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GMO raw materials and their application in the cosmetic industry

Genetic engineering is a biological science that deals, among other things, with the processes of direct exchange of genes between organisms using biotechnological methods.This is a relatively new industry, very controversial from the point of view of safety for the environment, as well as for human health and life. Public support for genetically modified organisms is low, although there is a marked trend toward acceptance of GMOs in some industries. This applies mainly to those industries that work to improve people's health and life.


The first genetically engineered organisms were developed in the 1970s. It was a breakthrough that ushered in the use of GMOs in agriculture, cosmetics, food, pharmacology, and medicine. The purpose of introducing genetically modified organisms into mass production was, first of all, to make pesticide-free farming more profitable. But because of this, the benefits of GMO crops are strongly denied in favor of theories about damage to ecosystems and human health. The topic of GMOs is even more controversial due to the fact that genetically modified plants and their processing products are not only found in food. GMO-based raw materials are often used in the mass production of cosmetics.

Genetic engineering
Genetic engineering

What exactly are GMOs?

GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are organisms whose genome has been artificially altered using genetic engineering methods in order to obtain new physiological characteristics of these organisms or to change some existing characteristics. Contrary to popular belief, genetic modifications are not entirely artificial. Are all genetic manipulations bad in principle? Are genetic modifications completely against nature? The opinions of some ardent opponents of genetic modifications are largely contrary to the available scientific evidence. Nature itself spontaneously modifies the DNA of various types of organisms under the influence of various stimuli and environmental changes, adapting these living beings to function in changing conditions. The main modifications include, for example, selection and propagation of specific plant lines, which have the highest nutritional potential. Other examples of genetic modifications include crossing and creation of so-called polyploids, that is, plant organisms that have a many times increased amount of genetic material. Today, we owe it to such modifications as large ears of corn, juicy and sweet watermelons and banana pulp with a creamy texture. Here we can definitely say that the modifications turned out well.A real dispute arises, when we talk about GMOs in the literal sense, with real manipulations in the genome cells. This requires the intervention of genetic engineering specialists and specialized laboratories with appropriate equipment. So what is genetic modification? Simply put, it is the removal of a certain DNA fragment from an organism or the introduction of a certain DNA fragment from a cell of one organism into the genetic material of a cell of another organism.


Which cosmetic raw materials can contain GMOs?

Today, the market offers a very wide range of ingredients and additives for use in the production of cosmetics. These substances are mainly of plant origin. As we all know, industrial plant production involves large-scale cultivation where great emphasis is placed on efficiency and productivity per hectare. Agoagricultural plants are often subjected to various genetic modifications, which leads to higher yields and better crop quality. Here are some of themost often genetically modified plants , which are used for the production of cosmetic raw materials and additives: – corn (oil, starch), – wheat (starch), – cotton (seed oil), – apples (organic acids, Proteol APL), – sugar cane (sugars, squalane) , – rapeseed (oil), – linseed (oil), – soybeans (oil and wax, phytoestrogens), – alfalfa (extracts), – clove (essential oil), – eucalyptus (essential oil), – rose (essential oil) ), – melon (extracts), – papaya (extracts, enzymes), – plum (extracts), – poplar (extracts), – rice (oil, starch), – tobacco (extracts), Worthy of attention as an example of cosmetic raw materials that can be obtained from GMOs, islauric acid, which is one of the saturated fatty acids . Thanks to the wonderfulmoisturizing properties it is a raw material often used as an ingredient in personal care products (bath liquids and soaps, shampoos) and "white cosmetics" for skin care, such as creams and moisturizing lotions. This compound is extracted from coconuts as well as rapeseed.The huge demand of the cosmetics industry for lauric acid was one of the reasons for the genetic modification of rapeseed. This was done in order toincrease the content of lauric acid in the plant Obviously, this has reduced the price and increased availability, but most of this raw material fits the description of GMO. Other common cosmetic ingredients made from GMOs includecorn starch, xanthan gum, glycerin, vegetable proteins, even vitamins C and E. When buying cosmetics, opponents of GMOs should know that products containing the above substances may be made from genetically modified plants.

How to avoid cosmetics based on GMOs?

The best choice in this case would be organic cosmetics based on natural components. Such products must contain at least 95% of ingredients of natural origin . In addition, there must be an inscription on the labelNO GMO (or similar designation). Labeling cosmetic products as GMO-free is not regulated by law.Some manufacturers use markings"NO GMO" as one of their marketing techniques to convince the consumer to buy their product . Usually, cosmetics that do not actually contain GMOs have certificates such as ECOCERT, EkoZnak, NaTrue, EcoControl or EcoGarantie.

What are the benefits of GMOs?

It is clear that genetic engineering is an inexhaustible source of possibilities, limited only by the imagination of geneticists and specialists in the field of biotechnological developments. Compared to their non-modified counterparts, modified organisms (depending on the type of genetic modification) have many positive characteristics, such as:

  • significantly higher protein and fat content (higher energy value);

  • the ability to produce vitamins and other valuable components , which intact organisms do not produce or produce in very small amounts (eg, rice supplemented with vitamin A);

  • much higher cultivation efficiency, higher yield per hectare;

  • the possibility of reducing the sown areas (a higher yield per hectare means less need for agricultural land). Thanks to this, deforestation and the adaptation of wild areas to agricultural crops are limited;

  • high resistance to pesticides , which are used in growing plants to combat weeds, pests and disease-causing fungi;

  • the ability of plants to independently produce compounds/substances that repel pests. This allows to reduce the amount of pesticides (insecticides) used to control pests;

  • increased resistance to adverse weather conditions and poor soil quality;

  • long-term storage and ease of use harvest;

  • possibility of production of vaccines and medicines (less expensive substitutes);

  • early detection of plant and animal diseases (DNA testing);

  • biofuel production;

  • reducing the problem of food shortages and hunger around the world.

Study of the advantages of GMO materials for cosmetology
Study of the advantages of GMO materials for cosmetology

What are the consequences of using GMOs?

So what are the disadvantages of GMOs? Opinions and arguments are different. Among the most popular:

  • harmful to human health and life (allergy, diseases of digestive organs, immune disorders, oncological diseases, infertility);

  • uncontrolled release of genetically modified organisms into the environment;

  • uncontrolled migration of GMO genes to other organisms within one or another species (neighboring cultures);

  • increasing the resistance of weeds and pests to pesticides (the need to use more and more powerful plant protection products);

  • negative impact on fauna (birds, insects, amphibians, marine animals, soil-dwelling organisms);

  • reduction of biodiversity nature;

  • monopolization of the seed market;

  • harmfulness to pollinating insects.

Proponents of GMOs firmly argue that there is no evidence of harm from GMOs to the human body. Animal tests are not reliable enough. Opponents make the same argument, but are directed against GMOs. In their opinion, there is a lack of convincing scientific evidence to deny GMOs harm for the environment and human life, and many signs confirm their negative impact. In addition, opponents of GMOs point to a very intensive political lobbying by global producers of genetically modified seeds of agricultural plants. Corporations seek to monopolize world markets and thus increase profits from the sale of GMO seed materials.

GMOs - what does science say about them?

GMO technology has been developing for almost fifty years. It dates back to 1973. To this day, many scientific studies are conducted, which provide the basis for meta-analyses and extensive semantic reviews. This allowed us to draw scientific conclusions that unequivocally state that the cultivation of GMOs, and therefore the raw materials produced from them, are safe for humans and the environment.

Anti-GMO accusations against scientific evidence

Long-term impact of GMOs on the environment

For many years, cultivation of various agricultural plants has never been definitively established, that GMO plants are more harmful to the environment or humans than conventional crops. Moreover, genetically modified plants are grown from lower doses of pesticides and fertilizers. In addition, in terms of agricultural utility GMO plants can be successfully grown on soils of lower quality.

Food and cosmetics containing GMOs can alter or damage the human genome

Plants that we use every day in the form of food and cosmetics, have their own DNA, i.e. genetic material. This means that every day we receive a large dose of genetic material from other organisms. The point is that human cells are unable to incorporate functional DNA of other organisms, genetically modified or not. Absorption of the DNA of a genetically modified plant by the human body is impossible also due to the fact that it splits enzymes in contact with the skin or inside the stomach. DNA, decomposed to individual nitrogenous bases that make up genes, is becoming a common food ingredient. Therefore, it cannot continue to perform its previous functions.

Food and cosmetics containing GMOs can cause allergies

According to the law, every new genetic modification of plants is tested for allergies before introduction into regular cultivation. For example, a food allergy is an excessive reaction of the human body to certain ingredients contained in food. Most often, the symptoms of allergies and sensitization are caused by proteins that the body of a person suffering from allergies "recognizes" pathogenic microorganisms and tries to fight them. This leads to an allergic reaction, which can take the form of gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory problems or skin damage. Therefore, both GMO and traditional plants can cause allergies, since both contain proteins.

Food and cosmetics containing GMOs pose a cancer risk

In 2012a study was published, according to which feeding rats genetically modified corn grown using a pesticide called glyphosate caused tumors in the animals. The author of this study was Gilles-Eric Seralini, a French molecular biologist who is one of the staunchest opponents of GMOs. It quickly became clear that the professor was wrong in his research, including the methodology. Scientists сonducted tests on breeds prone to cancer. In addition, he did not use a control group. The scientific community recognized this as a cardinal error, since the absence of a control group is not a reference. This, of course, entails the impossibility of reliably assessing an increase or decrease in the frequency of any particular consequence. Another mistake of the professor was not having large enough test groups. In other words, his calculations did not have a reliable statistical effect. Subsequently, the scientist's publication was withdrawn as an unreliable scientific source. Unfortunately, Seralini's conclusions remain to this day the main argument of ardent opponents of GMOs. On the other hand, they have supporters on their side of long-term reliable studies that prove the absence of carcinogenic potential in genetically modified plants and therefore in raw materials derived from them, including cosmetic raw materials. In addition, some genetic modifications have the ability to reduce the impact of carcinogens on humans. Examples include modified corn varieties resistant to mold and harmful aflatoxins.

GMOs kill beneficial insects that pollinate plants

Plant metabolites of the new generation have the ability to act selectively. As a result they control pests without showing even the slightest harmful effect on honey bees. Some substances produced from genetically modified plants do not end up in pollen or nectar. Other GMO derivatives, despite their presence in pollen, are completely harmless to bees and other animal species, with the exception of pests that attack agricultural plants.

GMOs lead to increased use of pesticides

The very idea of ​​GMOs involves reducing, not increasing, the use of pesticides in growing plants. GMO crops should be more resistant to weeds, pests and diseases compared to conventional crops. Creation of genetically modified plants in fact protects crops from various pathogens, without harming any beneficial organisms. Most of the modified plant lines show high resistance to herbicides, i.e. weed killers. In practice, this means that herbicide treatments do not harm crops, and weeds are selectively killed. However Excessive use of pesticides when growing plants means that over time weeds become resistant to chemicals, becoming species that are extremely difficult to control. This is a dangerous phenomenon, especially because in some regions of the world (for example, in the USA) the use of herbicides is increasing from year to year. Thus, the emergence of "superweeds'' is mistakenly attributed to GMO varieties, while the continued increase in the use of certain pesticides can have negative effects on plants, soil and water quality/purity.

Research on the harm of GMOs
Research on the harm of GMOs

Harmfulness of GMOs in cosmetics and raw materials for their production

As you already know, it has not yet been scientifically proven that the harmfulness of GMOs is related to gene mutations, because even the changed DNA of plants does not affect human DNA. But it is a fact that excessive doses of herbicides and allergenic insecticides produced by GMOs can be harmful. In practice, all raw materials and additives used in cosmetics must be approved for production on the basis of strict tests confirming their safety for human health and life. Manufacturers of cosmetic raw materials and finished products are required to meet strict requirements set forth in legal regulations and standards. Large financial sanctions are imposed for their violation. So the decision about which products to use - NO GMO or GMO IN - depends solely on the personal preferences of consumers. Row Cosmetic raw materials NON-GMO can be purchased from PCC Group. The company supplies substances and additives for the production of cosmetics to customers from all over the world . Among other things, they often require that any chemical compounds contained be non-GMO. PCC Group manufacturing companies that produce cosmetic raw materials and additives, must develop and implement new products taking into account the environment and safety for human health and life. Manufacturers working in the Group constantly improve existing recipes, introduce new products, use environmentally friendly raw materials for production and introduce environmentally friendly technologies. Every product they bring to market has individual technical documentation and is subject to mandatory industry research and testing. In addition, cosmetic raw materials belonging to the category surfactants, produced certified systems EFfCI GMP (good manufacturing practice according to the recommendations of the European Federation of Cosmetic Ingredients).

Does GMO make sense?

GMOs are still the subject of much controversy. The truth is that we encounter GMO technology every day, whether for or against. Bacteria, fungi and substances obtained from plants are subject to genetic modifications. Thanks to GMOsmany valuable and often life-saving substances are produced on an industrial scale. Examples include insulin and the active ingredients in many medications. GMOs are also allowed to be obtained from enzymes for use in medicine, pharmaceuticals and even for production detergents. In addition, GMO crops reduce the use of pesticides, obviously, for the benefit of the environment. But everything that is artificially altered is still untrustworthy, especially when it is complex and not fully understood. Nothing is certain in the world of science. New theories, research, and discoveries are constantly emerging, and scientists have more and more impressive research methods at their disposal. What is scientifically proven today may be irrelevant tomorrow. So should you use GMO-based cosmetics or choose non-GMO products? Science says yes, but there are still many opponents who make harsh claims about the harm of GMOs. Therefore, the decision rests with the consumer, who makes his daily choices based on arguments he is aware of, reflecting his current knowledge, outlook or culture.

 The absence of harmful effects of GMO-based substances contained in food products and cosmetics has been confirmed: WHO (World Health Organization), EFSA (European Food Organization). Security Administration), PAN (Polish Academy of Sciences), AMA (American Medical Association), Pontifical Academy of Sciences, French Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, International Council of Science and many other national/international scientific associations. 


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