR test has a detection accuracy of 0.1 percent; for example, the test can find one GMO bean in a sample of 1,000 beans. The procedure is the same as those used in forensic DNA investigations or paternity tests, and analysis can be completed in a few days.

The PCR method checks for the presence of altered genes. It is possible to check a large area of food crops using only one PCR test of a scientifically representative sample.

The DNA material is analyzed in one of several different ways, including the Swiss/German Method that produces a simple yes or no; a "threshold" analysis often used with soy and corn to quantify GMO levels relative to a specified benchmark of GMO samples; and testing types that specifically quantify the amount of altered DNA in a given sample.

Despite advances in technology for GMO testing, problems remain. For instance, it can be difficult to analyze oils, processed food products, soy and corn derivatives, and end-products that contain minute amounts of soy or corn within a complex mixture of ingredients. To date, there is no test available to check milk and dairy products for the presence of rBGH or rBST, the widely used genetically engineered bovine growth hormones. A testing procedure for these products is in development.

— Mike Ligouri

What can you do?
Contact Citizens for Health at 800-357-2211 or visit its website at www.citizens.org for more formation about this topic.

Legislative news is provided by Citizens for Health, a national grassroots organization committed to expanding and protecting consumer natural health choices.