When it comes to the topic of GMOS, many Americans assume that they are bad and detrimental to our health. I’ve always believed that to be true as well until I began researching the subject more thoroughly. The opinion genetically modified foods are strictly bad can be observed in our society with the movement to mainly eat organic produce and steroid free meat products from animals who were fed non-GMO feed. This way of shopping and consciously choosing alternative organic options is an ideal concept for many Americans who are concerned about the health of themselves and their families.
There is great debate that has been brewing for the last decade about genetically modified foods and if they deserve to share a place and function in our world. On one hand the argument against genetically modified foods include the fear of health risks including certain cancers and disease, as well as environmental hazards that GMOS impose on our planet. The greed of big businesses profiting off genetically modified seeds are eliminating the need for small farmers, some who desire to cultivate organically.
For every argument against GMOS there is lso a counterargument to defend the need for genetically modified organisms. On the other hand, genetically modified crops can help feed undernourished, impoverished countries that need nourishment, these GMO crops also prove to be more resilient and require less pesticides which is beneficial for the environment. Through GM technology the taste and health properties of food are also improved. I agree that GMOS are not perfect and there is room for improvement, especially where the political and business advocates are concerned.
Overall though, the benefits for genetically modified food outweighs the egatives when it comes to GM technology and with time, the flaws surrounding them could be fixed to assist the world we live in to become a better version of itself. So, you may be wondering, what exactly are GMOS? Francesca Bray, author of Genetically Altered Foods in the Encyclopedia of Social Problems defines GMOS as, “Genetically modified organism (GMOS) are produced by transferring genetic material from one species to another.
Genetically altered or modified (GM) foods contain materials derived from such processes. Whereas traditional plant and animal breeding involves the crossing of individuals ith desirable traits within a single species, genetic engineering allows more rapid and radical transformations” (Bray). Bray mentions genetically modified tomatoes that have transferred genes from Artic Halibut to resist frosting temperatures. This is an example of how GM technology can be quite useful to agricultural crops.
GMO crops are super-efficient because they can produce more food with less work while decreasing the amount of pesticides required for naturally grown crops. GMOS increase their harvest with longer growing seasons than compared to natural crops, which saves on land needed for arming (Hoyle). As our world population rises being able to produce more food while using less land are both so important in our day and age. Today there is an estimated population of 1 billion people who are undernourished and hungry who are struggling every day (Hoyle).
Through GM technologies, these people, young and old do not have to go hungry anymore thanks to genetically modified foods. GMOS can be used to grow more nutritious food at faster rates and with greater concentrations of vitamins and antioxidants. Golden rice has been developed to help save children. Golden rice is a biofortified crop, its rice is of a yellow tint that is packed full of beta-carotene (provitamin A) in aiding to end the epidemic that many blind children face in third world countries (Tang).
My own view is that if GM foods can help combat world hunger and provide therapeutic value to many lives, there must be a rightful place for GMOS in our society. GMOS can even help slow down the process of global warming. A study that came out in 2015 examined the environmental impacts of genetically modified crop use from 1996-2013 found that pesticide use and carbon missions “result[ed] in a significant reduction in the release of greenhouse gas emissions from the GM cropping area. In 2013, this was equivalent to removing 12. million cars from the roads” (Brookes).
The amount of land used to produce GM crops is smaller because the harvest amount is higher than non-GMO crops which equates to less farming equipment needed and smaller amount of fuel is required. GM agriculture is a great means to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and slowing down global warming. Food can be genetically modified to improve the taste and textures. GM have longer shelf lives. GM foods are frequently rated higher than naturally grown alternatives in blind tastings.
The Grocery Manufacturers of America say that roughly 75 percent of U. S. processed foods contain GM ingredients but less than half know that what is being sold in the super markets are GMO (Bray). Consumers are basically in the dark because here in there are no federal laws requiring the labeling of foods containing GM ingredients here in the United States (Hoyle). There are no restrictions and labels needed to inform the consumer of genetically modified food which protestors to GMOS are troubled about.
When there are no labels this makes people fearful, it leaves room for people to think that there is something being hidden from the public, which feeds into the idea that GMOS are dangerous to our health. But by focusing on the lack of GMO labeling and thinking it’s all from a health point of view, people overlook the deeper problem behind the lack of labeling, which is choice. The choice as a consumer, to be able to understand what it is that is being presented in front of us and choosing what we believe is the best option for oneself.
The main oppositions against GMOS nclude environmental risks, the uncertainties of what GMOS are doing to our health in the long term and how GMO Big business are stealing profits and the livelihood from small farmers. Hoyle states in Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms, “while GMO crops may have proven larger annual yields, small farmers suffer from the fact that most agribusiness companies require farmers to repurchase genetically modified seeds each year (i. e. farmers cannot hold back a portion of seeds for replanting). The commercial control and potential monopolization of food production is a continuing controversy” (Hoyle).
Companies like Monsanto are making huge profits while kicking the small farmers where it really hurts, their profits. My own feelings on these oppositions against GMOS are mixed. I went into researching this topic with these same oppositions in mind. I did not feel like I could be swayed from these arguments but I find that in the end the benefits for GMOS outweigh the negatives against them. Although I agree that the greed of companies like Monsanto need to be checked and regulated in a fairer fashion, overall, I believe in what GMOS are trying to accomplish on a lobal level.
Genetically modified crops can realistically help feed the almost one billion undernourished, impoverished people that need our help. The GMO crops prove to be more resilient and require less pesticides which is beneficial for the environment and slowing down the processes of Global Warming. Through GM technology the taste and health properties of food are also improved. I believe that we need to educate the people in our country on the benefits of what GM technology can do and come up with solutions together on how to improve the kinks along the way.