GMO Foods are Killing Us
According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, GMOs are ubiquitous in the food supply–present in about 80 percent of processed foods in the United States of America (Linden 1). People use genetic modification to improve the quality and quantity of foods. In Gandhi’s explanation of The Seven Deadly Social Sins, he explains how Science without humanity is when scientists or people in general, develop new technologies without taking into consideration of what they may do to humans. In this case, they modify foods without informing people about the negative effects that they may have. The practice of genetically modifying foods is prominent throughout the United States and people need to be aware of how harmful they are to humans, animals and the environment. Genetically modified organisms are living creatures that has been genetically altered using biotechnology. Genes from DNA are taken out of one organism and placed in another to get a specific desired trait (Ruhs 1). Genetically modified foods have a similar concept of changing certain traits in order to make it better but involves food being modified (Ann 2). For example, plants are modified to enhance growth and nutritional profile of food crops (“Food from Genetically Engineered Plants” 1). GM foods are made from crops grown from seeds with genetically modified DNA (“GMOs: Pros and Cons” 1). Some parts of a food product has been modified or used modified crops during manufacturing (Linden 1). In the 1980’s, a genetically modified food supplement called L-tryptophan killed and caused illnesses (Ann 2). From then on scientists have been questioning if other genetically modified foods have been connected to health complications in humans. According to Dr. Thierry, Dr Pushpa M. Bhargava, a biologist, believes that the increase in diseases affecting Americans today are due to GMOS (Grignon 2).
Furthermore, research indicated serious health risks when eating modified foods. They include infertility, accelerated aging, organ damage, and cancer. (Smith, M 1). Speculations of the rise of infertility, low birth weight babies and other reproductive ailments in the United States population may be because of modified foods (Ann 4). Genetically modified foods are known for their selective abilities. In the process of modifying, as Dr. Thierry states: You need a way to select for the cells to be engineered because not every cell is engineered. And until very recently, the way to do that was to insert another gene (at least the gene you want), an antibiotic resistant gene, usually bacterial genes. And that antibiotic resistance gene is in the genome; it’s in the roots, it can go into the soil, so that can be picked up by the bacteria in the soil (Gringnon 4). Scientists modify food using antibiotic resistance genes in the process which can cause consumers to get infected by the antibiotic resistant gerne (“GMOs: Pros and Cons” 2). Antibiotics are a type of drug that is used to kill dangerous bacteria in the body that can cause serious illnesses such as MRSA, Pneumonia, etc. If The Antibiotic resistant gene gets in the body it can be dangerous. The reason being Antibiotic-resistant bacteria resist antibiotics, making it harder to kill which can ultimately lead to death. Since, there is no other method to kill the dangerous bacteria that causes and worsens diseases. Moreover, the bacteria infects millions of people each year killing approximately 20,000 people per year (2). Mixing genes from unrelated species unleashes a host of unforeseeable side effects (Smith 1). When people modify food they have no way in telling what effects that it can have in humans. Scientists noticed that the process of creating GM foods can lead to massive collateral damage that produces new toxins and allergens (2). The reason being, genetic modification causes mutations all throughout the plant’s DNA. Natural genes can be deleted or permanently turned on or off, and hundreds may change their behavior. Even the inserted gene can be damaged or rearranged, and may create proteins that can trigger allergies (“Health Risks” 2) Because scientists mix genes from different foods together in order to make genetically modified foods, it can lead to allergic reactions (Linden 1).
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When GM soy was introduced, a lot of reports that allergies caused by soy increased (Ann 5). Researchers found that modified soy have up to seven times more of the allergens called trypsin inhibitor than non-GM soy (Ann 5). Recently, GMOs have been in demand due to their herbicide and pesticide resistant properties. Herbicides are harmful toxins used to kill off unwanted vegetation such as weeds, while pesticides are also harmful toxins but are only used to prevent insects or other animals from damaging crops. Damaged crops equal less profits and less profits are not what farmers/companies want so instead of using natural agriculture they use Genetically modified crops to gain and save more money. Between the 1990’s and late 2000’s, farmers sprayed an extra 383,000,000 pounds of herbicide on genetically modified crops (Smith 5). According to Dr. Theirry, “Herbicide use is actually increasing in alarming rates and because of this vegetation has adapted to those toxins and are now becoming harder to kill.” As stated in a interview with a former soil and genetic scientist, “people are becoming more concerned with these crops because there are now Superweeds that are resistant to these toxins (Grignon 2).” These genetically modified crops are used so regularly that farmers/companies are using more toxins which are harming the environment. The overuse of pesticides and herbicides in modified food is the one of the most common causes of pollution. Genetically modified crops reduce biodiversity, pollute water resources and are unsustainable (Smith 2).
Increasing numbers of GMO pollution outlast the effects of global warming a nuclear waste (2). Air pollution causes damage to crops, animals, forests, and bodies of water. It also contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer, which protects the Earth from the sun’s UV rays. Another negative effect of air pollution is the formation of acid rain, which harms trees, soils, rivers, and wildlife. GMOs are known for their terminator genes. Terminator genes are an interference technology where the seed or pollen becomes infertile (Grignon 6). GMOs cross pollinate and their seed can travel making it not possible to fully clean the contaminated gene pool (Smith 2). It is possible to pass on infertility due to cross pollination. Furthermore, in the event of cross pollination, pollen travels to other plants which then leaves to fertilization. When they are fertilized they make seeds and those seeds can have the terminator gene causing them to be sterile. Dr Thierry states, “that’s why so many people are concerned about it. Imagine you had a field of corn with a gene for infertility and the gene spread around to the whole agricultural area and was picked up from other crops (Grignon 6).” The Genetically modified seeds can spread through the air and also contaminate organic and non-GMO crops (Smith 1).
Not only do Herbicides affect humans and the environment but they can also have negative effects on animals. Researchers found that they can cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths, endocrine disruptors, and organ damage in animals even at low dosages (Smith 4). This is because of the amount of toxins that the herbicides have in them. Insecticide-resistant crops may increase of pesticide that ultimately may wipe out beneficial insects, such as bees, that play an important role in pollination (Ruhs 2). For example, Insecticides used in higher amounts on GM corn seed have been implicated in colony collapse disorder in bees (Smith, M 1). GM crops harm a lot of different types of animals including birds, insects, and amphibians. They also harm marine ecosystems, and soil organisms (Smith 4). The cross-pollination method can cause damage to other organisms that thrive in the environment (Bawa 4). That is because Genetically modified crops are ruining the homes of monarch butterflies, whose populations are down 50% in the United States of America (Smith 4). The US food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require a safety study in GMO foods (Smith 2). The regulatory agencies, when they want to test for the safety of genetically engineered crops, all they need to show is that the protein that was inserted into the plant is safe, but they don’t go and test the new protein actually created in the plant (Grignon 2).
FDA’s policy for regulating modified foods does not require additional testing to prove safety (Ruhs 2). In the regulations from the FDA and they are very clear: that if you are putting something on the market that is not substantially equivalent, something that is a little bit different, something that has a new protein or proteins are a little bit different, or the nutrients are a little bit different, then automatically they must do testing. Since 1996, they have completely waived responsibility, saying it’s completely substantially equivalent, claiming there are no differences, therefore companies don’t even need to look at them or do any substantial testing for safety (Grignon 3). As Dr. Vrain states, the reason for companies to push aside safety studies or studies in all involving GMO foods is because “most investors in the biotech companies just want to make money (3).” In the United States, no federal mandate exists for labeling GM foods making it harder for people can tell if it is Gmo or not (“GMOs: Pros and Cons.” 3). The FDA knows that a lot of consumers want to know if there are ingredients in foods that has been modified. Labeling issue guidance for manufacturers who wish to voluntarily label their products (“Food from Genetically Engineered Plants” 4). Manufacturers do not label food products because they think that it can affect their business (Bawa 4).
All over Europe there is labeling and as soon as you have labeling, there are no more GMOs because people don’t want them (Grignon 4). Consumers want more important information on food packages, not a warning they just want to be aware of its contents (“Campbell’s will start labeling GMOs” 1). Consumer concern about GMOs led to a staggering increase in sales of non-GMO project verified products from $0 when the label first launched, to more than $3.5 billion 3 years later (Smith, M 1). People should avoid eating processed foods whenever they can because they most likely contain GMOs. If a person wants to avoid GMO foods, they can start off by going organic. Organic foods least likely have GMOs (Landes-Gilman 3). The AAEM (FDA) wants medical professionals to prescribe non-GMO diets to patients (Smith 1.) The most common foods on the genetically modified list are corn, soy, alfalfa, canola and milk (Linden 3). When buying food products look for GMO labels (2). Growing food ensures safety because the person would know if the food was modified or not (Landes-Gilman 3). Inform others about GMO products and the harm it could cause to their health (2).