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“Genetically Modified Organisms” (GMOs) are probably sitting in your refrigerator as you read this. You have likely seen them many times. They come in the form of strawberries as large as your big toe, apples the size of a small dog’s head, and corn that is so sweet, you would likely think it is a bar of candy if your eyes were closed when biting into it.
The question being posed here in this post is, what are GMO foods, really, and are they dangerous?
GMO foods are sources of food that have had their DNA changed. Scientists can take a gene from another plant or animal, (or even a human), and splice that desired trait into the second organism, thereby changing its genetic makeup. This is how you get enormous blueberries. It is done using recombinant DNA technology and various other biotechnology methods, that work to redesign our food.
It may sound wonderful, but not everyone likes the idea of playing with Mother Nature, however.
So, are GMOs going to save the planet, or destroy our future?
Here are some arguments both for and against the use of genetically modified organisms and foods.
Arguments In Favor of GMOs
As with just about anything controversial, some people love GMOs and others hate them. For those who really like them, In their view, these foods come from plants that have been genetically engineered to be “better.”
For example, sometimes genetically modified organisms are engineered to be more resistant to drought and diseases. This means the plants often take less water to grow, they can require less fertilizer to really thrive, and they also need fewer pesticides to grow without being a target for insects.
Some GMO foods also have longer shelf lives than other comparable products. If altered in the right way, they can actually contain more nutrients in one bite than their non-genetically modified parents and counterparts, some say. Does it all sound good? Yes. When you consider it, these can all be seen as helpful characteristics of GMOs, that can work to add stability to our food chain.
Arguments Against GMOs
Not all is gold that glitters, however. While the benefits of having GMO foods can sound idyllic, obviously they do not come without their drawbacks, at least in some people’s eyes. Some fear that it is possible that, by engaging in genetic alterations, unexpected negative changes could occur in these foods. They fear the possibility that by playing with nature, the foods we alter could end up being less nutritious in the long run and embody other drawbacks.
Some fear it could be possible that GMO foods could contribute towards antibiotic resistance in humans. By altering our edible plants, some fear it could be possible that we also accidentally produce toxins in our environment and increase the prevalence of food allergies in humans.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, however, these worries are unfounded. Their website states that none of the genetically engineered foods to date have caused any of the problems listed above. There is one more item we have not talked about yet, however, and it is one that counts. Genetically engineering our food does not only potentially affect the plant and ourselves, however, it could also have an impact on the environment.
In addition to the previously stated arguments, there is the fact that many of our food sources have been engineered to grow even when glyphosate weed killer, otherwise known as Monsanto’s Roundup, is applied to them. It is uncertain whether Roundup is contributing to the depletion of North America’s bee population, but some believe it could be. Is it something we should be dousing on our food? Perhaps it is time to consider looking for alternative routes of production that won’t harm the environment’s insects.
GMO foods are likely here to stay. Humans have been cross-breeding plants as well as animals for centuries. Is it wise to be skeptical about new technologies and the benefits they can bring, as long as the decision to question is founded in science? Or is it more important to trust the scientists are doing the right thing and enjoy your purple broccoli?
According to the US National Library of Medicine, these worries are unfounded, however. Their website states that none of the genetically engineered foods to date have caused any of the problems listed here.