This is a “guest” post. My daughter Madalyn has written a paper on genetically modified organisms and why it is a controversial topic. If you aren’t familiar with GMOs, this is a pretty good overview of some of the dangers.
GMOs: The Controversy
Dating back to the paleolithic era of American history, real food, believe it or not was actually being consumed. Cavemen ate off of the land, hunted, and grew their crops. In the “good ole days,” before the 19th century, an idea American’s have come to know and love over the years had not yet been implicated into society. This “idea” is now commonly known as processed food. Over time Americans have taken a step up in the food processing industry to a new concept, genetically modifying foods so as to transform the size and variation of the food. Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, are plants or animals that have undergone a process wherein scientists alter their genes with DNA from different species of living organisms, bacteria, or viruses to get desired traits such as resistance to disease or tolerance of pesticides. Due to the harmful effects that genetically modified foods inflict upon the environment and the human body, I strongly believe America should ban the use of GMOs.
According to a website that raises awareness about GMOs, today, roughly 85 percent of corn, 91 percent of soybeans, and 88 percent of cotton grown in the U.S. are genetically modified. Other common GMO foods include canola, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, and alfalfa. The argument pertaining to the genetic modification of such a large number of crops is in fact a valid argument. Some may argue the benefits of GMOs, stating that the number of crops being produced could have a significant effect on nutrition and hunger issues in the developing world.
Though it may be true that genetically modifying crops will produce significant amounts of food to aid in world hunger issues, how is feeding people chemicals going to solve any problems?
As mentioned earlier, when a crop is genetically modified, it is not only altered for sizing purposes. Chemical companies genetically engineer DNA from bacteria into food crops to enable them to survive high doses of the herbicides they sell. Overuse of certain pesticides has created “superweeds” and “superbugs,” resulting in GMO crops now being designed to withstand even more toxic herbicides. More toxic herbicides and pesticides being used on these crops results in more residue from these chemicals ending up on the plates of people all over the world. In a recent study done on GMO corn produced by Monsanto, (a leading chemical engineering company), research has discovered a new toxin is being produced that causes the stomachs of insects consuming the toxin to explode. With the resistance to this toxin by the plant constantly building up, more of the toxin will be consumed by humans. If this toxin, commonly known as the BT Toxin, explodes the stomachs of insects, eventually it could have the same affect on humans. In addition to digestive tract issues, the BT Toxin has recently been found in the blood of pregnant women and their babies, and in the now destroyed homes of monarch butterflies, whose population has already gone down 50% in the last nine years. The biggest harm GMOs inflict upon the environment and the human population of the world is the result of one word, PESTICIDES! Yet, there are still several people who believe planting these crops and dumping millions of pounds of pesticides on them are simply keeping bugs out of our crops.
Looking at genetically modified crops on global soil, there are many farmers who have major issues with chemical companies, such as Monsanto. Monsanto will sue any farmer who is supposedly using seeds or pesticides that is owned by the company and will literally confiscate the farm if ONE seed is found on property that does not belong to the company. This is where much controversy comes into play. It is common knowledge that when the wind blows, seeds travel through the air, as well as chemical residue. So if a family farm is located anywhere near a farm owned by Monsanto, it is at a much higher risk of being contaminated. There have been several instances in which family farms have been wrongfully taken over, thus adding more space for genetically modified crops to be grown. See the problem yet?
According to a website opposing GMOs, sixty countries around the world have already put restrictions or bans on GMO products, thus a new question has risen. If sixty countries have already regulated genetically modified crops, why won’t America follow the trend and take similar action? In a recent poll over labeling GMOs, 90% of the American population said they would like to know what they’re eating. There are currently many movements occurring in an attempt to get the United States to label which food products are using GMOs. However, to counter these movements, many corporations are paying whatever cost necessary in order to not have to label their foods. The logic behind not labeling GMO products is very simple; if people realize what they’re eating is genetically modified, they are less likely to spend their money on it.
Over the years, America has transformed from a society of farmers envisioned my Thomas Jefferson, to a society who, rather than eating real home-grown crops, mostly eats food that has been processed or genetically altered. Though beneficial to world hunger issues, genetically modifying crops in order to produce a larger quantity or different variation of the crop, to protect the crop from herbicides, or to simply keep pests away from the crop, has a much more negative impact on the environment and the people of the country than a positive impact. I will henceforth stick to my belief that America should place on ban on the genetic modification of our food.
“GMO Facts.” The NonGMO Project RSS. NonGmo Project, 2014. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.
Bello, Walden, and Foreign Policy In Focus. “Twenty-Six Countries Ban GMOs-Why Won’t the US?” The Nation. Foreign Policy in Focus, 29 Oct. 2013. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.
Caldwell, Maggie. “5 Surprising Genetically Modified Foods.” Mother Jones. Environment, 5 Aug. 2013. Web. 07 Dec. 2014.
Network, Jolie Lee. “What You Need to Know about GMOs.” USA Today. Gannett, 03 Jan. 2014. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.
“What Are We Eating?” LabelGMOs. Label GMOs, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2014.
“What Are GMOs?” TakePart. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.