The Dangers of Eating Genetically Modified Chicken

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Genetically modified food has been a subject of controversy for some time now. Since the 1990s, food and food ingredients from genetically engineered plants have made their way into the food supply of the United States. Genetically modified organisms were first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1982, when insulin produced by genetically engineered E. coli bacteria was introduced to the market. In 1994, the first GMO food hit the supermarkets in the form of a tomato called the Flavr Savr, which boasted delayed ripening. These days, much of the food that sits on store shelves contains an ingredient that has been genetically modified. These food products also include chicken. While some argue that GMO chickens are healthier and result in higher production in the country, there are clearly many health dangers to eating genetically modified chickens and chickens that are fed with GMO ingredients.

Many years ago, food was simple and healthier. But since DNA was isolated in 1935, scientists have been focused on creating genetically engineered organisms, including plants and food. Chickens are not the only foods that are modified, but they are a major part of the agricultural economy of this country. The dangers of these chickens have the power to affect millions of consumers, including children.

One of the dangers of genetically modified chickens is the hormones that are pumped into them in order to make them plumper and bigger and grow at a more accelerated rate. They are tube-fed multiple antibiotics and growth hormones in large doses, which results in health problems. According to PETA, the average breast of an 8-week-old chicken is seven times heavier today than it was 25 years ago” (“The Chicken Industry"). The unnatural gain in weight causes the chickens to die of lung issues and heart attacks. The heart and lungs cannot keep up with the accelerated growth of the rest of the chicken’s body, and many chickens die from heart failure.

These growth hormones are a big risk to people’s health. Studies have shown that “hormone residues found in meat from these animals can disrupt the consumer's hormone balance, cause developmental problems, interfere with the reproductive system, and even lead to the development of cancer” ("Vegetarian Guide."). Women who are pregnant and children are even more susceptible to these detrimental health effects. Hormones in poultry and other livestock may also be the reason for an early onset of puberty in females over the last few decades.

However, The Poultry Site insists that growth hormones are not injected into the poultry that consumers purchase and eat. They contend that the chickens are bigger and plumper because they are selecting the best birds for growth and performance as well as the fact that they are successfully meeting the nutritional and environmental needs of the chickens.

Another health concern for poultry eaters lies in the feed that the chickens are given. Farmers in animal agriculture have fed their poultry corn and soybeans that are genetically modified since 1996, and this has all occurred right under the oversight of the United States government.

According to the National Chicken Council, “more than 80 percent of the corn and soybeans grown in the US are raised from genetically modified seeds,” which means that “almost all corn and soybean used in conventional livestock and poultry production is genetically modified” ("Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Use in the Chicken Industry”). Genetically modified feed means that the chickens have GMOs already in their system when they are purchased by consumers, even if they are not injected with hormones but given the GMO feed. This means that the GMOs are ingested by people when they eat these chickens.

The government contests that the GMO feed given to chickens is absolutely safe. According to the National Chicken Council, “There has been no scientific evidence of any compromise to animal health whatsoever from the ingestion of genetically modified feed ingredients. In fact, since 1996, overall chicken health has improved, and U.S. production has increased by 43 percent” ("Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Use in the Chicken Industry”). However, they make no mention of its safety to humans.

Arsenic is a cancer-causing substance that has also found its way into the chickens that Americas eat. According to Global Research, “the FDA says its own research shows that the arsenic added to the chicken feed ends up in the chicken meat where it is consumed by humans” (“FDA Finally Admits Chicken Meat Contains Cancer-Causing Arsenic"). This means that for the last sixty years, consumers who eat conventional chicken have also been eating arsenic.

There are farmers who will only feed their poultry and livestock with GMO-free feed. There are also companies who sell only GMO-free feed. One of these companies is the Buxton Feed Company, which has developed a strategy for marketing healthy feed that is free of genetically modified organisms. They have received GMO-free certification for four of its poultry feed products. The company has done this because of huge consumer demand for healthy chickens that are free from antibiotics, hormones, and genetically modified feed.

GMO-free food is becoming extremely popular in consumers’ choices these days. This is why there should be more companies such as the Buxton Feed Company that are committed to the health and well-being of their consumers. There should also be more farmers who stand up for using feed that is free of genetically modified organisms and avoid injecting their chickens with hormones and antibiotics. GMO-free chicken and other foods will hopefully be the food of the future.

Works Cited

"Chickens Do Not Receive Growth Hormones: So Why All the Confusion? - Poultry Articles from The Poultry Site - The Poultry Site." The Poultry Site. N.p., 23 Apr. 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/2812/chickens-do-not-receive-growth-hormones-so-why-all-the-confusion>.

"Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Use in the Chicken Industry | The National Chicken Council." The National Chicken Council. N.p., 5 June 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/genetically modified-organism-gmo-use-in-the-chicken-industry/>.

"FDA Finally Admits Chicken Meat Contains Cancer-Causing Arsenic." Global Research. N.p., 6 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://www.globalresearch.ca/fda-finally-admits-chicken-meat-contains-cancer-causing-arsenic/5353189>.

"The Chicken Industry." PETA. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/chickens/chicken-industry/>.

"Vegetarian Guide." Global Action Network: The Downside to Consuming Animal Products: How Hormones Could Affect Your Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://www.gan.ca/lifestyle/vegetarian+guide>.

University of Cambridge. "Genetically modified chickens that don't transmit bird flu developed; Breakthrough could prevent future bird flu epidemics." ScienceDaily, 14 Jan. 2011. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.