might cause allergic reactions if directly consumed by humans.
StarLink was therefore approved to be used only as animal feed.
It did not help the GM cause when StarLink was soon detected
in corn eaten by humans, and though its prevalence was still too
low to cause problems and no harms have been documented, it
showed that restricting how a GM crop is produced is easy to
express in words but harder to execute in practice.
The evidence so far suggests that current regulations are
providing adequate protection against allergic reactions from
GM food. This doesn't mean that reactions won't occur in the
future, but there is no reason to expect greater allergic reac-
tions from GM food than non-GM food. Revealingly, the UCLA
Food and Drug Allergy Care Center does not even mention
GMOs as a source of food allergies. Instead, it attributes the
rise of allergies to other factors: the general increase in hygiene
over time (the more sterile our environment, the more sensitive
our immune system), a delayed introduction of certain foods
to children, the increase in processed foods (was O'Brien mak-
ing waffles from scratch like people used to, or was she using
Eggo frozen waffles?), and improved information gathering
and reporting. When the New York Times printed a commentary
among six experts on food allergies, none of them suggested
GMOs were to blame. A CNN article titled “Why Are Food
Allergies on the Rise?” did not mention them either.
For the present there is little evidence that GMOs are respon-
sible for the rise in food allergies in children. Perhaps O'Brien is
just ahead of her time and scientists may prove her correct, but
for now her speculations are without evidence. Indeed, if food
allergies really are a problem, biotechnology could be used to
create new plant varieties that reduce food allergies.
Is Genetically Modified Food Safe to Eat?
When the National Academy of Sciences published its 2004
report on the safety of GM food, it explained that any form of
genetic manipulation can have unintended health impacts, but