In recent years genetically, modified organisms (GMOs) have taken over our lives and most of us have had no idea it was even happening. Some may ask, what are GMOs? Explained by the Institute of Responsible Technology “A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal” (IRT). We are beginning to understand GMOs and their effects on the human body and the environment.
Most of our diets have been replaced by genetically altered foods, which have had a negative effect on our health and local communities. However, there are also some benefits to genetically modified foods, which can cloud people’s minds to the harm that genetically modified foods can cause the human body, communities and environment when consumed.
Making genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is a complicated laboratory process in which “genes” from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans” (IRT). They are created by splicing genes of different species that are combined through genetic engineering, GMOs being a part of the foods we consume is a very scary thought. They were first introduced to our food supply in the mid- 1990s. They are banned in Europe but not the United States, in fact the FDA does not even require labeling of genetically modified foods. Therefore, millions of people do not even know they are consuming harmful foods.
David Johnson from TIME says that our grocery stores are full of genetically modified foods such as corn, potatoes, soy beans, papayas, squash, canola, apples, sugar beets and zucchini. If you’re trying to get fresh non-modified products going to the local farmers market is the best way to stay away from GMO foods. They are beginning to genetically modify animals such as salmon as well. The animals are not yet USDA approved for us to eat but can be used for gene splicing.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not completely bad. According to Janelle Vaesa from Decoded they have benefits as well, such as faster growing plants, tolerance against harsh weather conditions, drought resistance, pest resistance, water and soil conservation, and higher nutrition. While these benefits can be helpful that does not mean GMO’s are safe. The long- term research done on eating genetically modified foods is scarce because they have not been around very long. Most of the research has been done on animals and only some research has been done on humans, most of the research that has been done is quite frightening.
The research that has been done on animals shows “altered metabolism, inflammation, kidney and liver malfunction, and reduced fertility. In one experiment, multiple generations of hamsters were fed a diet of GM soy; by the third generation, they were losing the ability to produce offspring” (Mount) said by Rachel Mount in How Do Genetically Modified Foods Affect Your Health. The main affects that genetically modified foods have on humans are food allergies and birth defects.
According to the Organic Consumers Association, “The list of GM food products intersect with the eight most common food allergens: eggs, milk, fish, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and wheat.” The proteins in foods is what triggers allergic reactions in people. In a study done on genetically modified corn and mice there was a big decrease in off spring over time and weight of the litter itself. Infertility can sometimes be a side effect of eating genetically modified foods over a long period of time, although scientist have no hard proof on this affect.
Another side effect of GMO’s are gluten disorders. In 2013 the Institute for Responsible Technology released a report stating “Based on my clinical experience, when I remove genetically modified foods as part of the treatment for gluten sensitivity, recovery is faster and more complete. I believe that GMOs in our diet contribute to the rise in gluten sensitivity in the U.S. population” (Emily Linder). This is still being researched but the results that have been found so far are very compelling. The worst effect of consuming GMOs is cancer.
A report published in 2014 reported that rats that consumed a diet of genetically modified com were more likely to develop tumors and die. This is a very scary report to read. This is not proven to be 100 percent accurate but I’m sure with more studies being done it will be soon. A very confusing effect of GMOs is DNA transfer. GMOs are created using horizontal gene transfers as opposed to natural reproduction. The concern is that genetically modified DNA can transfer to humans and the enjoinment. Evidence of this dates back to the 1990’s shows that genetically modified DNA survives the digestive system and enter our blood stream. We are yet to discover the long-term effect of this are unknown, but they cannot be good.
Our bodies are not the only thing GMOs are affecting. Our local communities and the environment are suffering as well. Local farmers are being shut down due to the low cost of GM foods. Big chain grocery stores main interest is making money. To do that they must find the cheapest foods to sell. Since the FDA does not say you have to label GM foods, all the foods in our grocery store look fresh and healthy. When it comes to the environment toxicity is a huge issue because of chemical pesticides and herbicides, used commonly with GMOs. They are toxic to animals such as bees and butterflies. Bees are very important to the population of many food crops. Birds are also affected by GMOs and they serve a big role in our food crops as well.
Even in DNA changes to GM plants to make the resistant to pesticides their toxicity will remain. The more we GMO plants that we grow the more toxins released into the soil. The toxins that are released into the soil cause fewer bacteria in the soil. Bacteria, is very important to having healthy soil for plants to grow in without the use of chemicals to help them. The nutrients are not returned to the soil and it becomes very dry. The toxins then begin to run into our water sources and even the air we breathe. Farms that are close to GMO farms are beginning to notice that the toxins from GM plants are getting into their crops and ruining them. If we are not careful GMOs are going to completely take over our food.
Now what should think about all this information? GMOs have not been adequately tested on humans and this is just one of the many reasons why they should not be consumed. Taking a stand against GMOs needs to be a priority. If we want local farmers to keep growing their crops we need to stop buying brand names because we do not know who is using GMOs and who is not. We need to protect our food of the future before our only option is GMO foods and all the side effects we are discovering become a huge reality for everyone.