Genetically Modified Organisms
March 05, 2017
What are GMOs?
A GMO is an organism (a living thing) that had their DNA altered by some means of biotechnology. When most people think of GMOs, it is usually related to genetically modified foods.
Why create GMOs?
Biotechnology can make food better and less susceptible to damage. It can also increase yields and lower costs.
Herbicide tolerant GMOs have been developed that allow farmers to spray more weed killer without damaging the crop. Other common types of GMOs are plants that contain their own natural insecticide that is harmful to crop-destroying bugs, but not to beneficial insects.
What Types of Foods Are GMOs?
The largest crops. The food that makes our food. Corn, cotton (oil), canola, alfalfa, soybean, and more. Approximately 70 percent of foods in the supermarket contain genetically engineered ingredients.
GMO tomatoes, potatoes and apples have been genetically modified to ripen later and reduce bruising.
Are GMOs Safe?
That depends on who you ask. If you ask a global corporation that makes GMO seeds and herbicides, the answer might be “Our GMOs are entirely safe—if they weren’t, you would be sick by now. Let’s save the planet!” The same question given to a Hollywood activist could bring a passionate plea of “We must protect our children from these Frankenfoods! Let’s save the planet!”
I won’t give you my opinion, because I don’t know. This is one of those issues, like climate change, where there is so much money at stake that scientists, researchers, and bloggers (not me), are paid to contradict unbiased science, which makes it hard for a layperson to know who is telling the truth.
I think it is safe to say that we do not know the long-term effects of GMOs on the public or the environment, because the GMOs are ever evolving.
What are the Pros and Cons of GMOs?
These are the claims on both sides of the GMO table:
Positive effects of GMO foods
Some GMO crops need less insecticide (good for farmers, consumers and the environment).
Can help feed a growing population.
Nutrients can be added.
Crops resistant to disease, heat, cold, or drought.
Foods that last longer.
Adverse effects of GMO foods
Unintended effects on humans and other organisms.
Some GMO crops allow for more insecticide to be applied.
Ingesting GMOs that contain antibiotics, can make human antibiotic medications less effective.
Gene transfer or natural defenses creating weeds that are unaffected by current herbacides
Natural defenses creating bugs that require the use of more insecticide.
Genetic modification changes the food, so people could be allergic to something they were not sensitive to before.
When money talks, vegetables walk
GMOs are here to stay and will only grow in variety. No grass roots effort is going to keep mega-corporations from asserting their will on the public. Most people don’t care much about the environment--until it affects them locally, and it does not matter how their food is made, if it gets them through the day. JMO.
Article by Jack Hanson
Image by Mike Beauregard from Nunavut, Canada (Sea of Cotton) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Canola flowers Image by CSIRO [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Potato murder by Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay
Pretty Woman Carrot by eyecmore via Flickr
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