Genetically Modified Foods
Today we face a big debate on whether or not genetically modified foods are safe to eat. I’d like to believe genetically altered foods were for the greater good and provided an easier, cheaper way to produce healthier food, and while it does produce easier, cheaper food, that food is a concern to our health. What exactly is it that they are putting in our food to harm us? Why isn’t the FDA protecting us from these harmful chemicals and changes in our food? Is it really such a big deal? Really, it depends on who you are and if you care to take notice to the chemically altered and processed foods entering your diet. Plenty on this controversial topic is still to be further studied into, but enough has been found to make me lean towards the fact genetically modified foods aren’t safe to eat and they could lead to many health issues we see present today.
The most basic definition of GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other even other plants and animals—already doesn’t sound too appealing. What’s even scarier is essentially all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand the many herbicides farmers use and even produce its own insecticide. While that sounds great, we’re also putting those same chemicals into our bodies. Doesn’t that seem just a bit startling? Ingesting the same chemical that kills off insects and other such pests.
Another frightening study was made on rats exposed to genetically modified corn and Roundup herbicide. A French study—the most comprehensive GMO safety assessment ever conducted—was done involving 200 rats and spanned over 2 years, which was the life expectancy of the rats used in testing. They separated all of the rats into 10 groups: Three groups having their regular diet replaced with varying levels of Roundup-Ready corn that was treated with Roundup in the field; three different groups received the same diet but with untreated Roundup-Ready corn; the last three groups didn’t eat any genetically modified corn, but their drinking water had small amounts of Roundup herbicide; and the last group, the control group, ate two-thirds of standard rat-chow and one-third non-GM corn. The results were horrifying. Researchers say the results showed “severe adverse health effects, including mammary tumors and kidney and liver damage, leading to premature death” from the Roundup-Ready corn and Roundup herbicide. Almost all of the ill effects had manifested by 90 days. In each group, there were 10 males and 10 females; by the end of the study, results showed the males to have liver congestion and necrosis from 2.5 up to 5.5 times higher than the control group, and many of the females had developed large tumors. Overall 50 to 80 percent of the rats receiving GM corn and/or roundup had died prematurely compared to the 30 and 20 percent in the control group. Fact is, GMOs are scary.
Now we come to the question: Why isn’t the FDA protecting us against these harmful chemicals and substances? Ignorance. Again and again the FDA has declared that genetically engineered foods are in fact safe to the public—even in the face of disagreement from its own experts. Agency scientists have cautioned these genetically modified and chemically filled foods are risky to our health. The FDA did admit to operating under a directive “to foster” the US biotech industry and that directive advocates the premise that bioengineered foods are essentially the same as others (Druker). The scientists at work resisted this conform repeatedly warning that genetic engineering does differ from conventional practices. Another hot topic has come up, again involving the FDA and this time GMO Labels. The FDA has made the decision not to require Labeling of genetically engineered foods. This doesn’t put the many pleading families, farmers, consumer groups and green organizations at any more ease. If a company does wish to label its product as “GE-Free”, they have to go through the extensive and expensive process of having their product tested, certifying it, and then finally labeling it. If GMOs are supposedly “safe” and “harmless”, why should it matter whether a company wants to label their product or not? Just another thought to ponder over.
Finally we come to the part where we have to make our own decision. Is GMO safe? There’s not much running from it now either way, just about every food we consume has been genetically altered or processed in some sense. It’s just up to us as the consumer to decide whether or not we’re going to try to stray from the chemically-infused foods and find other resources, or are we going to just take what we are given and try not to worry so much rather or not our food will eventually kill us.
Druker, Steven. “FDA Documents Show It Ignored GMO Safety Warnings from Its Own
Scientists.” Synthesis/Regeneration Winter 2000: 31. Academic OneFile. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.
Genetically Modified Crops: Hope vs. Hype. Films On Demand. Films Media Group, 1999.
Web. 16 Nov. 2014.<http://digital.films.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?aid=740&xtid=11206>.
Philpott, Tom. “Longest-running GMO study finds tumors in rats.” Mother Earth News Apr.
May 2013: 13. Academic OneFile. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.
“So What Exactly is a GMO?” UWIRE Text 5 Dec. 2013: 1. Academic OneFile. Web. 17 Nov.