What are GMOs?

Photo courtesy of Shaw Academy

Photo courtesy of Shaw Academy

There has been a lot of talk lately about GMOs and their effect on the body. You hear lots of things from the media such as, “the government is controlling our food”, but what from the media can you believe? With all of this talk comes a lot of confusion about what exactly are GMOs. Here are facts about GMOs and how they affect our everyday lives.

According to nongmoproject.org, “A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified using recombinant DNA methods (also called gene splicing), gene modification or transgenetic technology”.  GMOs have created plants and bacteria that are not naturally occurring in the. In many other countries, GMOs have a lot of restrictions because they are deemed unsafe. Yet, in the United States, the same GMOs are allowed. Why? Because the studies conducted on them are by corporations that profit from the sale of them.

Photo courtesy of wakingtimes.com

Photo courtesy of wakingtimes.com

According to a 2015 ABC News survey, it was discovered that “93% of Americans believe genetically modified foods should be labeled”. Interestingly enough, the United States does not require these essential labels to be placed on our food packaging. Essentially, by consuming food in the U.S. you are left wondering if what you are consuming contains genetically modified organisms. Due to this lack of labeling, The Non-GMO project is working to inform the public about GMOs and consequentially many Americans are choosing to remove GMOs from their diets. The number of genetically modified organisms increases each year. Corn, alfalfa sprouts and zucchini are some examples of foods that have a high percentage of GMOs.

photo courtesy of modernfarmer.com

photo courtesy of modernfarmer.com

With the recent awareness of GMOs, you may ask the question why? Why were GMOs created? What is their purpose? Many foods are genetically engineered in order to remain “fresh” longer on the shelves, as well as remain appealing to customers. For example, there are now apples that don’t bruise, as well as potatoes that do not brown thanks to GMOs. Just like any other product of business, there are both pros and cons. According to the National Library of Medicine, pros range from creating foods that are tastier to creating foods that are resistant to diseases and droughts. Cons include the reality that genetic modifications can cause more harm than good, and can lead to the extinction of the original organism. GMOs are also often used in replacement of synthetic pesticides.  

According to the World Health Organization, using the gene found in Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) for toxin production is a way of using GMOs to repel insects and pests from crops. The Institute for Responsible Technology says, “Genetically modified foods have been linked to toxic allergic reactions, sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damaged to virtually every organ studied in lab animals”. Looking at both sides of the GMO debate, activists who are pro-GMOs argue that GMOs are helping sustain crop life, which leads to an increase in income for those using the genetically modified organisms.

With all this information on genetically modified organisms, you’re bound to discover an array of opinions from all sides of the political spectrum. Hopefully after reading all of these facts you are now able to form your own factual opinion and are not left in the dark about GMOs and their affect on your everyday life.    

 

 

Giana Spear