Sarah Grace Goolden
Genetically Modified Organisms, often referred to as GMOs, have gotten a bad reputation in recent years. Lack of knowledge can perpetuate misinformation and fear. In the case of GMOs, I think a lot of importance has been placed on eradicating GMOs altogether, but that is not where it should be. Education should be the number one priority, and choice should be emphasized. Everyone has the right to both organic food or GMOs, but the consumer should be aware of why they are making that choice.
GMOs are categorized as any organism whose genetic material has been altered. Modern corn has been bred to be resistant to insects. 90 percent of the soybeans in the market are resistant to a certain herbicide. If you weren’t thinking about GMOs, check the food you eat everyday. Our society lives on them.
Starting in 2020, GMOs will need to be slapped with a label. I think this can be both a good and a bad thing. People have a right to know what they are buying, and they are entitled to know if a product is genetically modified or if it contains genetically modified ingredients.
Transparency is never a bad thing. However, this will definitely deter people from buying GMOs out of possible misinformation. After all, if you see two bags of sugar and one says “organic” and the other “genetically modified,” you’re probably gonna go with the first one, even if you know nothing about either.
Often times, we associate GMOs with food, but there are other instances when they are beneficial. Insulin became the first GMO medical product in the early ‘80s. Previously, it was created from animal pancrea, and caused allergic reactions. Insulin is life or death for people with diabetes. There are also GMO vaccines, including hepatitis A and B, polio and whooping cough. Cotton is genetically modified as well.
We’re creating drought and pesticide resistant crops. GMOs that are less prone to bruising and browning mean less waste. Nutrition can also be enhanced by increasing vitamins and Omega 3s, and eliminating trans fat. There are many benefits to GMOs, so why are people swearing them off altogether?
Some say that GMOs cause cancer. The truth is that there is currently no evidence to support this claim.
Alliance for Science Ghana, a network of farmers, scientists and researchers, states that, “no credible study has ever proven that GMOs have caused cancer among the population in countries like America, Brazil, South Africa, etc. where they are consumed widely. In fact, there is evidence that cancer rates have been lower over the last 20 years in countries where GMOs are consumed, than in countries where they are not on the market.”
There is concern for the farmers, however. Roundup Ready crops are crops that are genetically modified to be resistant to the popular weed killer Roundup. This is great in the sense that more produce ends up surviving since it is not contaminated and killed by the weed control. The caveat to this is that these crops are resistant only to Roundup, and only using one type of weed killer can eventually make them resistant to it.
Research is still being conducted, and none of us know what the future holds. GMOs could end up being as bad for us as cigarettes, or we could create real-life Senzu beans. If the possibility of GMO-related health concerns is frightening to you, go ahead and look for that Non-GMO Project sticker. It is your right as a consumer to choose what products you buy. The important takeaway is that you have the right to organic food just like I have the right to corn, sugar, squash and all the other delicious GMOs out there.