Are G.M.O. Foods Safe?
Following the discovery of the double helix, DNA structure in 1953, genetic engineering became increasingly popular in experimenting with different genetic traits, within different organisms. The science behind Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is different from selective breeding. It involves the insertion of DNA from one organism into another, or a modification of an organism’s DNA in order to achieve a desired trait. Today, scientist and farmers have teamed up in producing GMO’s with animals and plants that have affected today’s food. While many are unaware about genetically modified foods, (GM Foods) and taste no difference, other people have become concerned with the safety of genetically modified foods in their grocery stores and homes. There are often two opposing sides in determine if, genetically modified organisms are healthy and safe for a human’s diet. With research from both sides, this paper will allow people to decide for themselves, with an unbiased stand point.
When discussing genetically modified foods, they are often referred to as Frankenfoods that highlight the science behind the food. Biotechnology expert Josh Arnold, Ph.D. has worked with genetically modified foods and has a great understanding of the science, allowing him to advocate for the benefits of GM foods, against the common concerns. First things first, safety. The main concern about producing GM foods and then redistributing them into grocery stores is that people are skeptical about how safe the products are. According to Arnold, Genetically modified food products are among the most tested products in history. Within the United States, GM food items must be thoroughly tested before they can be sold.
How it works
The testing procedure can take 7-10 years which is far more testing than conventional harvests. The process must incorporate assessments of potential risk to people and livestock, in addition, to potential dangers to wild life and the environment. A portion of the testing incorporates nutritional and protein analysis and its portrayal. In these examinations, researchers study the proteins and peptides within the bioengineered organism in comparison to the original. This enables scientists to recognize any new proteins made by the GM crop that could create an allergic reaction or any other defect. Peer-reviewed evidence from the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the British Royal Society have all concluded that foods containing GM ingredients are as safe as the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional techniques.
Often, people believe GMOs are a marketing scam, where farmers have become lazy and scientist are just taking over. However, Arnold disagrees. Scientist have dedicated research and time, using biotechnology for the intention of making food more nutritious, helping with malnutrition, creating a cure for blindness, and improving our environment. According to an article from National Geographic, What Would a World Look Like Without GMOs? humans would be losing many potential breakthroughs in solving the worlds most vexed problems. In 1994, the first genetically modified food hit the market as Flavr Savr, a slow ripening tomato.
The biotech company Calgene, engineered the tomato to produce higher levels of nutrients called anthocyanins, which had been studied to be protective against a wide range of human diseases. Although the first experiment was not that successful, it struck a movement to modify food for the purpose of saving lives. A few years later in 2000, Ingo Potrykus constructed Golden Rice as another experiment with the same intention as the tomato. Global research and development organization for science and technology, Battelle, claims The Golden Rice Project seeks to bring vitamin-A enriched rice to market to help prevent nearly 500,000 cases of childhood blindness and 2 million deaths caused by vitamin-A deficiency in third world countries each year. Yet these breakthroughs are being postponed to the market because of the public’s uncertainty and lack of knowledge when dealing with GMO’s.
Riding GMO’s would be starting all over with all the research and solutions already found. Scientist have found ways to safely modify these animals and crops for the better of humans. National Geographic states, There are not enough fish in the ocean to feed the 9 billion people expected on the planet by 2050, and that is why farmers and scientist have spent the time researching for resources. Last year the Food and Drug Administration approved the modification of salmon, that alters it’s growing size and speed. Farmers and scientist are not trying to force everyone to eat GMO products, just trying to have it as an option for those in need, that could benefit and improve their lives.
Soon after the tomato was brought to the public in the mid 1990’s movements against GM products started to rise. Movements like The Non-GMO Project, Millions against Monsanto, and Organic Consumer Association have all dedicated time and research in being against genetically modified food and products. The most common reason for wanting to rid GMO’s is that consumers claim they have no option or information about the products that contain GM ingredients, as well as the safety of the process. Wanting GM foods labeled in the grocery store is understandable and a right for a human to know what they are putting in their bodies.
However, the controversary lies between how safe the process and science are. An anti-GMO organization called Consumers Union, crafted a study to see how safe GM feed to animals were, to get a better insight as to what genetically modified foods do, at least to animals. The study looked at pigs fed GE corn and soy under commercial production conditions over a 22.7 week period. Compared to a control group that was fed conventional corn and soy, the GE-fed pigs showed significant increases in severe stomach inflammation and thickening of the uterus. This study was long overdue for Consumers Union. For awhile they have been concerned about the effect GM crops have. With their results they believe this study underlines the need for labeling of GE food, since there still much to learn about their health effects. Consumers Union urges state legislatures, as well as Congress, and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to require labeling of GE foods. Many fear GM products, but it is all because of what they do not know.
According to an article Why People Oppose GMOs Even Though Science Says They Are Safe: Intuition can encourage opinions that are contrary to the facts by Stefaan Blancke he claims many base their opinions on emotions and Psychological essentialism. When is comes to the idea of crossing two different DNA’s people can become disgusted with the thought of contamination, when it does not exactly work that way. Often humans feel resistant to things that may contain or indicate the presence of pathogens such as bodily fluids, rotten meat and maggots. When looking about GM foods people are oblivious to the real science behind it and look at it more simplistically. For example, in an opinion survey in the United States, more than half of respondents said that a tomato modified with fish DNA would taste like fish (of course, it would not). People are taking the basics of the scientific process too literal that causes them to oversee the safe science.
Intuitions have played a huge role in affecting how people think of GM foods. Due to the mind being prone to distorting or rejecting scientific information over more intuitive beliefs, simply transmitting the facts will not necessarily persuade people of the safety, or benefits, of GMOs, especially if people have been subjected to emotive, anti-GMO propaganda. Although these movements are strong, neutral people can see that GM foods are not going anywhere. An article from Genetic Literacy Project, claims 2018 may be the end of anti-GMO movements. Author, Marc Brazeau, says I’m not predicting the end of anti-GMO activism, but rather its ability to be taken seriously in mainstream venues. It’s been building for the last four years or so, but I really think the anti-GMO is headed back to the fringe. Of course, there are flaws in Genetic Engineering, however, science proves the positive and beneficial outcomes outweigh those that have failed or been harmful.
Today farmers have adopted GM seeds, as companies have promised more profitability. An Oxford Research Encyclopedia article, Pros and Cons of GMO Crop Farming states that using GM seeds are beneficial for the crops and farmers, ¦because the traits they were incorporating provided direct operational benefits for farmers that could be linked to increased profits for farmers (Hatfield et al., 2014). In addition, GM seed companies argue that the adoption of GM crops helps to reduce the application of pesticides, which has a direct impact on the sustainability of the cropping systems (Lal, 2004). Some farmers have adapted to this change and have seen great change in their crops without the conventional labor.
Where others are still apprehensive to the new system and cross pollination. Mixing of GM and non-GM crops has led to a variety of issues¦because of the asynchrony of the deregulation of GM crops around the world, the unintended presence of GM crops in food and feed trade channels can cause serious trade and economic issues. Farmers feel as though they lose their choice in harvesting GM crops because of simple cross pollination from neighboring farmers that do grow GM seeds.
Many small farms simply cannot afford the high-priced seed. Between managing livestock, a clean healthy farm, and then adding a more intricate process for growing crops, it is difficult for small farms to keep up. The efforts by GM seed companies to protect their patented seeds through court actions have created financial and social challenges for many farmers. (Marvier & Van Acker, 2005; Semal, 2007). Depending on how financially stable your farm is, it may be a challenge to advance with genetically modified products, or you will reap the benefits associated.
Looking forward, humans should expect a rise in GM foods and a continuance of production all over the world. The act of requiring all GM foods to be labeled will continue to go in motion and should pass to give those an option to participate or not. However, Genetic Engineering is real, and it’s here. The world is advancing and dying at the same time, and it seems each side wants the same thing for humans. They want healthy food that can be produced to feed all and carry on the advance generations, a stable environment that is cruelty free, and an earth that can thrive with or without science. Yet, with the world populating at a high rate, soon we will all be subjected to eat some sort of genetically modified product for survival.