The Truth Behind GMOs
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 it surprises me that such a large amount of people remain so opposed to food bioengineering. We allow the phone in our pocket to emit electromagnetic radiation against our body everyday, yet when we see our tomatoes are labeled GMO, all bets are off the table. Most of this resistance is due to the fact that we aren’t given enough information to make the correct choice. When the microwave first came out, many of our grandparents refused to get within 500 feet of them, let alone cook with them in their own home. Modified foods and their sources may sound unfamiliar and scary, but their creators aim to engineer food that provides health benefits, is naturally pest resistant, and end famine by creating greater yields with less space. 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, neither of which being true.
As stated earlier, a majority of non-GMO bias simply comes from people’s lack of understanding on the subject. Evidence points to the fact that adults who are educated about genetically-modified foods (GMOs) not only accept their safety but consume them without hesitation. In fact, based on a 2018 Pew Research Poll, 65% of respondents who eat a fair amount of GMO food report that they have read a great deal on the subject and feel well-informed. Those who admit ignorance about GMOs, on the other hand, fear and avoid them. Among GMO-abstainers, many of whom admit to having “health concerns” about the products, a whopping 75% also admit they have read nothing about genetic modification or GMO foods. 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. 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.
Although many believe with the production of all that food must come thousands of pesticides killing the planet, it simply isn’t true. Many believe that GMOs simply aren’t worth all the use of herbicides, as the NonGMO Project objects “More than 80% of all genetically modified crops grown worldwide have been engineered for herbicide tolerance. As a result, the use of toxic herbicides, such as Roundup®, has increased fifteenfold since GMOs were first introduced.” However, Brooke Borel explains in her article “The Pros and Cons of Herbicide-Tolerant GMOs” how with this Roundup system, “farmers could stop tilling, which prevented the associated environmental pitfalls.” Tilling actually causes a great deal of harm to the environment in many ways, from polluting waterways to killing nearby plants and animals. Borel continues in stating, “Glyphosate also has a low toxicity—lower than that of caffeine. ‘It’s probably one of the safest herbicides in terms of environment and human health,’ says Keith Solomon, an environmental toxicologist and pesticide toxicology expert at the University of Guelph in Ontario.”
Additionally, 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.
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/
Borel, B. (2014, July 21). The Pros and Cons of Herbicide-Tolerant GMOs. Retrieved from https://www.popsci.com/blog-network/our-modern-plagues/pros-and-cons-herbicide-tolerant-gmos
Fishel, F., Ferrell, J., & MacDonald, G. (2016, March 11). Herbicides: How Toxic Are They? Retrieved from http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pi170
7 thoughts on “Rebuttal Rewrite- Alpacaqueen”
I responded during class to many ways your first paragraph could be improved, Alpaca. So far I don’t see any of those recommendations reflected here. I’ll take a look at the rest of your work now and see if I can be of any help. Please make this a dialog in which we respond to one another.
I’m going to make your second paragraph the focus of an in-class demonstration, Alpaca. Maybe this is how feedback will go for your work: one paragraph at a time, one class at a time. But do please respond, revise your work as you see fit, and return it to Feedback Please with changes and comments of your own.
Professor Hodges, I apologize for the late response. I greatly appreciate the feedback and concern! I have edited this an placed it in the feedback please category.
Making a few notes as I go:
You’ll need to purge the 2nd-person language from all your work. Notice how many times you address your readers directly here as YOU or YOUR. Admit we all have this problem by using WE language instead. “we all have a hard time avoiding them.”
You’ll have to purge the folksy “I know what YOU’RE thinking” language later in the essay too, AQ. Just do a search of the page for YOU and get rid of all of it. (Sorry, you just can’t talk to your readers directly.)
Your Rebuttal Argument requires a credible authority to “debate,” AQ. Surely there are credible scientific voices that warn against the possible hazards of Genetic Modification. If so, name THEM and refute THEM. So far, four paragraphs into your essay, I see that your primary “opponent” in this conversation is the general public, whose concerns are not based in scientific evidence but in ignorance.
If you can make an ADVANTAGE of this situation, by all means go for it, but do so VERY OPENLY and directly. Say, for example, “No legitimate science disputes the safety of genetic modification to the food we eat. The only argument against it is baseless fear. Once consumers know the truth about GM foods, they buy and eat them without hesitation.”
But, more likely, there are good scientists with SOME REAL concerns. Maybe they don’t object to the tomato that’s been altered with a bit of salmon DNA. But they MIGHT WELL object that genetic modification is done more often to make plants resistant to herbicides or pesticides so they can be inundated with toxic chemicals without dying. If you have a rebuttal for THAT argument, you’ll accomplish something very valuable.
The one you offer is very tempting.
What the NonGMO Project meant by that claim, and would still stand by, is that GM crops are designed to tolerate herbicides SO THEY CAN BE SPRAYED TO HELL AND BACK, killing every weed—and all living plants—in the neighborhood but leaving the crops alive. The argument here is that serious overspraying results, introducing far more toxins into the environment than before the modification.
You’re mixing apples and oranges (or apples and worms) when you fail to distinguish PESTICIDES from HERBICIDES, AlpacaQueen. It’s good when plants can be resistant to BUGS (requiring less PESTICIDE to kill the PESTS), but that doesn’t make them resistant to WEEDS (which require the spraying of HERBICIDES to kill the HERBS, or WEEDS). See the difference?
Your argument will need to recognize that distinction.
This claim is a serious over-reach:
By and large your work is quite impressive, AQ. I hope my notes don’t discourage you from improving what is already a very nice piece of academic reasoning.
Got it, Professor. I’ll try to find some more evidence from scientists or researchers to refute. Do you think I should eliminate that sentence, “Believe it or not, organic foods also contain pesticides, and their consumption has no effect on human health.?” I just included it because I found from many sources that subjects who ate these foods had no poor health implications.
The claim that organic foods contain pesticides is perfectly reasonable, AQ, and doesn’t need to go. I understand your motivation for keeping it. My objection is to the brass it takes to say that anything we ingest “has no effect on human health”!