In the United States, a large percentage of the food citizens eat contain genetically modified ingredients. Food manufacturers in the United States are not required to label genetically modified ingredients on food products. Therefore, many citizens are unaware of what their food contains. Genetically modified organisms are produced as a result of changes made to an organism’s DNA through genetic engineering (Non-GMO Project, 2019, para. 1). Scientists genetically modify crops to produce more desirable food, help businesses generate more revenue, and hopefully solve the potential problem surrounding the human population outgrowing food production. Despite these positive aspects, the effects of genetically modified food are worse than organic food because genetically modified food has been shown to harm the environment and negatively affect human health.
Most genetically modified crops are herbicide resistant. This allows farmers to spray toxic herbicides on crops with the hope of removing unwanted vegetation. Many of these herbicides contain the toxic chemical glyphosate. As stated in Garden Organic (2017), “Roundup, the commercial name for glyphosate-based herbicides, contains many other chemicals, which when mixed together are 1,000 times more toxic than glyphosate on it’s own” (para. 2). These chemicals are persistent in soil, create residues, and can be found in runoff water. This is ultimately catastrophic for surrounding ecosystems. In addition, glyphosate is carcinogenic to humans and causes the growth of herbicide-resistant weeds that can only be killed with even more toxic chemicals. This justifies that the effects of growing genetically modified foods are harmful to the environment. According to Mayo Clinic (2019), “Organic farming practices are designed to enhance soil and water quality, and reduce pollution […] organically grown produce has lower detectable levels of pesticide residue” (para. 4). This confirms that organic farming practices help the environment, as opposed to harming it.
Another effect of genetically modified farming practices is the contamination of non-genetically modified crops by genetically modified crops. As stated in Garden Organic (2017), “GM crops can- and do- cross pollinate with wild and non-GM plants. Other sources of contamination are the inadvertent spread of seed by farm machinery, as well as mixing seeds during storage” (para. 17). The contamination of non-genetically modified crops by genetically modified crops can affect a plant’s natural genetic makeup. New engineering techniques have even allowed plants with altered genes to rapidly spread throughout an entire population through a gene-drive system. While this may be a minor issue now, the long-term effects of the contamination of non-GM crops by GM crops are still unknown. Organic Farming practices are generally safer, healthier for the environment, and more effective when growing healthier food for humans to eat.
Furthermore, the effects of genetically modified food on humans is unstable and toxic. As stated in the Center for Food Safety (2019), “Genetic engineering allows foreign genes, bacterial and viral vectors, viral promoters, and antibiotic marker systems to be engineered into food” (para. 3). This is harmful to the human body. The traditional human diet consists of a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, and protein. Although the average human can survive without this balance, and occasionally make unhealthy food choices, humans have not yet evolved to withstand genetically engineered food. In addition, the instability of genetically modified food is a cause for concern. According to the Center for Food Safety (2019), “Each genetic insertion creates the added possibility that a formerly nontoxic element in food become toxic” (para. 4).
This is because the chemical compounds in food are being invaded by other substances, which cause toxicity in elements that were not toxic before. The Food and Drug Administration warns that the problem of genetic instability in genetically modified food could result in new toxicants as well as an increased level of naturally-occurring toxicants. According to Mayo Clinic (2019), “Studies have shown small to moderate increases in some nutrients in organic produce” (para. 3). This proves that organic farming is significantly better for human health. If the chemical compounds in food stay untouched, they will continue to provide the nutrients needed for humans to survive.
In addition, genetically modified organisms in food have been shown to cause certain types of cancer in humans. This is due to the instability and toxicity of genetically modified organisms in food. Genetically engineered recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) is used to increase milk production in cows (Center for Food Safety, 2019, para. 14). The insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in rBGH is able to survive digestion. This means that IGF-1 can make it’s way into the bloodstream and intestines if humans consume the milk. This is a cause for concern because IGF-1 has been known to cause many types of cancers, including colon cancer and breast cancer.
Furthermore, the effects of genetically modified organisms in food may be a possible cause of diabetes in humans. As stated in Garden Organic (2017), “A new potato has been genetically engineered not to show bruising […] a unwelcome side effect of this engineering has caused an increase in the potato’s aminoadipic acid content” (para. 9). This is a cause for concern because aminoadipic acid is a possible cause of diabetes. Organic food is essentially healthier for humans and more natural.
To conclude, organic food is better for the environment and a healthier option for humans compared to genetically modified food. Genetically modified crops contaminate other non-genetically modified crops and allow farmers to use more toxic herbicides. In addition, genetically modified organisms may be the possible cause of diabetes and cancer because they are unstable and toxic for humans. The long-term effects of genetically modified food is still unknown. Therefore, if humans continue to allow their main source of food to contain genetically modified ingredients, mankind is already in trouble.