Written by: Kanya Shah
Have you heard of GMOs? They are genetically modified organisms whose genes have been artificially changed to modify their characteristics so that a specific crop can be made. The organism’s DNA is extracted from a cell and a chosen gene is manipulated. After this, the DNA is re-inserted into the same crop or another that is in need of better qualities that would increase crop yields.
What are the benefits of GMOs? Crop production for farmers increases because the modified plants are designed to be immune to pesticides. These plants produce more for less ultimately saving land and money. There is less of a need to spray pesticides because some of the plants contain poison within them that is lethal to insects but harmless to humans. An example is the recently modified corn plant which eventually kills the insect after it takes a bite of the plant. Not only are these plants created to be resistant to infestations, they also survive droughts. Additionally, the flavors of foods such as spice and sweetness can be enhanced and better nutrients can be added into the engineered foods.
What are the disadvantages of GMOs? For starters, the environment can be negatively impacted because the resistance to herbicides of the modified plants make it more difficult for unwanted plants such as weeds to be removed from land. For example, crossbreeding of GMO plants resulted in the interaction with non GMO weeds resulting in unintended altered weeds that were harder to control. Although GMO crops are convenient in some aspects, the engineered plants require the maintenance that organic plants need so they do not provide any economic benefits. An even more alarming result of GMO’s is that the probability of allergies among the general population has increased in regions that use GMO’s in some cases. If someone develops an allergy to soy and they eat livestock meat that had previously consumed a GMO plant that contained soy, then that person will be more susceptible to health risks.
Did you know that the US and Canada governments do not require the labeling of foods containing GMOs whereas forty other countries mandate the labeling of these engineered goods due to health reactions to consumption of GMOs? However, the USDA has illegalized the use of GMOs in Organic and Non GMO project based products.
Ultimately, GMOs have not formally been proven “safe.” The field of genetic engineering contains several unknown factors that scientists do not have a sufficient amount of knowledge about but are working on gathering information.
So, do you think that GMOs have a future in our world or are the risks too high to gamble with until we discover more?
Broadcast Journalism students talk about trending topics.