Faith in Action

Are GMOs really important?

Bridget Rogers

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People throughout America, aside from scientists, propose new questions throughout the states, concerning the rapid growth of GMOs in our world- many that are for them and many that are against them.

   Ordinary people strongly oppose genetically modified organisms, challenging the scientific evidence available regarding these modifications, while most scientists give a green light when asked if they’re safe to consume. According to Harvest Public Media, people who most intensely oppose genetically modified food think they know a lot about food science, but they actually know the least.

   GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, are organisms whose genetic makeup has been changed due to genetic engineering. These unique genes are altered by taking a desired trait from one organism and adding it to an organism that does not contain the desired trait but is thought to benefit from it. These organisms can serve as very useful when added to various foods and propose many effects, positive and negative, some deemed to be controversial.

   The genetically modified organisms used in produce foods have created a new way of grocery shopping as opposed to generations previous. Nowadays, shoppers can get almost any kind of fruit or vegetable they want, no matter if the product is in season or not. GMOs that are put into these foods enable the crop to grow when it normally wouldn’t be able to and/ or preserve the product for a much longer time.

    An example of this scientific innovation, blueberries have not always been available to shoppers all season long. They are technically in season in the summer, and are not available in the winter because they were not grown in the winter.

   The controversy over the safety of GMOs stem from important and interesting arguments.

    Firstly, the impactful benefits that GMOs offer to the world as a whole can potentially fix two of the world’s biggest problems: world hunger and worldly under-nutrition.

    The sole reason that GMOs have become so popular worldwide is because of the widespread increased yield and food quality they propose to many nations, especially developing countries. They can create strains of organisms that are resistant to pests and harsh environmental conditions. For example, nutrients such as vitamin A can be inserted into white rice to create “golden rice.” This gives nations who are particularly malnourished or lack basic nutrition an opportunity to fulfill their needs. Insert quote about nutrients farmers provide in their crops

 

    Inserting GMOs into crops not only can enhance nutritional value in foods but can also take a positive impact on the economy. Genetically modified organisms often require much less pesticide use because of the natural insecticides that are able to be used. This means farmers can buy less pesticides, which are usually extremely highly priced and are typically essential for farming. This leads to higher incomes for farmers, lower food prices for consumers, or both. Insert quote from farmer about how his business increases income from GMO use.

 

    Although they serve groundbreaking benefits, GMOs, have their downfalls that are almost as impactful as their useful qualities.

    Society today primarily focuses on the effects that GMOs can have on your body after consumption. Many claim that they can cause health issues such as allergic reactions, for example [insert quote]but there is not yet enough hard, factual, scientific evidence to justify this belief. Further research is currently being done to either prove or disprove this theory, however, many people don’t need that scientific evidence to fuel their passions against GMOs.

 

    

Jansen’s anti-GMO protests go hand in hand with forced vaccinations in adolescents (genetic literacy project.org)

 

   Many people that are strongly opposed to GMOs in foods have been taking action against them. According to genetic literacy project.org, an initiative proposed by a woman named Cheri Jansen in California pushes for non-GMO food and animals, as well as prohibition of the treatment of water with fluoride, regulate vaccine ingredients and eliminate vaccination as a prerequisite for attendance at schools and daycare facilities. Cheri Jensen, as well as other non-GMO proponents, believes that cancer, autism and other diseases are linked to exposure to toxic chemicals, genetically modified organisms or radiation. This California group often holds protests against such things as pictured and similar protests and organizations have been formed in other states such as Oregon, Louisiana, and Utah.

    In addition, protests across that country have been spurred against a particular GMO company called Monsanto. According to the Huffington Post, “Monsanto, the multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, is the world’s largest producer of an herbicide called Roundup® and its accompanying genetically engineered seeds. The genetically engineered seeds produced by Monsanto are resistant to Roundup®. As a result, when Roundup® is sprayed, it kills everything with the exception of the genetically engineered seed. Farmer’s use the herbicide and genetically engineered seeds to control weeds amongst their crops.” This process leaves a chemical called glyphosate for human and animal consumption, which can affect insect species such as bees and can cause health issues in humans such as rashes and other skin irritation. Many believe that glyphosate can cause much more serious issues, including cancer, although no research has yet shown that the chemical can cause such issues.

Protests in New York against Monsanto (Huffington Post).

 

    These presumed health malfunctions are what fuel the fire for protests in cities like New York and LA. The passions that people have for this issue led to a lawsuit in California against Monsanto, involving a man who was diagnosed with cancer and had been exposed to Monsanto’s chemicals. According to the Huffington Post, this man claims that Monsanto is what caused this cancer and the company failed to warn him of the consequence. According to aol.com, Monsanto’s lack of communicating this possibility of illness to the public costed the company $289 million.

    As the man with cancer was exposed to chemicals produced by Monsanto, you have most likely been exposed to them as well.

  Do you make Aunt Jemima’s soft and tasty pancakes with Aunt Jemima syrup? Or do you make a crunchy, sweet bowl of Kellog’s Frosted Flakes cereal to start your day right? Then you, too, have been exposed to the glyphosate produced by Monsanto, who helps to produce these brands. As I’ve mentioned before, glyphosate is not proven to cause cancer, but there is little known about this GMO and the effects it can have on human health.  

Greater movements than protests have also been initiated in the past 15 years regarding GMOs in foods. The biggest establishment that has surfaced in the past 15 years is called the Non-GMO Project. “The Non-GMO Project was created in 2007 by two grocery stores, The Natural Grocery Company in Berkeley, California and The Big Carrot Natural Food Market in Toronto, Ontario—both of which had spent the preceding years working diligently to provide their customers with more information about GMOs.” (Non GMO project). The company believes that everyone should have a choice to buy non-GMO products and people have a right to know what is and isn’t in their food.

A close up of what a Non- GMO label looks like on a Blue Diamond almond milk carton.



  

  But do ordinary people really care whether or not there are GMOs in what they consume? The short version of that answer is no. I asked local, ordinary people if they check to see if their food is Non- GMO certified and either did not care or were not even aware of the issue.

 

 

Although little is known about these effects of GMOs on human health, studies are in progress regarding bodily disease. Hundreds of studies have been done by scientists around the globe, but none of them have yet to exemplify direct toxicity to the body. The issue lies in the fact that there are so many different types of GMOs that much more studying is required for assurance. According to Harvard University, what we do know is that GMOs do not cause mutation, organ disease, pregnancy malfunctions, or gene transfer.

 

Even though scientists are sure that GMOs do not cause these particular things, uneasiness still lies in the fear that they could have a bigger impact than what has been proven. Because of this, there are laws and regulations regarding GMOs, but vague ones, if at all.

 

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Are GMOs really important?