A New Light On GMOs
I have yet to wrap my head around why such an immense amount of people still remain so opposed to food bioengineering. We live in a world where feats in science and technology are being made, and accepted, in a variety of fields on a daily basis, so why does it have to stop at food? Humans allow the phone in their pocket to emit electromagnetic radiation against their body everyday, yet when they see their tomatoes are labeled GMO, all bets are off the table. Most of this disapproval is simply from ignorance. I’m sure when the microwave first came out, many people refused to get within 500 feet of them, let alone allow one to heat foods in their own home. Modified foods and their sources may sound unfamiliar and scary, but I assure you the intentions behind their creators are benevolent. The most common issues leaving people reluctant against biotech foods is that they are worse for your health and the environment than their organic counterparts. Luckily, neither of these misconceptions are true.
As stated earlier, a majority of non-GMO bais simply comes from people’s lack of understanding on the subject. A recent set of polls conducted from May 10th to June 6th, 2018 from the Pew Research Center showed a good example of this. In the poll, it showed that 51% of Americans admitted that most or some of the food they eat contain GMOs, while the remaining half of subjects claimed that “not too much” or “none at all” of the food they eat contain GMOs. Among these results, the poll revealed that 65% of those that said they eat a good amount of GMOs have read a lot about genetically modified foods, while a whopping 75% of people who claimed they eat little to no GMOs admit they have read nothing about these foods. You would think these results would be the other way around if modified organisms were as terrible as some perceive them to be. Instead, the poll revealed that most of the people who are consuming GMOs have gathered a lot of information on them, while 75% of the people who stay away from these foods admitted to reading absolutely nothing about them. In another poll conducted by the New York Times, they asked people on Facebook about their opinion on gm foods, their results as follows:
Would you buy food with genetically modified ingredients if you knew they were in there?
Need More Information: 24
This survey revealed that 82.5% of people would not purchase foods if they knew they contained gm ingredients. Considering approximately three-fourths of foods in supermarkets are GMO, you may have a hard time getting around them, and have probably already purchased countless gm products without knowing so. Do not fear, however, this doesn’t mean you’ve killed the planet or will turn ill overnight.
Clearly, a large majority of people who reject biotech foods are so against them because they believe they pose a health risk to themselves or the animals consuming them. This is simply not the case. Thousands of studies have been done researching the long term effects of eating GMO versus organic foods, and many, if not all, of the results conclude that the subjects’ health were unaffected in either circumstance. As for animals, the same rings true. Researchers at the University of California looked at the health of over 100 billion animals after switching their diet from non-GMO to GMO and found no difference in their health. Many people believe that since non-organic foods are sprayed with pesticides, we’ll contract disease if we consume them. Also untrue. Believe it or not, organic foods also contain pesticides, and their consumption has no effect on human health. If anything, genetically modified foods are actually better for your health than organic. Many crops are being engineered to provide health benefits such as increased nutrient levels or aid in disease resistance. In one article by The Food Dialogues, they elaborate on this stating, “Today we have GMO soybean seeds that produce healthier soybean oils, eliminating trans fats and containing increased levels of Omega 3. Tomorrow we hope to have bananas in Uganda that have up to six times as much Vitamin A.” Some scientists are even working to develop foods infused with antioxidants that could prevent cancer. If anything, we should be greeting biotech foods with open arms, not turning against them.
As for the environment, don’t place the devil horns on gm crops for this issue either. Contrary to popular belief, genetically modified foods are working to help the environment, not hurt it. GMOs require a much smaller amount of land to farm than organic, produce a greater yield on top of it and requiring much less water consumption. In one article by “GMOanswers” the piece explained, “Between 1996 and 2015, crop biotechnology was responsible for an additional 180.3 million tons of soybeans, 357.7 million tons of corn, 25.2 million tons of cotton lint and 10.6 million tons of canola, without having to bring more land into production. To produce the same amount of crops without GM technology, farmers would have needed to cultivate 48 million additional acres of land.” Many crops are even engineered to become drought resistance, not only saving water, but helping foods grow in countries where lack of rainfall posed as a critical issue.
Now I know what you’re thinking, with the production of all that food must come thousands of pesticides killing the planet. You’d be mistaken. A great deal of gm crops are being engineered to already contain resistance to insects and diseases without the need of pesticide spray. Quinn Fucile in her article, “Is Genetically Modified Food Safe?” explains this in her statement, “One example is plants engineered to produce BT endotoxin, which is only harmful to insects and will only kill pests that try to feed on the crops. This protects other insects in the environment that may be useful, because farmers no longer have to spray and pesticide, it’s built into the plants.” Not only does this reduce harmful pesticide use that could otherwise damage surrounding land and rivers, but it also allows animal and insect biodiversity to remain abundant. The NonGMO Project even confirms, “More than 80% of all genetically modified crops grown worldwide have been engineered for herbicide tolerance.”
Hopefully I’ve been able to open the public eye, or at least one eye, to the countless benefits that genetically enhanced and biotech foods can bring to the table, and eliminated any prior misconceptions behind them. With all of these advantages that accompany these “new foods,” whether it concerns us or our environment, there is no reason they should be left in the dark any longer.
Bittman, M. (2011, February 24). GMO Poll Results (and More). Retrieved October 31, 2018, from https://bittman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/gmo-poll-results-and-more/
Funk, C., & Kennedy, B. (2016, December 01). Public opinion about genetically modified foods and trust in scientists. Retrieved October 31, 2018, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/12/01/public-opinion-about-genetically-modified-foods-and-trust-in-scientists-connected-with-these-foods/
ModernAg. (2018, October 18). Searching for the Same Solution. Retrieved from https://modernag.org/innovation/gmo-solutions-benefit-environment/
Denialism, D. (2017, February 19). Five Ways GMOs Benefit The Environment – Debunking Denialism – Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@debunkingdenialism/five-ways-gmos-benefit-the-environment-c48eee7e2765
Manager, C. (2017, May 15). GMOs & The Environment. Retrieved from https://gmoanswers.com/gmos-environment
Haspel, T. (2014, October 27). The GMO debate: 5 things to stop arguing. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/the-gmo-debate-5-things-to-stop-arguing/2014/10/27/e82bbc10-5a3e-11e4-b812-38518ae74c67_story.html?utm_term=.0685b16218f7
GMO Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2018, from https://www.nongmoproject.org/gmo-facts/
Fucile, Q. (2015, April 02). Is Genetically Modified Food Safe? Retrieved from http://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/5299/20150402/is-genetically-modified-food-safe.htm
What Are the benefits of GMOs, Both Today and in the Future? (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2018, from http://www.fooddialogues.com/article/benefits-gmos-today-future/