|These individuals are holding signs supporting|
GMOs. The one reads "I love Monsanto."
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are plants and animals that have had their genetic makeup altered. This is typically done by adding various genes, from bacteria, viruses, or other animals/plants. Consumers have very strong opinions about these products. Still, there is minimal evidence available,regarding the effects GMOs.
It is important to know whether these products are good or bad. By this I mean understanding how they impact the environment, wildlife and humans. However, much of the information found about GMOs tends to be opinionated or biased; it usually stems from personal feelings.
I did find one article that provides a “level-headed assessment of the evidence.” Furthermore, within this piece, there is information about the effects of genetic modifications on human health, the environment and economy. Yet, after reading all of the material, it is still difficult to make a firm decision of whether GMOs are completely good or bad.
Another article I read offered beneficial and unfavorable support from GMO studies. One risk of these crops is the potential of cross-pollination with non-GM plants. This is detrimental because some consumers (such as China or other large scale patrons) do not want certain genes within their products. Wheat farmers are especially worrisome of the possibility of cross-pollination because wheat is now (and since 2005) a non-genetically modified crop. If a wheat field becomes contaminated, there is a possibility for that farmer to lose profit.
On the other hand, the GM crops are beneficial due to their “biologically insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant” and nutritious characteristics.
Rice is an instance in which the valuable properties of GMOs can be
observed. Scientists at the International
Rice Institute say that their combination of rice, corn and bacteria is beneficial
because it contains a large amount of Vitamin A. This vitamin is essential for vision and has
been deficient in the past among many third world countries. Golden Rice is also considered advantageous
because it is composed mostly of rice, which is consumed by at least half of
the world’s population.
About eighty percent of the world is currently using genetically modified organisms. Many locations, such as Asia, Europe, the U.S., Honduras allow for food alterations. Honduras is the only country of Central America using GMOs, mostly due to the food crisis. The rest of the region continues to grow conventional crops. In the area near Uganda, only four countries allow the use of genetically modified crops: Egypt, Sudan, Burkina and South Africa. There are other countries that completely ban the changing of genes.
Overall, genetically modified organisms are either completely accepted or rejected. I personally prefer the non-GM products. This is because I believe that there are more cons than pros, such as the potential harmful effects within humans (allergens) and the environmental damage (the recent decline of milkweed and monarchs).
There is some good news. Even though, GMO labeling is not required in the United States, there is a way to avoid altered food: buying organic. According to the Organic Foods Production Act, certified organic foods are only allowed to be GMO-free.
One concern with determining GMO-free foods is confusing organic with natural foods. If you prefer food which has not been altered, then it is best to stick with organic options.