Recently I have been hearing a lot about genetically modified organisms. Every day on the radio or television there is an ad from the Ohio Soybean Farmers saying that genetically modified organism, or GMOs, are not bad things. This contradicts what I have previously been told about GMOs so I decided to do some research on the topic. I found many sources that were either strongly for or against GMOs.
I first learned a little about GMOs. GMOs are plants that are genetically engineered to take desirable traits from one plant and put them into another plant to achieve a desired plant that would not be found in nature. This can be used to make plants more resistant to disease, to pests, and more resistant to natural factors like drought. GMOs can also be made to have more nutrients. GMOs are also related to certain health problems.
One of the supposed benefits of GMOs is that they should result in less herbicide spraying, since some plants have been modified to be herbicide resistant. However, over-reliance on these crops has led to the emergence of “super weeds” that are also more resistant to herbicides, requiring increased spraying. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture (which is part of the water problem I talked about in an earlier post).
That being said, I looked into the fact if GMOs are actually safe to consume. It turns out that many countries do not consider GMOs to be safe. All of the countries in the European Union have actually placed restrictions on GMOs, which is kind of scary. In the United States, genetically modified organisms are in about 70-80% of our typical processed foods. After the introduction of GMOs, food allergies and other food related issues arose.
So how can you tell if the food you are eating contains genetically modified organisms? The FDA does not currently require packages to be labeled if the food contains GMOs. However, organic food is not allowed to contain GMOs. The USDA states that, “This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients.”
One potential positive of GMOs is that they keep costs on food down. Since they require less water and pesticides, they can reduce the price of certain foods by about 15-30%.
I still agree that genetically modified organisms are not right. I believe that it is a cool concept; however, I do not like the idea of eating fruits and veggies that have lost nutritional value or are not natural. As we discussed in class, the natural world is hard to define. In my opinion, humans should not be genetically modifying the foods we eat. I know there are mixed opinions on genetically modified organisms and I do see both the positives and the negatives to using them… just maybe a few more negatives.