Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)


Fate and Transport in the Environment

Exposure Pathway

Routes of Exposure

Methods for Measuring Exposure

Strategies for Preventing Exposure

Methods for Monitoring in the Environment

Harmful Effects

Dose Response

Absorption, Distribution and Metabolism

Sites of Toxicity

Biomarkers of Disease

Risk Assessment


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Sites of Toxicity

With the research that has been done on the subject of GMO’s, there is no evidence for the incorporation and expression of plant-derived DNA, either naturally occurring or transgenic, into the genomes of consuming organisms. However, close attention must be paid if the transgene produces a protein with allergenic properties. Allergies occur with many known foods, and therefore, it is a major concern about GMO’s as well (Hollingworth, 2002). If the proteins in the inserted transgenic material produce an allergic reaction, the site of toxicity is the immune system. The protein is the antigen that is seen as foreign to the blood and other body fluids, and therefore, the production of antibodies is stimulated. Since proteins are larger and more complex molecules, they are more antigenic than more simple molecules such as polysaccharides. The antigens (also called allergens) usually cause an immediate hypersensitivity that can produce allergic rhinitis (chronic runny or stuffy nose); conjunctivitis (red eyes); allergic asthma; atopic dermatitis (uticaria or hives); as well as other symptoms. These symptoms occur due to the production of IgE antibodies, which attach to mast cells and basophils, stimulating the secretion of histamine. The histamine as well as other chemicals produce the symptoms of the allergic reactions. Other food allergy symptoms include diarrhea and colic, which are mediated by prostaglandins (Fox, 1996). If the immune response is severe enough, an anaphylactic reaction will occur in which life-threatening symptoms present, including restriction of the person’s airway and profound hypotension. This type of allergic reaction requires immediate medical intervention (Lewis, 1996).