GMO Labeling

GMO’s Food is a crucial and fundamental necessity of human life. Because of this, the United States had an average of 2.08 million farms in 2014 (Facts, 2018). Production from these farms not only play a factor within the U.S.

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but globally as well. Mexico, Canada, and China are just some of the countries that received agricultural products from the United States in 2015 that added up to a total of $133 billion dollars (Facts, 2018). Such success of exports is due to the attention, care, and quality of production that is put into each product. Shape, size, colour, and overall quality are highly important factors in exports such as fruits and vegetables. Farmers of the United States recognition of this shows through the 82.7 million acres of land harvested in 2017 specifically for corn (USDA, 2018). Farmers receive help in maintaining the value of crops and products through the scientific process of genetic engineering. Also referred to as genetic modification (or GMOs), this artificial process is completed by the extraction of genes from a specific species DNA and forcing it into another species genes (GMO Education, 2018). Genetic engineering has the ability to develop new traits in plants, prevent apples from browning, and create new organisms (GMO Facts, 2018). Majority of processed foods in the U.S. contain GMOs, to include crops such as cotton, soy, corn, and canola (GMO Education, 2018). Although many believe there are positive outcomes of genetic engineering, the amount of research that has gone into the overall safety and true benefits of consumers is little. Because there is a knowledge barrier and lack of credibility of GMOs, the labelling of products that contain any trace of genetic modification should be required. Japan and Australia are two countries that recognize the importance of requiring products that have been genetically modified to be labelled and advertised as so (From Corgis to Corn: A Brief Look at the Long History of GMO Technology, 2016). However, countries such as the United States and Canada have no regulations or laws against unlabeled, genetically modified products (From Corgis to Corn: A Brief Look at the Long History of GMO Technology, 2016). With the lack of evidence and knowledge of GMOs and its effects, this is a hazard for consumers who may not be aware of the unnatural process products of their possession have gone through.

Genetic engineering traces back to as far as 7800 BCE, a time when scientists had first discovered the process of artificial selection of plants (From Corgis to Corn: A Brief Look at the Long History of GMO Technology, 2016). The breakthrough of genetic engineering truly occurred in 1973, when Herbert Boyer, Stanley Cohen, Rudolf Jaenisch, and Beatrice Mintz developed methods to transfer foreign genes of one DNA to another with bacteria and mice (From Corgis to Corn: A Brief Look at the Long History of GMO Technology, 2016). Once research was conducted and guidelines were set for future experiments, the United States Supreme Court had ruled to allow the patenting of GMOs in 1980 (From Corgis to Corn: A Brief Look at the Long History of GMO Technology, 2016). In 1980, the first genetically engineered crop to be approved for production by the United States Department of Agriculture was the Flavr Savr tomato (From Corgis to Corn: A Brief Look at the Long History of GMO Technology, 2016). Flavoured vines, longer periods of ripeness, and reduced chances of rotting during transportation were all results of the reversal of the gene that produces polygalacturonase (an enzyme that softens fruit) in tomatoes (ACS Publications, 2018). Flavr Savr tomatoes were discontinued shortly after its release in 1997 (ACS Publications, 2018). Many concerns and questions arose when a lawsuit revealed 44,000 memos of unreleased studies on the fruit (ACS Publications, 2018). The Californian company Calgene that invented the Flavr Savr tomato had conducted tests on rats that unveiled the many health issues the fruit caused such as internal bleeding, stomach lesions, and death (Smith, 2017). Although scientists of the Food and Drug Administration had given warnings of the risks and effects of genetic modification, this was ignored and has lead to the estimated amount of 193 pounds of GMOs the average American eats every twelve months (Americans Eat Their Weight in Genetically Engineered Food, 2018). According to Dr Pusztai, a scientist against genetic modification, genetic engineering poses a health threat and risk for they are unpredictable and uncontrollable (Arpad Pusztai and the Risks of Genetic Engineering, 2018).

Genetic modification tends to advertise and claim to be created to benefit consumers and businesses. However, recognizing the potential hazards and unnatural problems this process may cause is important. GMOs get recognition for its assistance in improving quality as well as quantity. An example of this is the excessive 17% of overproduction of food taking place within the United States (Lombardo, 2017). Genetic modification has the capability to be transported to areas that are limited to food supplies without spoiling as fast (Lombardo, 2017). GMOs would have the ability to assist in fixing this issue if it did not have connections to cancer, contribution to antibiotic resistance, and the triggering of food allergies (Lombardo, 2017). Six companies have control over the entire genetically modified seed market and individual research is prohibited on anything produced from it (Lombardo, 2017). In January of 2017, a study discovered that glyphosate (the main ingredient of a herbicide) can cause a liver disease that is illegally lower by thousands of doses (Scientist’s Ground-Breaking Research Uncovers New Risks of GMOs, Glyphosate, 2018). Genetic modification has a surplus of dangers and side effects that are unpredictable and cannot be reversed. The cross-pollination of GMOs has caused seeds to travel far from where it originally came from and outlast the strong effects of global warming and nuclear waste (Smith, 2017). As well as having negative effects on farmers and organic crops, the health and well being of future generations is put at stake (Smith, 2017). The widespread of genetic engineering makes creating solutions difficult, however, there are some solutions and even positive effects of GMOs.

Because first impressions seem to be profoundly valued throughout today’s society, GMOs have an important role when it comes to appearance in marketing. Well before products make it to shelves of grocery markets, farmers have to manage and tend to crops. Genetic engineering can help assist farmers through capabilities like herbicide tolerance, disease resistance, and drought resistance (What Are the Benefits of GMOs, Both Today and in the Future, 2018). Genetic engineering can help grow food at a constant, cost-effective rate for population rates that continue to rise up to an expected ten billion people in 2050 (What Are the Benefits of GMOs, Both Today and in the Future, 2018). 90% of scientists believe genetic engineering is entirely safe, but many still question the reliability and actual purpose of genetic modification (Brody, 2018).

The correct labelling and advertisement of GMOs are one of the most efficient and effective ways citizens can become for educated on food source information. There is no evidence of consumer safety and evidence since there has never been any sort of individual, long-term research on genetic modification (GMO Facts, 2018). Although it is currently legal in Canada and the United States for GMOs to be unlabeled, 93% of Americans believe otherwise (GMO Facts, 2018). Just Label It is one of the many organizations that have caught the attention of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) by standing against GMOs and addressing the threats and dangers they possess (It, Just Label, 2018). Proper advertisement and labelling of GMOs will help further inform, educate, and draw attention to the unknown power of genetic engineering.

References

GMO Facts. Non-GMO Project,

USDA Economics, Statistics and Market Information System. USDA ESMIS,

GMO Education. Institute for Responsible Technology,

ACS Publications,

Smith, Jeffrey. Throwing Biotech Lies at Tomatoes Part 1: Killer Tomatoes. Institute for Responsible Technology, 16 Jan. 2017,

EWGFoodNews. Americans Eat Their Weight in Genetically Engineered Food. EWG Tap Water Database,

Arpad Pusztai and the Risks of Genetic Engineering. Organic Consumers Association | Campaigning for Health, Justice, Sustainability, Peace, and Democracy,

Crystal Lombardo. Vittana.org, 10 May 2017,

Scientist’s Ground-Breaking Research Uncovers New Risks of GMOs, Glyphosate. The Organic & Non-GMO Report,

Smith, Jeffrey. 10 Reasons to Avoid GMOs. Institute for Responsible Technology, 16 Jan. 2017,

What Are the Benefits of GMOs, Both Today and in the Future? Food Dialogues,

Brody, Jane E. Are G.M.O. Foods Safe? The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Apr. 2018,

It, Just Label. Right to Know Center. Just Label It,

GMO Facts. Non-GMO Project,

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