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Understanding GMOs

posted Jan 13, 2015, 11:01 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jan 13, 2015, 11:32 AM by Tamara Salisbury ]

Chances are unless you are very meticulous about what you eat, you are consuming a large portion of GMOs, unaware that you are doing so. GMO stands for genetically modified organism. GMOs come in many forms, in both livestock and produce, such as the chicken or corn you eat. Scientists genetically alter organisms so they will possess certain desirable traits, such as accelerated growth or immunity to manually applied pesticides. This careless tampering with nature has yielded drastic consequences.

Genetically modified crops come in two categories: pesticide producers and pesticide resistors. Pesticide producers are genetically altered to produce their own pesticide, eliminating the need for spraying or dusting crops with pesticides. Pesticide resistors are immune to manually applied pesticides, so they will not be affected by any chemicals used on them (information from “GMO OMG”, directed by Jeremy Seifert).

Scientifically speaking, crops that are genetically altered to produce their own pesticides can be classified as pesticides themselves. This means that the crop is no longer considered a grain; it is a pesticide. Chemical companies sponsor the production of these pesticides to boost the sales of their chemicals, trading the health of the public for personal wealth. While the crop can still be consumed, countries in Europe have banned the use of GMOs due to test results that show the long term health effects of GMOs to be harmful. Many countries have decided to make the right decision to be rid of GMOs for the good of the people inhabiting those countries. However, in the United States it is hard to avoid the consumption of GMOs. Of all the corn grown in the United States, about 90 percent is estimated to be genetically modified, and that is not taking into account all of the soybeans, wheat and sugar cane that are also genetically modified.

While this may be alarming, take comfort in knowing that there are alternatives to consuming GMOs. For instance, organic farmers grow produce that has not been genetically altered. Since awareness of GMOs is rising, many food companies have began to sell food free of GMOs. From a young age, you were probably told to read the labels on food containers. However, there are few states that require foods to have GMO labels, so unless the package says “organic” or “GMO free”, you can never be certain of what your food is made of. It is not only this generation that needs to learn the importance of GMOs, but also the next, and the next and the next, so that one day we may be able to eliminate health issues related to GMOs.