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The Ugly Truth - GMOs

Updated on July 8, 2016

The Safety Question

In regards to the United States of America, land of the free, “It is estimated that 60 to 70 percent of all processed foods available on store shelves contain GMO ingredients,”(Erdosh). This boom in genetically modified products has led to quite the controversy about the safety, quality, side effects, and labeling in recent times. Genetically modified organisms have been around for decades now, but it wasn’t until recently that the majority of North American food consumed contained these organisms. There is question about the safety of these organisms especially since the FDA doesn’t require safety testing for any genetically modified organisms, (Prevention). In addition, other countries, Europe’s being the biggest instigators, have been fighting against GMOs and have required labeling as the minimal requirement (Bernauer). The people of America deserve to, at the very least, know the truth about what they’re consuming. The federal government should require labeling for all genetically modified foods (GMOs).


“It is estimated that 60 to 70 percent of all processed foods available on store shelves contain GMO ingredients.”

— Erdosh

Science Isn't Clear - Money Behind The Industry Is

Science has been unable to point steadily in just one direction regarding the safety of genetically modified organisms. GMOs have the potential to be dangerous, especially in the area of allergens and carcinogens for the consumers. “In the mid-'90s, the biotech seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred International tried putting Brazil nut genes in soybeans to boost their nutritional value. In a small study, researchers discovered that human volunteers who were allergic to Brazil nuts experienced strong allergic reactions to extracts of the soybeans,” (Prevention). According to the peer reviewed article, “Are you Eating Test-Tube Food?” Dr. Mellon, along with other scientists, fears about the allergens that won’t be recognized as allergens and, therefore, not labeled as so. Most allergens are proteins and the potential for the proteins that come from soil bacteria to cause anaphylactic shock to an unknowing consumer hang thick in the air of these worried scientists (Prevention). In addition, the possibility of toxins and carcinogens slipping their way into genetically modified products shouldn’t be a surprise to informed consumers – or to the biotech scientists who create and promote them. “When a group of rats that were fed GE potatoes showed signs of intestinal changes, heated debate ensued about whether the process could make foods toxic,” (Prevention). According to an article titled “To GMO or not to GMO,” rot-resistant tomatoes had to be withdrawn from both stores and crops due to questions of carcinogens being produced with the rot resistance trait (Erdosh). In addition to safety risks for consumers, biological risks are also taking the stage and receiving a lot of debate.


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Potential For An Environmental Disaster

The effects that GMOs could have on the environment are unknown and could be disastrous. “They [consumers and environmental groups] have highlighted environmental risks such as the reduction of biological diversity, out-crossing of superbugs, gene leakage and the agricultural sustainability of GM crops,” (Bernauer). According to “Are you Eating Test-Tube Food?” there was a study done at Cornell University. “This study showed that monarch butterfly larvae died after eating milkweed dusted with GE corn pollen containing a pesticide,” (Prevention). The study concludes that genetically modified organisms may produce, “ripple effects that we can't completely anticipate-or reverse,” (Prevention). The article “To GMO or not to GMO” claims in regards to GMOs, “The impact on the environment may include the development of "superweeds" or harm to species that are not pests.” As one might see, the results could be tragic to both the health of the consumer and the environment. It’s no wonder Europe and many other countries are jumping on the band wagon of banning or, at the very least, requiring the labeling of GMOs.


Let The People Know, Label GMOs

The US should join the rest of the world and require labeling of GMOs. The United States of America and Argentina remain the only two countries left to not require the labeling of GMOs, (Lapidus). This is sad considering the US has the strictest labeling regulation system in the world. That is, until it comes down to genetically modified organisms. Europe, on the other hand, while typically having a much more laid back stance on required labeling, is stepping up to the plate and cracking down hard on GMOs (Bernauer). “Are you Eating Test-Tube Food?” gives readers a glimpse at the different continents and their view points on the issue. “Since the first genetically engineered (GE) food-a new breed of tomato-hit the market in 1994, the issue has at times dominated headlines in Europe, caused protests, and led to vociferous public debates. The controversy over the production and safety of GE food arrived on American shores quietly, but it's been gaining momentum,” (Prevention). “Gmos And The Developing World: A Precautionary Interpretation Of Biotechnology," explains, “consumers in Europe and Japan are unwilling to purchase GM products; and many governments around the globe remain skeptical about the usefulness, safety and need for GM crops and foods. As a result, very few countries have adopted the technology. The US produces by far the lion’s share of GM crops, followed by Canada and Argentina,” (Lieberman). In addition, many developing African countries are also fully against GMOs and six African nations went as far as refusing “shipments of food aid containing GMOs (genetically modified organisms). In 2004, two further countries refused GM food aid,” (Lieberman). “A TOP African scientist has been denied entry by Canada as a punishment, he claims, for opposing North American policy on genetically modified organisms,” claims the article, “Gene Critic Barred.” Canada, working alongside the US refused to let this African scientist into Canada because he planned to attend a biotech convention and he wanted to press for labeling of GMOs in both Canada and the US. He was later granted access, but not in time to attend the convention, (New Scientist). It seems strange that the US, and Canada as well, are so set on the avoidance of labels for genetically modified foods.


Labeling GMOs Shouldn't Be a Burden? Oh Wait,$$$

With so many resources, it shouldn’t be a problem to print labels and let consumers know what they’re putting into their bodies. Genetically modified organisms have not been proven to be safe or effective and most countries are skeptical of their purpose and safety. The United States is at an unnecessary stand-still. The potential of harming both consumers and the environment is at risk and no one is even lifting a finger to halt or label the possible danger. Without paying extra to buy organic, there is no way to know if one’s food has been modified or not. Considering there are currently more modified crops than natural crops in the US it’s safe to say that they are. However, consumers have the right to know for sure what they’re purchasing. Welcome to America, once land of the free, now land of the uninformed.


Citations

"Are You Eating Test-Tube Food?." Prevention 52.5 (2000): 122. Health Source Consumer Edition. Web. 12 May 2014

Bernauer, Thomas, and Erika Meins. "Technological Revolution Meets Policy And The Market: Explaining Cross-National Differences In Agricultural Biotechnology Regulation." European Journal Of Political Research 42.5 (2003): 643-683. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 May 2014.

Erdosh, GeorgeLusted, Marcia Amidon. "To GMO Or NOT To GMO?." Odyssey 23.2 (2014):15. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 18 May 2014.

"Gene Critic Barred." New Scientist 186.2501 (2005): 30. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 May 2014.

Lapidus, Jennifer. "Cloning And GMO Foods. (Cover Story)." New Life Journal: Carolina Edition 8.2 (2007): 18. Consumer Health Complete - EBSCOhost. Web. 12 May 2014.

Lieberman, Sarah, and Tim Gray. "Gmos And The Developing World: A Precautionary Interpretation Of Biotechnology." British Journal Of Politics & International Relations 10.3 (2008): 395-411. Academic Search Premier. Web. 18 May 2014.

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