Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have taken the agricultural industry by storm and have proved to be an ongoing topic of debate. Although the science is comparatively new, genetic engineering has made quantum leaps by trying to increase growth efficiency and improve sustainability in agriculture. The underlying purpose of GMOs is to withstand conditions typically detrimental to a plant. By doing so, farming companies are able to grow products year round while ensuring a uniform harvest.
With this being said, what seems to be the problem? According to the “No GMO Project,” nearly 60 countries have either completely banned the use of GMOs or hold tight restrictions of their use. Two major problems arise when discussing GMOs: health detriments and environmental/ethical issues. The Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) affirmed that health problems have skyrocketed since the introduction of GMOs in 1996.
“The percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just nine years,” IRT stated.
GMOs are engineered to tolerate herbicide toxins that famers use to kill weeds. According to IRT, in the 12-year span from 1996 to 2008, farmers used an additional 383 million pounds of herbicide on GMOs. The GMOs were not killed by this excessive use of chemicals, however the residue from the herbicides have been traced to hormone disruption, autism, birth defects, cancer and genetic disorder.
Beyond humans, GMOs hurt the environment by reducing bio-diversity, which go against the laws of natural selection and resources for the ecosystem.
For those of you who want to stay clear of GMOs, it may be harder then it appears. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require companies to label GMOs nor require safety studies. Why? Because the government turns a blind eye towards the topic by claiming GMOs and naturally grown foods are the same. The ethical limitations of GMOs are completely negated by a political ideology with the hope that increased production results in increased profit.
In general, it is easy to understand the advantageous aspects of GMOs; they increase efficiency, tolerance and make the lives of farmers easier. Yet, it is in our best interest to limit our GMO intake and rely more heavily on naturally produced foods.