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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Positive Effects of GMOs

A GMO is a genetically modified organism, whether it be a plant, animal, microorganism or any other organism whose genetics have been modified using recombinant DNA methods. This is also called gene splicing, gene modification or transgenic technology. This modification creates unstable combinations of plants, animals, and viral genes that do not occur in traditional crossbreeding methods. (nongmoproject)

GMOs were first introduced into the commercial American supermarkets in 1996. Since then, almost all of the processed food sold in the stores are GMO. These genetically modified crops produce more yield at a lesser cost, thus allowing for the farmers to save money on pesticides. This also helps with the environment, as harsh chemicals such as the weed killer, Roundup, aren’t being soaked into the soil. Some of these modified crops have their own pesticide or insecticide that have been spliced into them as well.

With all of these genetic modifications to our food, it begs the questions: how safe are these GMOs and are there risks to consuming them? A recent study done by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, affirm that GMOs are, in fact, safe. In their research that spanned two years, over 900 studies and publications were examined by a team of 20+ scientists, researchers, agricultural and industry experts. These studies were of animals, allergy testing, North American and European health data and more. Based on the 20+ years of ata since GMOs were initially introduced, these researchers and scientists have deemed them safe. They found no substantial evidence of a difference in risks to human health between current commercially available genetically engineered crops and conventionally bred crops. (Forbes 2016)

If GMOs are viewed as safe for human consumption, why is here such a concern about food allergies increasing? “There is concern that GM foods pose an allergy risk. Currently the list of GM food products intersect with the eight most common food allergens: eggs, milk, fish, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and wheat.” (geneticliteractyproject 2017) While that may be true, these crops also go through vigorous testing to make sure that they are completely safe. The same researches from the aforementioned study also proved that there was “no connection between these foods and an increase in allergies.” (allianceforscience 2016) So basically, GMO food and organic foods are essentially the same in nutritional value. The only difference is the price that is paid for the organic foods.

However, the United States currently does not have a law in place that requires a label on the genetically modified food. Approximately 70-80% of all of the processed food in the United States has at least one by product of a genetically modified plant, the most common being soy. “There are initiatives afoot to require food manufacturers to provide clear labeling on processed food products that contain genetically modified ingredients. This would make it easier for people with allergies to avoid foods that might pose a danger to them, and it would allow those who oppose genetically modified foods to opt out of buying them.” (learn.genetics.utah 2013)

Recently, the FDA approved bruise-free potatoes as well as apples that don’t brown, to be sold commercially. These go along with canola, cotton, alfalfa, summer squash, corn, papaya and sugar beets. Let’s look at each one of these crops in detail.

Corn: This is the largest crop in the United States and is used in high fructose corn syrup and corn starch, but is mainly used as food for livestock. Currently there are 33 genetically modified varieties.

Soybeans: This is the second largest crop and is used to feed livestock as well. Soybean oil accounts for 61% of American’s vegetable oil. Soy lecithin is used in a lot of processed foods as well as dark chocolate bars and candy. There are currently 20 genetically modified varieties.

Cotton: Most of this crop is turned to oil, which is then used in processed foods like potato chips and even margarine. There are 16 genetically modified varieties.

Potatoes: As mentioned earlier, there is a crop that is resistant to bruising and may have less of a cancer causing chemical called acrylamide when exposed to high heat. There are currently 6 genetically modified varieties.

Papaya: These crops are grown in Hawaii and are bred to withstand a virus that kills papaya plants. Currently, there are 2 genetically modified varieties.

Squash: Yellow summer squash and zucchini currently have 2 genetically modified varieties.

Canola: This is used to make oil for cooking and margarine. About 90% of the genetically grown crops are grown in the United States and Canada. There are 2 genetically modified varieties.

Alfalfa: This crop was accepted by the FDA in 2011. These crops have a gene that makes them resistant to herbicide. This alfalfa is mainly used for hay to feed cattle. Currently, there are 2 genetically modified varieties.

Apples: This apple does not brown when sliced and has been deemed safe to eat by the FDA. They haven’t appeared on the supermarket shelves as of yet, but because they have been approved, we may see them shortly. There is only 1 genetically modified variety.

Sugar Beets: More than half of the granulated sugar in the United States is made by genetically modified sugar beets. There is only 1 genetically modified variety. (Time 2015)

“Milk: To increase the quantity of milk produced, cows are often given rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) which is also banned in the European Union, as well as Japan, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.” (huffintonpost 2013)

There are many others that didn’t make it to the list that would include fruits like seedless watermelon and seedless grapes. These modified crops generally have a longer shelf life and have a more flavorful taste.

There will always be concerns of people as to the safety and health risks of GMOs. Labels on these foods would make it easier for those people to avoid eating them all together. Ever since they have been on the market, GMOs have sparked a debate. However, the Food and Drug Administration as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture have deemed these foods safe.

With the advancement of GMOs, I feel that it would help with the world hunger issue. If crops are modified to be able to grow in barren environments or in very rainy conditions this would help a lot of people. If there was more of the crop per year, they would¬† be able to be preserved for longer periods of time. I feel the GMOs are a great scientific advancement in the fact that kids that aren’t getting enough to eat could have rice that has the fortified vitamins that they need for health. There could be more vitamins and nutrients in one piece of fruit, rather than having to buy multiple fruits to get the same amount. I am excited to see what the future holds for these genetically modified crops.

Works Cited

Answers, GMO. “Yes, GMOs Are Safe (Another Major Study Confirms).” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 26 May 2016. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

BuiltLean. “7 Most Common Genetically Modified Foods.” The Huffington Post., 03 Dec. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

“Do GMOs cause allergies? No, but being an anti-GMO parent just might contribute.” Genetic Literacy Project. N.p., 07 Apr. 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

Genetically Modified Foods. Genetic Science Learning Center, 15 July 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

“Genetically Modified Foods: What Is Grown and Eaten in the U.S.” Time. Time, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

“GMO Facts.” Non-GMO Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

Hlw55. “GMO safety debate is over.” Cornell Alliance for Science. N.p., 24 May 2016. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.


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