No to GMO
Genetically modified foods are foods or plants that have been modified by researchers and scientists to improve the growth and development process. This idea was first introduced in 1982 and now has become widespread in use, especially in the US. This technology is sometimes referred to as “gene technology” or “genetic engineering” (WHO). All genetically modified foods are produced in a laboratory to “enhance its biological feature” (Godiff). This is not healthy. GM foods have the potential to pose major health risks for humans. The three major issues of concern for human health are allergenicity, gene transfer, and outcrossing. Genetically modified foods also pose risks to the environment, such as the possibility of species extinction (WHO). These foods are being produced because they seem to be advantageous. They seem to bring promise of lower prices and better quality. The whole purpose of genetically modified food(s) is to improve crop production by resisting unwanted insect damage, viral infections, and tolerating certain herbicides; however, this is not the result of GM foods (WHO). Cost, safety, property rights, and potential environmental danger all must be properly addressed and assessed. But perhaps they are being addressed in all the wrong ways. One of the biggest overall concerns, aside from human health, is for the environment.
First, there is a fear that the GMO’s may “escape” and introduce the engineered genes into wild populations (WHO). This means the modified genes could alter plants and animals that were not meant to be altered. This leads into another big issue, insects that may not be pests will become susceptible to the gene product, causing death throughout various insect populations. That might mean the very insects that help plant growth and provide essential nutrients, will die off. A study showed that the pollen from genetically modified corn caused high death rates in monarch butterfly caterpillars (Godiff). Monarch butterflies are already a near threatened species. If we continue to grow these crops, we could risk endangering not only the magnificent Monarch butterfly, but other species as well. This is a big problem. The first of the major concerns for human health is allergenicity. Allergenicity is a problem because there are possibilities that a new allergen could be produced along with the new gene, meaning that it could produce even more things to be allergic to (Godiff). Because so many people are allergic to different types of food, this seems to raise the most concern. Not only is it bad that allergenicity is a concern, it is even worse that there is no reliable way to test the product for allergies (Pusztai). The next two areas of concern surround gene transfer and outcrossing. And they are a lot more complicated. Gene transfer is when genes from the GM food product transfer to cells of the body. This could result in serious adverse effects.
This would be extremely bad if genes with an antibiotic resistance were to be transferred into the human body. Once they were transferred it would cause antibiotic resistance, which would lead to the body not being able to fight off certain pathogens. Once the body is not able to fight off the pathogens, it could lead to a weakened immune system and ultimately not getting better. This is hard work in the medical field going to waste. Outcrossing, the second important area of concern, is “the movement of genes from GM plants into conventional crops or related species in the wild” (WHO). This is an issue because seeds can easily be transferred from one place to another- by wind, water, and certain animals. The pollen from the genetically modified crops could also be transferred to the conventional crops. This ultimately means that our conventional crops may become contaminated, and mixed with the GMC’s. Farmers will have no way of knowing if this happens. So, one proposed way to fix this is to adopt regulations such as separation of the fields between GM crops and conventional crops (WHO). Genetically modified crops and conventional crops cannot co-exist.
Really, in general, there is no end to the controversy over genetically modified crops or GMO’s. Each of these foods must be assessed on “case-to-case” basis. These studies cannot be generalized and cannot be taken lightly. Greenpeace said, “Scientific concerns about the safety of GM foods are clearly real” (Meikle) There is a study that showed the toxin levels are not only extremely evident but also extremely unpredictable (Pusztai). In all honesty, while these may be the major and most important areas of debate, they are not the only ones. In fact, there could be countless adverse health effects that we do not even know about yet. These products must undergo more testing and stricter regulations. We, like the European Union, need to enforce and place more emphasis on testing GM foods. Perhaps not to the extreme, as they are, like violent protesting and activist raids. We do not want to destroy years of fieldwork, but we do need to do something, before it gets out of hand (Curry). There is not nearly enough information on genetically modified foods for them to be considered safe. There is no information on the long-term effects. Finally, labeling genetically modified foods. This should hit home the most. We should know what we are eating. We should want to know what we are eating. If the product is made with genetically modified corn, it should say so on the ingredients list.
Otherwise it should be labeled no GMO’s. This is so important, just for everyday purposes, so that we can consciously decide and make educated decisions on the foods we are eating and what we are supporting. How are we supposed to stop the mass production of GMC’s if we are buying them? Buying foods that are made with GMO’s is only showing support for the very thing we do not want. This is essential for ourselves and our family. In conclusion, genetically modified foods are bad news. There is not enough information on them to really know whether or not they are okay. And there is certainly not any information on what they could do to our health in the future.
Until there is, the skepticism will remain. Genetically modified foods need to be further researched and labeled in the market. But as of right now, they seem to be causing a lot of problems and also have the potential to cause many more. Human health and the environment are at risk. Genetically modified foods aren’t worth it. Once there is more research and tests done, there may be reason to further review it. But right now the answer is no.
“20 Questions on Genetically Modified (GM) Foods.” World Health Organization . Web. 12 Mar. 2013.<http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/biotech/ 20questions/en/>. Curry, Andrew. “Seeds of Conflict.” Discover Magazine. (2013): n. page. Web. 12 Mar. 2013. <http://discovermagazine.com/2013/april/16-seeds-of-conflict>.
Godiff, Lewis. “Genetically Modified Foods.” Science and Technology Journal. (2012): Web. 12 Mar. 2013.<http://scienceandtechnologyjournal.wordpress.com/ 2012/03/16/genetically modified-foods/>.
Meike, James. “Journal to Publish GM Foods Report.” Guardian. (1999): Web. 26
Feb. 2013. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/1999/oct/05/gm.food>. Pusztai, Arpad. “Genetically Modified Foods: Are They a Risk to Human/Animal Health?.” actionbioscience. n. page. Web. 12 Mar. 2013. <http://www.actionbioscience.org/ biotechnology/ pusztai.html?print>.
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