The term “GMO” is an acronym for genetically modified organisms. This means that the food has been genetically altered to fit a certain criteria. We all know farmers have been crossbreeding plants for years in order to get healthier plants with better genes, but genetic engineering is done in labs and is artificial, not natural. Scientists can change many things, from size and flavor, to more in-depth features like the length of shelf life, and herbicide tolerance.
Through genetic engineering, DNA from one organism is introduced to another organism. The organism that receives this, will then acquire the selected genes from the original organism. “Genetic engineering, also called transformation, works by physically removing a gene from one organism and inserting it into another, giving it the ability to express the trait encoded by that gene,” says UNL’s AgBiosafety for educators. For example, did you know they’ve created GMO potatoes infused with jellyfish genes, which makes the leaves glow when they need to be watered?
GMO’s are so common now, up to 80% of all processed food in the U.S. contain them. Although for now many foods do not have proper GMO labeling, that should soon change. Justlabelit.com says that a group of business leaders, mostly of organic food company’s, wrote a letter to President Obama in June of 2015, asking him to keep his pledge from a 2007 campaign and have the FDA label GMOs. They also stated that “Despite the fact that nine out of ten Americans support mandatory GMO labeling, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 1599, otherwise known as the Deny Americans the Right to Know – or DARK Act.” Now that doesn’t seem fair, does it?
Although there are studies proving the safety of GMOs, there are many harmful disadvantages to contradict them. One reason being the harmful causes that they can do to our organs. The Institute of Responsible Technology writes, “They cite animal studies showing organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. Human studies show how genetically modified (GM) food can leave material behind inside us, possibly causing long-term problems.” For instance, the toxic insecticide produced by GM corn was found in the blood of a pregnant woman and her unborn fetus. The most common herbicide, Roundup, is very toxic and GM plants are designed to be resistant to its withering effects. Although this allows the crops to grow very healthy, it is not good for us. The main ingredient is glyphosate, which recent studies have proven to be harmful to mammals. The World Health Organization even classified it as a hazard due to the fact that it increases risk of cancer.
Personally, GMOs could potentially play a significant role in our future food system. I can see scientists in the future creating less dangerous and more beneficial versions but for now, they aren’t what they seem. You have to keep in mind that this is a somewhat new study. GMOs were introduced in 1996 but a lot of people still don’t know what those three letters even stand for. Due to it being relatively new, we don’t see the harmful long-term effects they can cause. There are many things scientists don’t know and are still studying and experimenting with, but for now, what we do know, doesn’t make GMOs very appealing.