GMO or otherwise known as genetically modified organisms is defined as “an organism or microorganism whose genetic material has been altered by means of genetic engineering” by dictionary.com and well, that tells you a lot about what they are. The debate over GMO’s has been outrageous recently especially with the introduction of Prop 37 in California. Prop 37 means:
- Required labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.
- Prohibited labeling or advertising such food as “natural.”
- Exempted from this requirement foods that are “certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages.”
What I’m interested in the most is what makes GMO such a controversial matter? It could be because of the health and safety reasons that we shouldn’t interfere with nature, or the ethical issue associated with it, or it could simply be because people don’t like their food to be messed with. Before anyone jump to the conclusion of becoming pro or anti GMO, let’s look at the benefits and the harm.
Genetically Modified foods grow quicker than normal foods and since we’re a country that’s always after speed, GMO would help reduce the growth time of plants tremendously. The foods that are modified have more nutrition and they are improved resistant to disease, pests and herbicides. Two short generations ago, our nation didn’t have enough food to feed everyone and back then, farming was all by hand, like the way we imagine it would be. However, with the advance of technologies, farming has transformed into an art and every drop of water is perfectly articulated to water the plant in a non-wasteful way. Farmers maximize their profit by grasping the science behind fall these new technologies because utilizing the most of their resources will help them get the most money and that’s generally what everybody’s after. On a lighter note, did you know if bananas weren’t genetically modified, the seeds in the middle would prevent us from eating it? Now imagine a world without bananas, how horrible would that be.
Animals can also be genetically modified and the modified animals have fewer health problems and are generally tastier. Farmers don’t have to worry about the swine flu or the mad cow disease with genetically modified animals because they are engineered to be resistant to bacteria and diseases.
I’m all for building better food for humanity but it frightens me to think there are consequences for trying to interfere with nature too much. In physics, every action triggers a reaction and since GMO’s are so new, we don’t really know about the reactions. Some of the opposing views say we’re introducing new species of plants and animals and that would have detrimental effects on our ecosystem. Also, if we instill herbicide resistant genes into the plants, if our crop accidentally crosses with weed or bacteria, they would be extremely hard to eliminate. Though some studies say GMO crops yield in a shorter time, many also claim that statement is false and the standard foods grow in equal amount of time as GMO. If that were the case, then GMO food doesn’t really have an edge because as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
After weighting both sides of the issue, I see the importance of this issue and though I don’t agree with Prop 37, I’m skeptical on GMO’s. Prop 37 will cost companies millions of dollars every year and where are they going to get that money from? CEO’s aren’t cutting their own pay rolls to put the labels on their foods so to save myself and my family some extra bucks, I’m going to skip out on supporting this one. If someone truly wants to know if something is genetically engineered, they’ll find a way. On the other side, I hope you thought about living in a world without bananas, because I deserve the right to have a banana split.