GMO – The Pros & Cons of Genetically Modified Food

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Has a Pandora’s Box already been opened with the release of so many genetically modified organisms into our environment? Will our planet ever be the same?

What exactly are GMOs?

Most people have heard the term genetically modified food or GMOs but do they really know exactly what they are? “The collective term “genetically modified organisms,” or GMOs, is used frequently in regulatory documents and in the scientific literature to describe “plants, animals and microorganisms which have had DNA introduced into them by means other than by combination of an egg and a sperm or by natural bacterial conjugation” (Quoted from Institute of Food Science & Technology, 2004 by Jefferson par. 4).

The Two Sides of GMOs

Basically when they modify these plants or animals, they are playing around with their DNA and mixing different species to create superior super foods or animals. Right now there are two sides of this scientific food war, the large biotech companies that are investing millions of dollars to create genetically superior foods and their opponents that believe that messing with our food chains DNA will only lead to disaster. After taking a closer look into both points of view, one should be able to make the choice whether genetically modified food is right for them.

Supporters insist many of the benefits of GMOs will help the world in many ways and maybe even lead to ending world hunger. “With an ever-increasing global population, hunger in the developing world, and the health risks of pesticides, some experts view genetically modified food as a panacea” (Jefferson par. 1). It’s true these genetically modified plants will grow larger and faster crops, making it possible to feed more people using less land. “Over 800 million people in the world are chronically or severely malnourished” (Jefferson par. 6).

A type of GM corn has been developed with higher levels of vitamin A; this could help many people avoid certain health ailments. Stopping world hunger would be right at our fingertips and using less pesticides/herbicides would also be a benefit for our environment. One might say these genetically modified foods don’t sound that bad but at what cost are these benefits being made possible and what exactly are we risking?

Playing Around With DNA

Fooling around with any plant or animal DNA can have detrimental affects on a number of things. One of the concerns comes from the proliferation of biogenetic plants, and pollen from these new gene plants can’t be controlled or contained. “As a result, genetic pollution of natural crop varieties and of wild plant relatives may occur. Genetic pollution may result from accidental or deliberate release of genetically engineered bacteria, insects, fish and other life forms into the environment” (Jefferson par. 10). Another concern is for human health and the long term side effects that GMOs may cause on the human body.

After Only 10 Days

A man by the name of Dr. Pusztai from the United Kingdom did a study on the safety of genetically modified foods, his findings not only were terrifying but he also lost his job of 35 years because his findings were made public. The rats in Dr. Pusztai’s study were fed genetically engineered potatoes that are engineered with a built in insecticide. “They had potentially precancerous cell growth in the digestive tract, smaller brains, livers and testicles, partial atrophy of the liver and damage to the immune system. Basically they were a mess after 10 days” (Smith par. 5). If that much damage happened only after 10 days, imagine the damage after a whole lifetime of eating genetically modified food.

It’s crazy to think that we are now genetically lacing our food with pesticides and other poisons, many of these toxins have already been shown to do nothing but damage to our health. “According to the only human feeding study ever conducted with GMOs, the gene that makes genetically modified soy resistant to Roundup actually transfers to the DNA of human gut bacteria and continues to function.

This means that long after we stop eating genetically engineered soy, we still may have this potentially allergenic protein being produced inside our intestines—possibly for the rest of our lives” (Smith par. 8). This could be why soy allergies have increased by 50% in the United Kingdom and possibly more world wide but we will never know for sure because not enough research has been done to link the two together. Would anyone spray Roundup directly on their food and eat it, then why are they growing these toxic chemicals in our foods?

Don’t Count On Labels To Protect Consumers

People may think if they just purchase GMO-free products, they will be unaffected, but thanks to the FDA this might not be accurate. Currently the FDA has no intention of labeling genetically modified foods. “They know their sales would suffer if genetically modified foods were labeled, because 53 percent of Americans say they would not eat genetically modified foods if they were labeled” (Smith par. 11). The FDA is a government funded agency that works to promote the biotechnology industry and is only out to make money.

“Consumer advocates also expressed outrage. “FDA’s action has placed the interests of a handful of biotech firms above those of the public they are charged with protecting,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Food Safety in Washington” (Kaplan par. 10). The days of simply reading labels are gone and now people should be aware of what they are putting into their bodies because the FDA has slid deeper into the pockets of these power hungry biotech firms that are slowly poisoning our food supply.

Nature Is Trying To Tell Us Something Is Wrong

Both the biotech firms and their opponents make good points to support their side but more long term studies should have been done before these foods were made available to the public. The world population could be fed easier but would having sick well fed people be any better? Genetically modified foods most likely will make the cancer rate sky rocket and put an even larger strain on our health care system. Our bodies, the animals and plants are all telling us something isn’t right about messing around with nature. “Eyewitness reports from farmers and scientists across North America describe how, when given the choice, several varieties of animals—including cows, pigs, deer, elk, raccoons, geese, squirrels, mice and rats avoid eating GM plants and feed. It’s possible the animals instinctively know or sense what we are only just beginning to see” (Smith par. 8).

We Must Close The Box Forever

Damage has already been done but it could be stopped and reversed if people demanded the cease of these freakish DNA modifications to our food. The Pandora’s Box of nature has already been half way opened and if we wait till it’s fully opened it might be too late to make things right and that could lead to an even higher level of world hunger.

Resources

  • Charles W. Schmidt. “Genetically Modified Foods: Breeding Uncertainty”. Environmental Health Perspectives. Aug. 2005: A526-A533. SIRS Government Reporter. Web. 22 Nov. 2009
  • Jefferson, Valeria. “The Ethical Dilemma of Genetically Modified Food.” Journal of Environmental Health. 69.1 July/Aug. 2006: 33(2). General Onefile. Wb. 22 Nov. 2009.
  • Michael Smith. “Genetic Modification ‘Inherently Unsafe’.” Briarpatch. 38.1 Jan/Feb2009: 18-19. SIRS Researcher. Web. 22 Nov. 2009
  • Karen Kaplan. “Cloned Meat and Milk Are Safe to Eat, FDA Says.” Los Angeles Times.16 Jan 2008: n.p. SIRS Researcher. Web. 22 Nov. 2009.
  • Jeffrey Smith. “Not in My Fridge!.” Ecologist. 37.9 Nov. 2007: 27-31. RIRS Researcher.Web. 22 Nov. 2009.

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