GMO’s! What can we say about it? Genetically modified foods doesn’t have that great of a ring to it if you ask me. How people feel about it differ according to individual preference of course, but what exactly are GMO’s? How do we label them?
Let’s talk about what GMO foods actually are. They are genetically engineered foods that have had foreign genes (genes from other plants or animals) inserted into their genetic codes. Basically, it’s not just something that we plant into the ground and happen to spring up with something fresh and unaltered. Genetic engineering allows scientists to speed the process of farming by moving desired genes from one plant to another, or even from an animal to a plant or vice versa. If we want to get really technical, the use of b.t. (Baccilus thuringiensis) genes are used in corn and other crops. It is a naturally occurring bacterium that produces crystal proteins that are lethal to insect larvae. B.t. crystal protein genes have been transferred into corn, enabling the corn to produce its own pesticides against insects.
Pros and advantages of GM crops:
Some of the advantages of GM crops are pest resistance, herbicide tolerance, nutrition, and cold tolerance. They can keep bugs away without having to use chemical pesticides, and some crops may provide more nutrition than it would have otherwise.
Concerns and disadvantages of GM crops:
The concerns with GM crops are that people may have more of an allergic reaction to them, many children in the US and Europe have developed life-threatening allergies to peanuts and other foods. Also, we do not exactly know what kind of harm they are doing to our bodies. It can be harmful to our health without us knowing it. However, with the exception of allergies, scientists believe that GM foods do not present a risk to human health.
Freedman, D.H. (2013). The truth about genetically modified food. Scientific American, 309(3).
Whitman, D.B. (2000). Genetically modified foods: Harmful or helpful? ProQuest. Retrieved from http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview.php
MedlinePlus. (2012). U.S National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002432.htm