Genetically Modified Organisms: Pros and Cons of GMO Food

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World production map of GMO. Photo by: pixeltoo

2005 world production map of GMOs. Solid orange represents countries that produce more than 95% of GMO products. Orange and gray stripes represent countries that produce commercialized GMO products. Orange dots represent countries participating in experimental GM crops. Image by pixeltoo

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) became a hot topic in 2012 when the people of California had the chance to vote on Proposition 37 in November.

Proposition 37 would have required labels on food that contained such products.

Let’s look at the facts about GMOs, whether they’re good or bad, so you can decide for yourself.

GMO Food: Benefits

So what are the benefits of GMOs? According to the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy, one of the pros of genetically modified crops is a better taste, increased nutrients, resistance to disease and pests, and faster output of crops.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations also says that farmers can grow more food on less land with genetically modified crops.

Genetically modified animals have certain genes inserted into their genomes so that they can produce ‘better’ milk, eggs, and meat. These animals also are expected to have a higher resistance to disease and overall better health, with better natural waste management. In theory, genetically modified crops and animals will also be more environmentally friendly because they conserve water, soil, and energy.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states that one of the positives of GMOs is that farmers can produce more nutritious food. Many foods are in the works for bio-fortification for this reason. Rice, for example, feeds 50 percent of the world’s population, so genetically modifying rice to have more vitamin A would reduce vitamin A deficiency in developing countries.

But what happens to these plants and animals that have been genetically modified? What happens when we eat these foods? Unfortunately, no one knows for sure what happens, though evidence is mounting that genetic modification may not be a good thing.

Genetically Modified Foods: Controversy

The Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy also lists some of the controversies associated with genetically modified foods. One of these controversies are the potential health risks, including allergies, antibiotic resistance, and unknown effects. Other negatives that stem from GMOs is that scientists are tampering with nature by mixing genes and no one knows what this is doing to the animals or the environment.

Phil Damery and colleagues at Iowa State University describe the risks of genetically modified foods to humans in their paper, “The Debate on Labeling Genetically Modified Foods.” Damery says that the agricultural food industry claims that GM foods are tested rigorously, but the food companies conduct all their own testing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration never reviews the studies, just the conclusions that agricultural food companies provide to the FDA. Damery states that, when studies were conducted by non-agricultural  food organizations, they found serious health risks with GM foods and the way they tested for safety.

Click to Read Page Two: The Negative Side Effects of GMOs

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© Copyright 2013 Janelle Vaesa, MPH, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Science

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Comments

  1. TotallyRandomName says:

    Oh, wow. You really squirmed around to make it look like the negatives are legit. That “1989 a genetically modified dietary supplement of tryptophan” was not a genetically modified dietary supplement at all, for example. It was created, like tons of other things, using GM bacteria (like the way we create insulin to save the lives of diabetics). The batches of tryptophan that killed people contained KNOWN TOXINS from the way they were made, but they were not properly tested. There was not some strange unknown created by GM here… it was known, discoverable toxins. But proper testing wasn’t done. You know, how SPINACH has killed people when it was tainted with known toxins like e-coli. Your attempt to pretend to be even handed by opening with a weak defense of the benefits of GM is more than shown to be a lie by the way you handled the tryptophan incident. Shame on you.

  2. Walk down the aisles of your local supermarket and you’ll find floor-to-ceiling shelves packed with food boasting nutritional benefits: whole grains in cereals, omega-3s in eggs, lycopene—that powerful antioxidant—in ketchup. But there are other ingredients hiding in these products, and most of us don’t even know they’re there. They’re called genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and they’re in 80% of the processed food on grocery store shelves—and a handful of whole foods as well, with perhaps more on the way soon.

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