Greetings tried and true intrepidarians.
Living in the Pacific Northwest I am surrounded by many health fanatics. Vegetarian and Vegan alternatives are found almost everywhere here in Portland, especially Portland. One common label I find in food stores is ‘Non GMO.’ After further investigation I found that many people here hate the very notion of eating a GMO. A GMO is genetically modified organism. But, are they really that bad for you? Do they deserve the bad rep?
After a lengthy bit of research I have come to a conclusion: No. Here’s why.
GMOs, although they include genetic material from other plants, animals, bacteria and even viruses are all specially tested before being released for public use. A hardier potato, for instance, which better survives bruising has passed through rigorous tests and trials before being unveiled by scientists (“What You Need to Know About GMOs”-Siegel, Verity). Even genetically modified salmon (made to grow bigger faster) won’t be released to the public any time soon. Furthermore this modified salmon is contained in facilities to prevent it from cross breeding with unmodified salmon in the wild (Siegel, Verity).
The push for GMOs of course is the growing demand of food with a growing global population. Farmers and scientists want to produce crops and animals that will be able to grow faster and be hardier for the booming demand. As Kate Bratskeir puts it in her article: “some plants are genetically modified simply for human benefit; the process has helped to feed the hungry and to amplify a crop’s resistance to insects and harsh weather conditions, making more food available for consumption.” (“Are GMOs Really That Bad?”-Bratskeir) In addition genetic modification is also done to avoid harmful pesticide use (Modern Farmer: Still Life with Mass Hysteria: Are GMOs Really That Bad?’).
In fact, when it comes to the global prevalence of GMOs they’re mostly limited to a few staple crops: “There are only 12 genetically modified (GM) crops grown commercially grown worldwide according to the report. The vast majority of GM acreage is concentrated in cotton, soybeans, corn, sugar beets and canola.” (Weise-“Academies of Science finds GMOs not Harmful to Human Health”)
What then is the cause of fear of GMOs? The general public views them as unnatural and unsafe. One counter to this is the ruby red grapefruit. It is a genetic mutation that occurs in nature. Most of the same Anti-GMO crowd would still eat this grapefruit because it is something that wasn’t cooked up in a lab. With man-made intervention there comes fear of aberration. This fear creates prejudice. Prejudice against anything GMO prevents those who oppose GMOs from seeing how harmless they are and how widespread in use they already are.
Non-GMO advocates will cite sick animals that died while eating GMOs. However, the Van Eenennaam Study and the GENERA database reveals from various testing over the years that cattle get the same results from feeding them GMOs as Non-GMOs (The Debate About GMO Safety Is Over, Thanks To A New Trillion-Meal Study-Jon Entine) thus negating the fear that GMOs produce sickness in animals (and consequently in humans).
In conclusion, GMOs are feared and suspected by the general public as being unsafe despite experts proving them wrong. “For now, the war against GMOs has more basis in economics and democracy than it does in physical health.” says Bratskeir (“Are GMOs Really That Bad?”-Bratskeir). If you still just don’t want to eat them then browse local your store and look for ‘Non-GMO’ options. It’s still common.
Siegel, K., & Verity, S. (2016, April 08). The Truth About GMOs: Are They Safe? What Do We Know? Retrieved September 29, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/truth-about-gmos#1
Bratskeir, K. (2015, July 29). Are GMOs Really That Bad? Retrieved September 29, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/are-gmos-really-that-bad_us_55a40dd0e4b0ecec71bca6a5
Scipioni, J. (2015, September 22). The Truth About Gmos: The Good, The Bad, And The Really Ugly. Retrieved September 29, 2016, from http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2015/09/22/truth-about-gmos-good-bad-and-really-ugly.html
Barth, B. (2016, March 22). Still Life with Mass Hysteria: Are GMOs Really That Bad? – Modern Farmer. Retrieved September 29, 2016, from http://modernfarmer.com/2016/03/gmo/
Haspel, T. (2016, May 17). Scientists Say GMO Foods Are Safe, Public Skepticism Remains. Retrieved September 29, 2016, from http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com/2016/05/17/scientists-say-gmo-foods-are-safe-public-skepticism-remains/
Entine, J. (2014, September 17). The Debate About GMO Safety Is Over, Thanks To A New Trillion-Meal Study. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/09/17/the-debate-about-gmo-safety-is-over-thanks-to-a-new-trillion-meal-study/#1993439fca93
Weise, U. E. (2016, May 17). Academies of Science finds GMOs not harmful to human health. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2016/05/17/gmos-safe-academies-of-science-report-genetically-modified-food/84458872/