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Say No To GMOs

Kaitlyn Zamago, Business Manager

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GMOs have been widely debated ever since their introduction in 1996. For over 22 years, concerns have been raised about the safety of these genetically modified foods, crops, and seeds. Two major questions are: should we continue to have them in our food supply, and should products that contain GMOs be labeled?

 

What are GMOs?

GMOs (short for genetically modified organisms) are living organism whose genetic material has been altered with genetic engineering. These organisms are altered in a way that does not happen naturally. This changes their characteristics in a significant way. Some examples of ways their characteristics are changing are the developing of new traits, the resistance of browning in apples, and using synthetic biology to create new organisms.

While this seems like a good thing, many are worried about the consequences that come along with them. Many are unsure about the health risks that they impose and how it will affect them in the future.

 

Who produces these GMO foods?

Currently, the top 6 major pesticide and GMO corporations are Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont, Bayer, BASF, and Dow Chemical Company. These 6 corporations dominate the agricultural input market. The U.S ranks the highest out of the countries with the most genetically modified crop production with a total of  72.9 million hectares. Brazil comes in second with 49.1 million, and Argentina in third place with 23.8 million.

 

GMO Testing

Many proponents of genetically modified foods say that there is no evidence that shows we have anything to worry about. However, there have been studies on rats being fed engineered foods and dying prematurely. When research studies are industry-funded, it most times affects the result. The longest industry-funded animal feeding study was only 90 days long. This study was far too short to collect accurate results. However, in the world’s first independently funded lifetime feeding study, there were major health issues that occurred after the 13th month. Some of these issues included cancer and organ damage. This is one of the very few studies considering the fact that these major corporations such as Monsanto and Syngenta hardly every allows independent researchers to use their patented seeds.

 

The Science Behind It All

70 years ago, the “one gene, one protein” hypothesis was created that states that each gene codes for a single protein. This was disproved by the Human Genome project in 2002. They failed to identify one gene for every protein in the human body. Their research showed that a gene can give more than one protein. This hypothesis is what a lot of genetic engineering is based on. Many think that you can create a specific effect by adding or taking out one or more genes. However, it is not that easy. In simpler terms, Dr. Philip Bereano calls this incorrect theory, “the Lego model”. He says that you cannot take out a yellow piece from one structure, put a green piece in its place, and call the structures identical. There are far too many complex interactions that are going to take place and be changed.

This concept applies to the way these corporations use the rules of vertical gene transfer on horizontal gene transfer to create these organisms. Vertical gene transfer is transmitting genes from parent to offspring via sexual or asexual reproduction, in other words, breeding a male and a female from the same species. Horizontal gene transfer is inserting the gene from one species into a completely different species. Some think that you can use the rules of vertical gene transfer in horizontal gene transfer and that could not be further from the truth. Doing so could result in unexpected and unpredictable results. Dr. David Suzuki says that this is a very flawed assumption and “just lousy science”. It is dangerous to assume that the traits of a gene will be expressed properly no matter where they are inserted.

 

Can GMOs solve world hunger?

While the global acreage in genetically engineered foods grew nearly 25 fold in 3 years after 1996 and now has 100 million acres planted, there are still no signs of world hunger depleting. In fact, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization states “We… strongly object that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly, nor economically beneficial to us. We do not believe that such companies or gene technologies will help our farmers to produce the food that is needed… On the contrary… it will undermine our capacity to feed ourselves.” These big corporations say that GMOs are necessary for the world’s food supply in order to keep up with the population’s growth, but it has yet to help solve the problem and those in countries with lower food supplies say that it has done nothing to help.

 

Should these GM foods be labeled?

It is argued that labeling foods with GMOs will cost more money, however, this is not true. In the world, 64 countries have required that GMO foods be labeled and the cost that the consumers pay for the food has not risen. It will actually cost more money to not label these products. These big GMO corporations will spend as much as 25 million dollars to prevent the labeling of GMOs. While they say that they are safe to consume and we have nothing to worry about, they refuse to label them. This raises the question of if they were really as great as these companies say they are, then why don’t they promote them and put stickers on all their products saying that they are using this high-tech GMOs in most of the foods you eat? 

Consumers should have the right to be informed and choose what they want to put into their bodies. Around 92% of Americans favor mandatory labeling of GMO foods and 85% favor the labeling of food from animals that were fed antibiotics or hormones. We should all have the information to make food purchases for our personal, moral, cultural, economic, religious, and health reasons.

 

It is obvious that there are many risks involved in the consumption of GMOs. It has not been very long since they were first introduced into our food supply. It is hard to know what the long-term effects are especially with the very limited information we have. A common argument is “No one has gotten sick after eating one meal, let alone a trillion meals.” The same thing was said with cigarettes. No one thought much of them before and even doctors recommended them. However, over time they added up and it started the wave of epidemics of cancer. It is now not just about a few cigarettes, it is about our whole diet. It is important that we all make informed decisions about what food products we spend our money on and what we put into our bodies.

If you want to start making a change in the spread of GM foods, start with your wallets. Buying more foods that do not use GMOs will result in these big companies no longer having as much power. Remember to always be informed before you make a decision that could affect your long-term health.

 

Sources

“What Are GMOs? #GMOFAQ.” GMO FAQ, gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org/FAQ/what-are-gmos/.

“GMO Facts.” Non-GMO Project, www.nongmoproject.org/gmo-facts/.

“‘Big 6’ Pesticide and GMO Corporations.” “Big 6” Pesticide and GMO Corporations – SourceWatch, www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/%22Big_6%22_Pesticide_and_GMO_Corporations.Robbins, John. “Are Genetically Altered Foods The Answer to World Hunger?” Earth Island Institute, www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/eij/article/are_genetically_altered_foods_the_answer_to_world_hunger/.

Bartolotto, Carole. “Why Genetically Modified Foods Should Be Labeled.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 4 Oct. 2013, www.huffingtonpost.com/carole-bartolotto/why-genetically-modified-food_b_4039114.html.

“Even If GMOs Are Safe, Mandatory Labeling Is a Good Idea.” Food Safety News, 24 Mar. 2016, www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/03/124802/.

Mercola, Joseph. “Genetically Modified Foods Are Not Safe to Eat.” Genetically Modified Food, edited by Tamara Thompson, Greenhaven Press, 2015. At Issue. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010259243/OVIC?u=puya65247&xid=b7676ef1. Accessed 13 Feb. 2018. Originally published as “Former Pro-GMO Scientist Speaks Out on the Real Dangers of Genetically Modified Food,” http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/05/28/gmo-dangers.aspx, 28 May 2013.

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About the Writer
Kaitlyn Zamago, Social Media Manager

My name is Kaitlyn Zamago and I am a freshman at Northwest Career and Technical Academy. This year I have decided to join The Hawk’s Eye and Filmmakers Society because they both really interest me. I am in Media Communications so we always focus on our creativity and writing skills. These two clubs also have a big focus on those things, so I chose them to build my skills in writing. I’d like to use my journalism experience so I can have a career in media. In my future, I want to either become a news journalist or be in the movie industry writing scripts, producing, or directing films. I feel it’s really important to be involved and write for the news because it gives you great opportunities to learn about the world around you and connect with others. Journalism allows you to explore new things that are going on and write about them to a bigger audience. It is important because it helps you and the audience become aware of what’s going on.

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Say No To GMOs