By: Meghan McClelland
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have been seen in a negative light for several years. GMOs have been around for over two decades, coming into wider use in the late 1990s. Since their introduction, “the percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just 9 years; food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others are on the rise.”
GMOs can cause the human body to develop resistance to antibiotics, they can cause cancer, and they can cause food allergies. We have been using GMO’s heavily within our food system for two decades now and we can see a correlation between the increased GMO use and the issues described above. More research is needed, but again, the impact of GMOs on the body is a relatively new phenomenon. Correlation does not necessary mean causation, but the problems with GMOs go far beyond harm to the human body.
There is a growing field of research on how GMOs effect the environment in relation to growing usage of herbicides and pesticides by farmers. Weeds in the fields become resistant to pesticides and herbicides, possibly because they over-use herbicides knowing their herbicide-resistant GMO crops can handle it. It’s the same case for the use of pesticides. Bugs find a way to adapt to the pesticides and they grow stronger because they become used to them. This cycle continues and the GMO presence in foods fuels increased use of these dangerous chemicals.
The GMO advancements in food have resulted in a reduction of crop varieties – Corn and Bananas are two great examples of this. Cross-pollination of GMO crops has, in part, fueled declining variety. The flip side to increased crop yields is the decline of soil quality and overall environmental degradation.
Natural, non-GMO foods just taste better. Research conducted on GMO and non-GMO foods has shown that non-GMO foods were preferred by consumers over the GMO option. Beyond taste, there’s a question of our food being the best source of nutritional value it can be. GMO foods have made it cheaper and easier to produce processed foods. These processed foods, heavily reliant on GMO corn and soybeans, have fueled the obesity epidemic. The GMO technology has reduced the price of less healthy and nutritional food, adding to an already bad situation.
Even if GMO foods are, in and of themselves, relatively safe for human consumption, the herbicides and pesticides used to grow them are detrimental to human health. In all the research, industry scientists have come down on the side of GMOs, as is to be expected. Independent scientists have been much more likely to reach conclusions in their work that highlights the problems and dangers with GMO foods. GMO foods exist in the world, and their role in aggravating a number of negative trends can not be ignored.