Labeling GMOs & GMFs

by Vanessa Blas

What is a GMO?

A GMO, better known as Genetically Modified Organism, is an organism's genes that has been altered or changed in a laboratory in order to acquire a desired characteristic and enhance its function or capability. GMFs are Genetically Modified Foods, a genetically modified organism (usually plants) you eat for food. An organism's gene is altered by extracting the genes of a usually unrelated organism and inserting it into the genetically modified organism.


GMOs/GMFs are used in most of the the foods we eat today. For example, producers insert the genes of a fish in tomatoes so the plant won't freeze and can withstand harsh, cold conditions. Most of us aren't even aware if the foods we consume are genetically modified. Yet is it necessary to label GMOs, or are we better off not knowing?

GMOs/GMFs: Risks and Benefits

The idea of GMOs/GMFs sound amazing: improving the organism or food just by changing its genes. But are Genetically Modified Organisms too good to be true?


Risks:


  • Despite farmers constantly using them, the long-term side effects of eating GMFs are unknown. These unpredictable risks can prove dangerous to the consumer.
  • Not only are GMOs dangerous to the consumer but they could also harm the environment. Genetically modified wheat can spread their pollen to other nearby crops. If these nearby and natural crops now contain this pollen, this will alter their genes and therefore upset the food web and agricultural system. This is known as cross-pollination. An example of this has been shown from many varieties of corn found in Mexico.
  • GMOs could also be toxic to its environment. GMOs that contain pesticides can pollute that substance into nearby bodies of water, such as streams. If that stream is contaminated with toxins, then aquatic life residing there could be harmed.
  • GMOs can contain pesticides that can damage or even kill insects that are actually beneficial to the environment.
  • GMFs have been harmful to its consumers, as they end up getting severe responses or allergic reactions from. Humans from Madhya Bagdesh have reported getting skin and eye allergies after using Bt cotton, a crop genetically modified so it can kill certain pests. Cows and sheeps in India have also died from eating this same crop.


Benefits:


  • GMFs have an equal or even better quality of taste than a natural, organic crop.
  • The USDA has reported that GM crops like potatoes have been altered in order to be resistant to disease, allowing the consumer and crop to be safe.
  • GMFs have characteristics that improve a person's health. For example, some GMOs have more amounts of Vitamin A, and people from Third World Countries who eat them obtain these nutrients that they lack.
  • Genetically Modified Foods have been beneficial to farmers, as there has been an increase in food production, and thus an economic increase in their profit.

Opinion

In my opinion, I believe GMOs/GMFs are dangerous and should require labeling. Not only are we clueless to the long-term effects of eating genetically modified foods, but we can experience harmful reactions like skin allergies from consuming them. Organisms that have been genetically altered can contaminate its nearby environment and overall affect the Earth's cycle. GMFs have already hurt and killed innocent animals such as cows or beneficial insects who don't even know what a GMO is. We deserve the right to know what we eat and what goes inside our body, and therefore our country should label foods that have been genetically modified.

Works Cited

“Dangers of GMOs to the Environment.” Institute for Responsible Technology. Ed. Jeffrey Smith. Institute for Responsible Technology, n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2015. <http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-dangers/dangers-to-the-environment>.

“GMO Education.” Institute for Responsible Technology. Ed. Jeffrey Smith. Institute for Responsible Technology, n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2015. <http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-education>.

Swenson, Kristie. “GMO Foods.” Common Ground. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2015. <http://findourcommonground.com/food-facts/gmo-foods/>.

“What is a GMO?” Seed Freedom. Seed Freedom, 5 June 2012. Web. 9 Mar. 2015. <http://seedfreedom.info/what-is-a-gmo/>.