With the recent controversy over GMO labeling, the term, “GMO,” is being thrown around like a hot potato. If you’re just tuning in, it can be hard to catch up.
What exactly are GMOs? GMO stands for genetically modified organism, often created in labs through mutation and genetic engineering. GMOs are common in the agriculture industry to make plants more resistant and to create a greater yield. While this all seems fine and dandy written on paper, GMOs could quite possibly present a great threat to agriculture and our health due to its overbearing presence in wheat, cotton, rice, corn, and soy, four crops that can be found in almost everything we digest.
How? Let’s check it out…
GMOs – The Good
- Resistant to (some) disease and (some) pests
GMOs came into existence to decrease disease and pests in crops, a natural occurrence in agriculture. Although debatable, GMOs are said to save farmers time and money because of the decrease in pesticide use.
- Added vitamins & nutrients
Some GMO food offers additional nutrients than what it naturally offers. For example, “golden rice” offers vitamin A, a vitamin that many children in third world countries lacked.
- Food security
Although debatable (again), GMOs are said to produce a greater yield than a non-GMO crop. With our growing population, GMOs could potentially be the answer to the hunger crisis.
GMOs – The Bad
Probably the greatest negative of GMO crops is that they are unnatural. As stated above, GMOs are created in labs and when placed in the environment, can pose great risk to organisms and their ecosystem. While some claim that GMOs are resistant to disease and pests, others claim that GMOs in fact need more pesticide sprays because of the lack of the natural disease and pest deterrents crops generate for themselves.
- Insufficient amount of research
GMOs hit the market in 1996. Although 17 years may seem like a long time, we will not start to see the potential side effects for another generation. In addition, GMO testing is only conducted for 90 days, which scientists say is an insufficient amount of time to measure the potential danger.
The introduction of new and stronger plants creates a lack of biodiversity in agriculture through hybridization, super weeds, and super bugs. Natural plants are unable to survive when up against GMO crops and everything that comes with it.
“The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, referring to the scale of the loss as “extensive,” found that some 75 percent of plant genetic diversity has been lost since 1900 as farmers turn to genetically uniform, mass-produced crop varieties.”
- Corporate power
Monsanto is the head guy in charge when it comes to administering seeds and crops to farmers, most being GMOs. By supporting companies like Monsanto, we are giving them the power to control our food supply and dominate the agriculture industry.
- Skepticism from other countries
The US is the largest grower of GMOs. While we have the right to do as we see fit, it’s not easy to ignore the utter opposition of GMOs from the EU and the required GMO labeling in many countries, such as Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
The GMO debate is a biggie, and it’s hard to present all research, case studies, and opinions in this (tiny) blog post. While I’m no scientist or farmer, I am a true believer in transparency. The food industry is notorious for keeping secrets and it’s time we take back the power of what we eat and how we feed ourselves. Stand up for GMO labeling by buying organic or non-GMO products.
In recent news, many have been organizing Marches Against Monsanto, which has proved to be creating a stir on the government’s radar. While Proposition 37 was, for lack of a better word, a failure in California, Connecticut recently said it is on board for GMO labeling. But, of course, this comes with a catch. In order to jumpstart the process, four other states (one of which must be bordering CT) must agree to do the same.
It may take some time, but after decades of a standstill, we are making progress towards GMO labeling. To get more involved, check out Just Label It.