GMOs The Debate

Have you ever watched CBS Sunday Morning?  It is one of my favorite shows ever and continues to be a source ofUnknown information and inspiration for many of my musings on this blog.  This last Sunday, there was a piece on GMOs.  As a disclaimer, I am in favor of labeling but I also buy products with GMOs.  I’ve never fully understood why people are against them entirely but I understand that there are a lot of people are against companies like Monsanto controlling so much of the food industry.  Below is a quick rundown (with my opinions added in) of what the piece brought to light.

GMO – Genetically Modified Organism

Forms of Genetic Modification: grafting, cross breeding and hybridization (It’s been happening for thousands of years)  Most of the foods we eat have been genetically modified over time.

Are they safe?  Yes.

images-1Do we have the right to know if our food contains GMO ingredients?  I think so.  Do people who do not want to ingest GMOs have the right to not buy food with GMOs? Yes.

Take papayas in Hawaii that were devastated by ringspot.  A local scientist successfully injected DNA from the destructive papaya ring spot into a papaya seed (like a vaccine) and the subsequent papayas became immune to ring spot.  The papayas that now grow on that farm in Hawaii are GMO papayas.  So, are they safe?  Yes.

Many farmers in the US grow GMO crops, including apples, papayas, potatoes, cotton, zucchini squash, corn (have you ever tasted its ancient form?  It’s not like the sweet corn we eat today) and soy beans.  Many are engineered to ward off insects or resist weed killing herbicides, or both.  They can dramatically reduce the amount of insecticides used in their growth. There are also genetic modifications that make plants resistant to flooding and drought.

The most recent high profile food to have the label GMO: salmon.  They are engineered to grow faster.  On the horizon: a peanut without the deadly toxin to which many people are allergic.

There are some disturbing details that could very well get lost in all of this debate: the chronically hungry people in the 3rd world are benefitting from genetically modified rice in the form of yellow rice that is fortified with Vitamin A (which makes the rice yellow) and in the process, saves their lives.  I don’t think the starving people across the world care if their food is organic or gluten free or even fair trade.

There is nothing wrong with the general public being skeptical about a large corporation that says its products are not harmful to humans and the earth, water, and air. (DDT, Tobacco, NFL anyone?)  But what are the, if any, adverse health effects that GMO foods have?

There aren’t enough long term studies to determine what the negative effects are.  And right now, most scientists (88% according to a Pew Research Poll) feel they are safe.  However, 57% of American adults feel they are unsafe.  So, why are so many (mainly in obese rich countries) against GMOs?

I have some answers.  See the following posts listed below.

In the meantime, leave any questions in the comments below.

In addition to finding out why some people are against GMOs, I’m going to talk someone who works for Dow AgroSciences and get some information from her.  If you have any questions for her, please leave them in the comments below.

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