Genetically modified foods is the most recent innovation that promises to bring with it many benefits with little to no risks. However, this is far from the the truth since GMO foods have been “rushed out the door” with insufficient testing and research. This mistake will cost the public in terms of health. Also GMO foods affect the biodiversity of the ecosystem they are planted in negative ways. There also is no mandatory label for GMO foods, so a consumer has no idea what they are purchasing at the supermarket. GMO foods are in an experiment phase currently and every living organisms that it affects will suffer the side effects of GMOs.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) have been a scientific breakthrough that seems to provide solutions for some of the world’s problems; however, the risks that GMOs possess far outweigh the benefits that they have. GMOs were created to reduce costs for the farmer, which makes his job easier. This in turn would benefit the customer by allowing the farmer to offer lower prices for them. Still the risks that come with these genetically modified foods present a great danger to society’s health. This danger is not worth the possible benefits that GMOs possess. GMOs need to be regulated more strictly to prevent the consequences that are caused by genetic modification. The consumer may pay less for GMO foods; however, they will still pay for the difference in their medical bills.
The benefits that genetically modified organisms offer is a reduced cost to grow GMO foods compared to organic foods. GMO foods have been shown to produce higher yields per acre compared to non GMO foods. As stated by Mark Lynas and Claire Robinson, “yields are critical to food security.” Food security is not a major problem in the United States currently; however, in third-world countries it can be leading cause of death. GMO foods may be a solution to combat the hunger crisis in these countries. In an article by Renton Righelato hesitates from his experiences, “farmers were able to buy more food – and food of greater nutritional value – for their families.” GMO foods can have extra nutrients added into them to provide more than organic foods can offer. A great example of this is Golden Rice, which provides vitamin A, a nutrient regular rice does not offer. Vitamin A deficiency, “blind as many as 500,000 children worldwide every year and kills half of them” (Righelato) This problem seems nonexistent to americans since they have access to foods that provide all necessary nutrients. Yet this problem is prevalent in these third world countries. Currently these countries desperately need food that can satisfy all of their nutritional requirements, can be stored for long periods of time, and is not too costly to produce. GMO foods provide a solution to all of these problems. They can be genetically fused to contain many vitamins, GMO foods can have a longer shelf life, and these foods require less labor to produce. While GMOs present many benefits for the world, they also possess dangerous risks.
The risks that come with GMOs can be fatal and life changing depending on how much that food has been modified. In an article written by Grethe S. Foss and Sissel Rogne it states, “In the 1990s, in fact, an allergen from Brazil nuts was inadvertently transferred to GMO soybeans.” This mistake can lead to fatalities that would have never happened if GMO soybeans were not created. Imagine the surprise of someone having an allergic reaction to soy because the GMO soybeans had a gene from a nut mistakenly inserted into it. These GMO crops also have an impact on the environment that are planted in. In an article by Walden Bell it states, “it was found that Bt corn destroyed the larvae of the monarch butterfly.” This raises fears for other plant and animal life that may be in danger due to these genetically modified foods affecting the biological system around it. These GMO foods also possess the ability to modify human genes. The old anecdote, “you are what you eat” has become a reality with GMO foods.” The Bt toxin used in GMO corn for example, was recently detected in the blood of pregnant women and their babies” (Bell). These gene modifications present a danger to the general public since these changes can result in birth defects and miscarriages. A soon to be mother may lose her child due to a complication caused by a chemical that is present in genetically modified foods. In addition to GMO foods causing genetic defects, these foods can also contain carcinogenic chemicals. An example of this is presented in a newsletter by Tufts university that states, “Idaho based J.R. Simplot Co. has received USDA regulatory approval for a genetically modified potato that produces less acrylamide when fried.” Acrylamide is a chemical that is found in GMO potatoes that is linked to increased cancer risk. Even if this company is taking steps to reduce the risks of GMO foods, it is apparent that GMOs are not ready to be produced commercially. Genetically modified foods present far too many risks to deem safe for human consumption.
GMOs have been developed for many years now and just somewhat recently have been criticized for potential risks. These genetically modified foods present solutions to the hunger crisis and the nutrition deficit that third-world countries are facing. The risks of these GMOs would leave these countries in a worse condition that they were at previously. They would solve their food problems; however, they would be faced with an allergen problem, birth defects, and genetic disorders. GMOs need a few more decades of research and testing to eliminate most of the risks associated with it. Then these GMOs would be able to help the third world countries that desperately need genetically modified food so they can survive and prosper. In addition to these countries being affected healthwise by GMOs their biodiversity may be at risk due to the introduction of GMOs into their ecosystems.
Genetically Modified Organisms are a scientific advancement in agriculture that involves changing the genetic makeup of plants and animals to benefit humans. However, these alterations affect the ecosystem around the plant or animal that has been modified. GMOs are primarily being applied in agriculture to create more efficient crops. Therefore, the crops are stronger and yield more harvest, but this stronger plant has an adverse effect on the plants around it. Also these genetic modifications present a danger to any animal or human that consumes the GMO. Finally, these GMOs are a danger to the natural genetic makeup, which puts humans in risk of genetic abnormalities in themselves and their children. GMOs affect the biological system present in sort of a “butterfly effect.”
The effect that GMOs have on the surrounding agriculture is evident since today’s farming techniques are much more sophisticated than in previous times. For example, the well-known Round-Up chemical is used across the United States as the primary source of herbicide. The active ingredient in this chemical is glyphosate, which prevents the plants from synthesizing the essential acids it needs. Then the plant dies shortly after. In an interview with genetic engineer Thierry Vrain he states, “A handful of major crops are now glyphosate-resistant” (Kincaid). These crops are able to withstand glyphosate treatment and not wither away. This, however, creates a separation between plants that are, “Roundup ready” and those that are not. For instance, a common problem among farmers is foreign genetically modified seeds blowing into their crop and planting itself, ultimately infecting their crop with time. Organic farmers encounter this problem often since GMO seeds will constantly be carried by the wind onto their land and ruin their organic crop.. “There are well-documented cases with papaya in Hawaii, corn in Mexico, canola most recently in North Dakota, and creeping bentgrass, which pollinated grasses 13 miles away in Oregon” (Crossfield). Seeds can be seen as having a mind of their own considering how far they can travel to pollinate. Organic farmers are struggling to keep GMO seeds away from their crop and some have given up the fight and purchased GMO seeds to plant. To an organic farmer the struggle to remain organic is not worth the cost or effort. The effect that GMOs have on agriculture also has an effect on insects and mammals since the insects and animals eat the agriculture constantly.
Plants are not the only organisms that are being modified genetically. For example, scientists are striving to genetically modify animals to produce more milk, grow faster with less feed, or to be born without unnecessary traits. Some farmers are willing to create different versions of cows for their convenience. Within an article about creating hornless cows it states, “Cows edited to be hornless would not have DNA from a different species, just from a different breed of cattle” (Regalado 13). This new genetically modified cow would be unable to grow horns. By genetically modifying an animal these farmers are creating an unnatural mutation that is borderline animal abuse since this kind of genetic mutation could only very rarely happen naturally. Genetically modifying an animal affects more than just the animal itself since cows, pigs, etc. are eaten by humans across the globe daily. Some unknown toxin that is not shown in a GMO animal may appear in a human once the have consumed it. In an article about genetic alteration it is stated, “Genetically altering an animal might affect the microorganisms that live on or in that animal, making them more dangerous to that species or to other species, including humans” (“DOC: Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMOs).” This tinkering with an animal’s genetic makeup produces a butterfly effect in anything that consumes the animal’s products. A good example of this is the growth hormone that is injected into cows to make it produce more milk. This hormone has an adverse effect on humans that drink the milk from the cows. This is why organic milk has gained popularity over the years. Even though it costs more than regular milk, it is worth the peace of mind for the consumer. GMOs affect the health of those who consume it, but it also may change the genetic makeup of organisms that interact with it.
Since a GMO has had its genetic makeup altered, then the same organism can alter other organisms, if consumed, in adverse ways. An example of this is shown in an article by John Grogan and Cheryl Long. It states, “milk produced from cows injected with Monsanto’s controversial genetically engineered bovine growth hormone contains higher levels of a growth factor that may be linked to increased risk of both breast and gastrointestinal cancers in humans” (45). The change that was introduced into these cows is also transferred into their milk and humans are affected by it as shown in the article. We have enough worries when it comes to carcinogenic chemicals, not we have to worry about what milk we purchase at the supermarket. Another example of the effect that GMOs have on the genetic makeup of humans is shown in an article by Better nutrition. It states, “ there are serious health risks associated with eating GM foods, including infertility, immune system problems, accelerated aging, disruption of insulin and cholesterol regulation, gastrointestinal problems, and organ damage” (Smith 46). Now humankind is not going to be able to reproduce because GMOs are affecting their reproductive system. GMOs are infecting the public’s genetic makeup and it is causing health problems that may not be so evident right now, but farther down the line they will pay for it. Whether that be with not possessing the ability to have children, dying prematurely to cancer, or dying from a heart attack at the age of 20 due to not having cholesterol regulation.
GMOs affect much more that just the plant or animal that is being modified. This is evident by the struggle of organic farmers to maintain an organic farm. Since GMO plants are literally around them all and will infect their organic crops if given the chance. The GMOs also affect the animals that are injected with these hormones. This is shown in cattle that have been injected with growth hormones to grow faster and produce more product for the farmer. Most importantly GMOs affect society’s genetic makeup when we consume any genetically modified product and these genes will not end with us. These alterations will be passed down from generation to generation affecting all of the offspring. GMOs need more development time to research all of the possible side effects that come with genetically modified organisms and GM Of farmers need to be more aware of the effect their crop is having on other farmers, the public, and the natural ecosystem. In addition to GMO farmers affecting the ecosystem they oppose labeling their GMO foods because of increased costs.
Genetically modified foods have had their genetic code altered to produce more yield, have a longer shelf life, or provide extra nutrients not naturally available in the food. A controversial debate that is currently occurring about GMOs is whether or not to have a regulation requiring GMO foods to be labeled. Currently there is an indirect label for GMO foods where if a food is not labeled organic, then it is assumed to be a GMO product. However this is not sufficient to ensure the safety of the consumer. A mandatory label on all GMO foods would secure the right of the consumer to know what they are consuming. Some opponents of mandatory labeling of GMO foods cite examples such as cost as a reason against labeling. Although this argument is valid, it is the consumer’s right to know what they are putting into their bodies and what risks come with it. GMO foods have had their genetic code altered and labeling of these foods would allow customers to make much more educated purchases.
The cost of labeling GMO foods is a consequence that will be produced since labeling GMOs will cost capital in the form of labor or material.For example, an opponent of labeling of GMOs is Phil Miller, who is the vice president of global and regulatory affairs for the Monsantos corporation. In the article, it states, “Panelist Phil Miller, vice-president of global and regulatory affairs for Monsanto, is opposed to mandatory GMO labeling and said mechanisms are already in place to ensure that GMO products are safe” (Hart 4). Of course a person that is of a high position in a GMO producing company would want the public to think that GMOs are healthy. While there are some mechanisms in place, it is not enough for the public to stay safe. If the general populace did not believe in GMOs safeness then Monsanto’s profit would plummet; therefore people like Phil Miller want to keep GMOs risks hidden. In a separate article, by the Southeast Farm Press, it discusses the reasons why GMO labeling would hurt every person involved. One of the reasons stated is, “Mandatory GMO labeling will drive up the cost of food” (Robinson). The cost of these foods would increase since farmers would then need to label each food that they produce; however, this cost is worth the peace of mind that it provides to the consumer. This increased cost would hurt the producer the most, since a customer already has a multitude of choices when it comes to products at their local supermarkets. This increased cost would just be another reason for the consumer not to purchase the GMO food and this would hurt the pockets of GMO farmers. Even if the increased cost of labeling GMOs would not benefit anyone economically, it is the right of the customer to be informed about their purchases.
Similarly to the FDA requiring nutrition facts to be included with packaged foods, GMO labeling would just be guaranteeing the customer’s right to inform themselves about what they are purchasing. For instance, an excerpt from an article states how many countries require GMO labeling. “When it comes to labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food, more than 64 countries already require it” (Peter). The fact that 64 countries require labeling of GMO foods should be a message to consumers about the effects and risks of GMOs. If 64 countries need labeling, why should the U.S. not need labeling? An example that provides evidence that the American public would like to see GMO labeling is provided by a photograph published by Consumer Reports. In the photograph, it states, “Our survey found that 92 percent of Americans think that genetically engineered foods should be labeled as such before they’re sold.” This statement perfectly shows how strongly the American public feels about GMO labeling. Since the American agricultural economy is already regulated for the public’s safety, then GMO foods should fall under the same umbrella and should require labeling similarly to other agricultural products.
Even if GMO labeling would be a detriment for the producer, it would benefit the customer immensely. The increased cost for GMO foods would give the consumer more reason to carefully inspect what they are purchasing before buying it. In the American capitalistic economy, the consumer’s choice has a great amount of power, so naturally it is the right of the consumer to be informed of their purchase. Labeling GMO foods would educate consumers and reveal any effects of GMO foods that producers may want to hide, which benefits society.
Genetically modified foods may be a mistake in the future that we will regret. GMOs are currently wreaking havoc on the public’s health in indirect and direct ways. Insects and mammals are facing extinction and are struggling to survive the infection known as GMO foods. Finally, GMO foods do not require labeling since GMO corporations convinced lawmakers that GMO foods are similar to organic foods. With time humans will start to see their mistake and they may have enough time to fix it before it is too late..