Did you know that the average American citizen consumes 1,996 pounds of food every year? Also that Americans eat more than their average weight in genetically modified food only over that 12 month period? Like many others in America that this GMO food that we are consuming or Genetically modified organisms is when a plant, animal, or microorganism’s genetic structure is changed, grown, then consumed. So, as any person would wonder how dangerous is this genetically modified food that we are eating every day?
GMO Food is typically made in laboratories through a process called genetic engineering. Which is when scientists alter the genes of an organism’s characteristics or phenotype in a particular way. This genetically modified food is made for a variety of reasons. The main one being to produce offspring with more desirable traits from two different plants. These traits being the size, shape, taste, color, increased yields, or disease resistance of a plant. For instance, a scientist would crossbreed a plant so it could stay ripe longer, or develop faster than the average plants.
It was in the beginning of the 1970’s when scientists discovered how to exchange genes for antibiotic resistance from one bacteria to another. This discovery leads to the making of GMO food. After scientists found out that genes could be manipulated not only in bacteria but in plants, and animals too they decided to experiment more. The first genetically modified food was called Flavr-Savr tomatoes which were made in the 1990’s by the company Calgene Inc. These tomato’s genes were manipulated so that they could be picked riper and last longer. Then farmers discovered that these tomatoes reduced the costs of producing regular tomatoes, and decreased the amounts of damaged crops they decided to start using more GMO products.
What happened next was that farmers and manufacturers wanted to make their crops like those tomatoes where they could produce more and sell them longer. So this eventually leads to GMO foods and products everywhere, mainly in the place where you get your food most often, the grocery stores. Also, you can find foods like squash, canola oil, sugar, zucchini, and papaya with genetically modified genes within them. A few of the approved GM foods sold in the United States that are produced for herbicide resistance is flax, beets, rice, and alfalfa. Others that are changed for something like virus resistance are papaya, squash, and plums. One of the main foods that are genetically modified is corn, which is typically altered to stop insects from destroying the crop and to produce more to be sold. It is known since 2014 that 93 percent of corn grown in the U.S. has GMO products within them. Another example of one of the main GMO products is soybeans, and they are modified to resist a herbicide called Roundup so farmers could use more to kill weeds.
With GMO food there are as many advantages as there are disadvantages from the products. One of the advantages is that farmers higher crop counts so less of the crops will be eaten up by insects or damaged by flooding. Another is the reduced farm costs and increased farming profit where the farmers are taking less from their pockets while bringing more into the bank. Along with this, some genetically modified food can be more nutritious when manipulated such as golden rice. Also one of the great advantages is that this genetically modified food can be planted in less fortunate areas around the world where they cannot farm as much and make more food for them.
Food products that are genetically modified can also cause many health effects, adding to the list of disadvantages. One of the few health effects that have been proven to have come from genetically modified food is weight gain. More health effects are organ disruption and different types of cancer from the hormones and antigens inside the plants. Another health risk is insecticide exposure which is coming from the plants we eat, and this has already been detected in people’s’ blood including pregnant women and babies. GM Food can bring gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility to everyone who consumes it.
Genetically modified food has even more reasons why you should avoid them. Like how GMO food can contaminate places everywhere around the world. It has been a struggle with some farmers trying to keep their own crops pure when the seeds of GMOs are moving around everywhere by the wind, and animals carrying them so farmers are distributing without even planting. A reason why some people try to also avoid these products is that GMOs increase herbicide uses. Since these plants are changed to survive the average amounts of Roundup, a weed killer, the farmers are allowed to spray more while keeping the crops from dying. Dangerous side effects known and unknown come with this food like toxins and allergens that could really harm the body. Others have been angered because of GM foods harming the environment where they are being planted and around it. Like the herbicides can harm the birds, soil, pollute the water sources, and marine ecosystems.
A problem that comes with GMO is people’s perception of the topic. Like when people generally think of genetically modified food they think of the vegetables that scientists first started with. Without thinking of the many animals that have been genetically changed that we consume every day. Examples being cows, pigs, geese, elk, deer, raccoons, squirrels, chicken, and even buffalo. Just with animals genes being changed it produces several health hazards for them as well as us humans. Like the severe birth defects of the offspring in the animals, once butchered and sold the general public doesn’t know what the animals look like before they eat them. One major issue is the milk from the GMO cows along with the meat that has been tainted but still served to the public.
Basically, everyone in the world has or is going to try a GMO food product in their lifetime. Many countries produce these products alongside the U.S. like Brazil, Argentina, Canada, India, China, Africa, Australia, the Philippines, Spain, and even Mexico. While dozens ban their farmers from growing GMO products. Even though they don’t allow humans to consume it they allow their animals. Which is still giving the effects from the food to humans since they eat the meat.
When people buy and eat foods from the grocery store that they think are honestly healthy they too are picking up items that are genetically modified. For instance going into the store to get ingredients for a healthy salad you would usually get lettuce, tomatoes, dressing, cheese, and carrots. For someone who doesn’t know the risks and dangers, they wouldn’t think that the salad would be harmful. Meanwhile, the lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes have been given genes from other plants to stay ripe and crunchy. The dressing could be made with canola oil which is engineered for herbicide resistance and could still have hints of the huge amounts of roundup that was spayed upon it. While the cheese could be made from milk in which the genetically engineered cows have produced. Giving a deadly combination and damaging the body from something that should be completely healthy.
In conclusion, Genetically Modified food is more dangerous to our society then it is good. It produced more food for the ever-growing population of the world but subjects health risks to them at the same time. So Americans along with everyone else who eats GMO products should know the advantages and disadvantages that come with it and decide what they are going to eat then. It is a nationwide debate on exactly how dangerous these foods are to human, and as of now no one ones just how much.