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The Controversy Over GMO Research

In recent years, there has been a controversy over the use of GMOs. I decided to find out why this is, so I have done my research on the history, benefits, risks, and the different viewpoints people have taken on this topic. While I will continue to do more extensive research, I have already researched on several of MCC’s periodicals databases including CQ Researcher, Science Direct, and EBSCO Host, and also on the search engine Google. I will continue in my research but so far I’ve noticed several topics/themes in the sources.

Before I go into the different sides of GMO’s I want to note a bit of background information. GMO stands for genetically modified organism. The concept of genetically modified (GM) crops is isolating the DNA of plants and taking the best traits of both plants and fusing them together to create a bigger, longer lasting, more efficient crop and increase land productivity. It is not just used on plants however, but also on other organisms. Wooley mentioned that in 1982 the FDA approved the first GMO; Humulin, insulin which is produced by genetically engineered E. coli bacteria (1). This medicine is used to treat diabetes.

As years went by, more and more GMO uses were developed for good uses, but they have also had some negative impact which has led to some controversy amongst everyday people across America. Some people believe they are harmless, others believe they are dangerous, and both have differing opinions on how the use of GMOs should be handled. I’ll start by presenting some of the good, helpful uses of GMOs. They have beneficial uses for both human health, and the environment. GM crops have been used to create vaccines to fight against various conditions and diseases. One example of this is edible vaccines.

Edible vaccines are plants that have been genetically modified to have specific kinds of antibiotics or medicine in them, so that instead of injecting patients with a needle, they just eat the GM food instead. For example, a genetically modified potato plant was created to fight against diarrhea, and In the future they plan to use this same edible vaccine method to help fight against Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, commonly known as AIDS (“Eat up Your Vaccines. ”) Another use for GMOs to better human health is the provision of nutrients to third world countries that are battling with starvation and malnutrition related deaths.

One child dies every two seconds from starvation; this does not even take into account the number of people who are mal and under nourished” (“Benefits of GM Food. ”) To help resolve this issue, genetically modified foods are being used to create more nutrient-rich crops to better the health of those who eat them. For example, vitamin A enriched rice, also known as “Golden Rice” has been used in many countries to fight against vitamin A deficiency and better the health of individuals (Spady 11. ) “Vitamin A deficiency is responsible for 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness and up to 2 million deaths each year.

Particularly susceptible are pregnant women and children. Across the globe, an estimated 19 million pregnant women and 190 million children suffer from the condition. ” (Spady 11) Methods like these can immensely help third world countries by providing all different kinds of nutrient rich foods. There are so many great uses of GMOs which can be beneficial to human health, but they also have other beneficial uses. GMOs are also helpful to crops. Genetically modified crops allow for the crop to be more durable to withstand harsh weather, insects, and weeds, which help more of the crop to survive.

This makes the land use more prosperous and efficient which saves a lot of money. According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), between the years of 1996-2012, there was an $116,590. 40 increase in farm income from the GM crops of soybeans, maize, cotton, canola, and other crops (1. ) If less money is used to grow more crops, then these crops will become cheaper for individuals to buy. This will also help those who would otherwise not have enough money to provide food for their family.

With all these good uses, there are also some negative effects that GMOs have. GMOs do have some harmful effects to human health. Studies have linked GMOs to a variety of health issues and diseases such as autism, gluten disorders, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and allergies (Katiraee. ) This is especially the case for young, growing children because their bodies are still developing. For example, I met a friend a year and a half ago who has developed an allergy to GMOs. This causes problems for her because most foods produced in this country contain GMOs.

Genetically modified organisms are thought to be dangerous in some countries, and several European countries have outlawed them altogether. While genetically modified organisms present an extensive list of health issues, humans are not the only group affected. Genetically modified crops not only affect human health, but they also affect the environment. Genetically modified organisms have some negative effects on the environment. GM crops can cross pollinate and contaminate other non GMO plants. This causes problems for organic farmers who strive to keep their products GMO free, and has also caused a decline in non-GMO soil.

This of course, limits where organic farmers can grow their crops. GMOs can also benefit plants that are harmful to crop growth. For example, genetically modified canola oil was found growing wild in North Dakota and California, which could potentially give herbicide tolerant genes to weeds (Smith. ) This will eventually make weeds immune to weed killer, hence giving them the ability to thrive and harm crops, permanently contaminate the soil with GMOs, and render that area of farmland useless to further farming.

This wouldn’t be a problem if GMOs can be removed from the plant after it becomes infected, but once a crop has been genetically modified however, there is no way to remove the GMO from the crop or the soil. If GMOs continue to be allowed and organic crops become extinct, then in the future if people come to a conclusion that GMOs are harmful, it will be too late. Then, the whole world will be stuck consuming GMOs for the rest of their lives. All these beneficial and harmful things about GMOs have led to a differing opinion amongst the everyday American.

There are three general opinions people have concerning how GMOs should be handled. Firstly, some people think that genetically modified organisms should be allowed without any restrictions from the law. They believe that companies should be able to do what they want, and that anything the FDA allows must be safe. In his article, Chayka brings up what happened in Europe: Europe passed a law that required labelling for all GMO products. This made citizens aware of everything that had GMOs in it and eventually everyone stopped buying GMO products, which led to an outlaw of GMOs.

Secondly, others believe that GMOs should be completely outlawed due to all the risks. Yes, they can choose not to eat GMOs, but the environment suffers regardless of whether or not they choose to ingest GMOs. Lastly, others think that it’s ok for GMOs to be in food, but with laws requiring companies to label their products for GMOs. This way, companies can still do what they want with their products and people can make their own decision on whether or not they want to consume foods with GMOs. It is somewhat a happy medium between the two other views.

Different members of this group have different opinions on weather GMOs are harmful or not, nevertheless they all think that they should have to be label them by law, so that people know what they are eating and can make a choice for themselves on whether or not they want to ingest GMOs. GMOs have many uses, good and bad. They are beneficial to humans and the environment in some ways, and harmful in other ways. At some point in your life you must make an informative decision on what you believe about GMOs. Do you believe that should be allowed, or outlawed, or do you have a different opinion?

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