6 October 2013
The Unnatural Approach
For many years, people have been eating fast food without knowing the process the food goes through to make it taste the way it tastes. Even some today don’t know how fast food comes to be when it is set on the tray in front of them. Well, one may think that it’s just prepared by someone in the back of the restaurant, but if you go beyond the preparation of the meal, there are things that may make him or her not want to eat this type of food any longer. A word that will come up many times throughout this essay is GMO. A GMO is short for “genetically modified organisms.” The way an organism can be genetically modified is by using sophisticated techniques of genetic engineering. These techniques can be applied to animals, fruits, and vegetables. These three categories are not the only things that can be genetically modified, but for the sake of this essay, focus will remain on those three. Now, why are GMOs important? Well, there are advantages and disadvantages in using GMOs. One advantage of having GMOs is that they make it easier to feed the world’s larger population of today. Another advantage is that food is cheaper because of GMOs. On the other hand, a disadvantage to GMOs is that the consequences of eating foods that are genetically engineered are unpredictable. Also, GMOs require large amounts of fungicides, herbicides, and pesticides. These are being given to the animal, fruit, or vegetable that goes into the consumer’s mouth. So what is given to the GMOs is eventually given to the consumer. As human beings, the population should be eating things that are more natural. As human beings, the population should know the benefits and disadvantages of eating foods that come from GMOs.
It is said that some scientists have theories that health risks arise from eating foods that has roots of a GMO. Well the question is, why? Why do GMO foods have more health risks than foods without GMOs? The answer is so simple yet so difficult to see. This is because large companies that produce GMO foods don’t want the consumer to see what is actually put into the food. It all starts in the roots of the ingredients. These ingredients can be, but are not limited to, corn, wheat, and livestock. In Jason McLure’s article, “Genetically Modified Food,” he proves that some animals and crops are being fed herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, etc. So, how does this affect humans? Well, there is the expression “you are what you eat.” This expression can be taken almost literally in relation to GMOs. In Shelley Stonebrook’s article “GMOs: The Controversy Builds,” she mentions a series of tests that are done on animals that are fed food from GMOs and non-GMOs. The first test she mentions is a test on rats. The study “showed an increased incidence of tumors in rats given GM feed” (Stonebrook 16). The other study that she wrote about was on pigs and GM feed. She writes that: for about 23 weeks, one group of pigs in the study was fed a diet of GM corn and GM soy, while another group of pigs ate the same diet with non-GM ingredients. The two groups were then compared post-mortem, and the gastric and uterine differences were stark. Female pigs in the GM-fed group had uteri that were, on average, 25 percent heavier than those of the non-GM-fed females. GM-fed pigs also had a higher rate of severe stomach inflammation: 32 percent of GM-fed pigs compared with 12 percent of non-GM-fed pigs. (Stonebrook 16) Now, if this is what is happening to the animals, what could it possibly be doing inside of human bodies? According to Stonebrook, it is common to find glyphosate in human bodies. Glyphosate is not something that should be found in a human body. This chemical is a synthetic compound that is a nonselective systemic herbicide. It is effective against perennial weeds and should not be found within a human body. Ingestion of this chemical ranging from 85 to 200 mL results in death.
Awareness of GMOs isn’t anywhere where it should be. This is because it is not required to have a label on food that clearly states that the food contains ingredients from a GMO. As a matter of fact, the food doesn’t have to have a label of any kind on it whatsoever. GM farms actually fight the conflict. They don’t want to label their food as GMO made. In the article “Genetically Modified Food,” by Jason McLure, he writes that, “GM farming giants and other referendum foes argue that the health and environmental concerns are unfounded, and that labeling effort is an attempt to demonize a technology with enormous potential benefits” (McLure 719). The reason that these concerns are unfounded is because they are easy to overlook. This is not an excuse because it still poses a threat to future consumers. Humans have a right to know that what they’re in their mouth may lead to health risks in the future. This can all be settled with a label on the food, but companies know that if they do this, sales will decrease because consumers will know that whatever has been put into the food has been genetically altered.
GMO foods are spreading around the world like wild fire. Also in McLure’s article, there is a graph showing how many permits there are in the U.S. to grow genetically modified crops. In 1992, the amount of permits that allowed GM crops was approximately 100. Looking at the more current side of the graph, approximately 700 permits were around in 2008. The graph shows signs of permit numbers going up and not down. If this is the trend for GM farm permits, where will food companies be in about 10 or 20 years? How long will it take until all of the foods in grocery stores are all based from GMOs? In Kathy Koch’s article “Food Safety Battle: Organic vs. Biotech,” she asks herself the same questions. Koch does see the disadvantages in GM foods, but also, she sees great opportunity. “As genetically altered foods begin to dominate the conventional food chain, a growing market is developing for verifiable non-GMO foods” (Koch 763). In her article, she gives a graph showing the sales of organic products in a span of seven years. In 1990, organic food sales were at about one million dollars. Seven years later in 1997, estimated sales were reported to be at about 4 million dollars. What this means is that people are becoming more aware of the disadvantages of GMOs. As a result, those people transfer to organic foods. The question is why can’t everyone just switch to organic foods and live a healthier lifestyle? The answer is that not everyone can afford to eat foods that aren’t genetically altered. The benefit of GMOs is that they make crops produce more and also make livestock fatter which give more when they are slaughtered. A result of GMOs is that they make food cheap because so much can be made from these genetically modified organisms.
On another note, GMOs have the potential to be advantageous if done correctly. In David Hosansky’s article “Biotech Foods,” he sees many benefits to the farming of GMOs. Hosansky refers to the biologist, Adrianne Massey, to open up the eyes of society. Massey “believes that altering the DNA of crops has allowed farmers to increase yields using fewer harmful pesticides while producing far more nutritious foods than those created through conventional hybridization” (Hosansky 251). Every GMO farm giant has certain ways to genetically engineer the food they produce. Hosansky is a strong believer that GMOs can be more beneficial than harmful to human beings. Also, biologist Massey says that she is “personally … in love with DNA and the elegance of that molecule” (251). Massey looks at GMOs in amazement in biology history. For others, the science of creating GMOs is breakthrough material.
In my opinion, GMOs are not good for humans. Yes, they are cheaper and faster to produce, but the consequences are much larger than the benefits. The fact that these toxic chemicals go into crops that eventually go into me is scary. Essentially we’re all eating food with chemicals such as glyphosate. Not only is it bad for our health, but it’s almost as if we have no control of the food we buy. If all food companies would label their food with GMO based, I would feel a lot more comfortable making a meal at home. I would be able to know if the food I’m eating has chemicals or not and truly feel comfortable knowing that the food was naturally made. The future of grocery stores is extremely obvious. We do not have much control over GMOs, therefore, within a foreseeable future, it is very likely that every item in the store has roots of a GMO. The little control we do have is going to legitimate all organic grocery stores. This alternative is not for everyone but we do have some control over what we put into our bodies. Hopefully light has been shined on points of view by reading about the advantages and disadvantages of GMOs.
Hosansky, David. "Biotech Foods." CQ Researcher 30 Mar. 2001: 249-72. Web. 4 Nov. 2013. Koch, Kathy. "Food Safety Battle: Organic Vs. Biotech." CQ Researcher (2008): 761-84. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
McLure, Jason. "Genetically Modified Food." CQ Researcher (2012): 717-40. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
Stonebrook, Shelley. “GMOs: The Controversy Builds.” Mother Earth News 260 (2013): 16. MAS Ultra – School Edition. Web. 8 October 2013.