Examining the Effects of Genetically Modified Food

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In a world with a constantly growing population of both humans and other animals, food scarcity around the world is taking flight as there is more mouths to feed, and little space for agriculture. With the addition of more humans in the world, more farmland is needed to grow crops to supply the population. As climate conditions, soil fertility, and overall space for agriculture is diminishing, humans need to adapt to these changing conditions in order to maintain a constant supply of food. To answer this growing sustenance question, scientists and farmers have gathered together to figure out different ways to increase crop yield, minimize the least desirable traits in crops, and how to make crops survive different climates and weather conditions.

With the new century of a large population, urbanization, and the need for more farmland, it was not long before scientists started to identify ways to answer some of these questions at the genetic level of these crops. Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, could be the answer to these questions regarding food scarcity, however, as these traits are not found in nature, what is the environmental impact genetically modified organisms could have on our planet? Or, what could these modified organisms do to the human body, or even at the genetic level? At what cost would the gamble with nature have on the natural world around us?

To understand the effects of genetically modified organisms, one has to know what exactly they are. As the definition is straight forward, and article from the Non-GMO Project defines genetically modified organisms as “… a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology” the article also states how GMOs result in “combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods” (Non-GMO Project). Adding more meaning to the definition, an article from Live Science mentioned that genetically engineered foods are “those that have had foreign genes from other plants or animals inserted into their genetic codes” (Live Science). The article also mentions how these genetically modified foods help keep them consistently flavored, and resistant to diseases, pests, and drought.

Plants that are used in mass exploitation such as cotton, corn, and wheat are depended on by humans across the globe. Corn is used in many products like diapers, corn oil, cereal, sweeteners, fructose syrup, flour, popcorn, and most importantly, different biofuels. Cotton is depended on to make clothes, carpets, and also beauty products. Wheat is used to make oats, bread, pasta, and alcoholic beverages, and even more food products. Plants such as these are incredibly dependent for humans to create goods for daily survival. An interesting article from Gene Watch UK was published and discussed how genetically modified crops were genetically modified so they are “toxic to certain insects” and how they are often called “Bt crops because the introduced genes were originally identified in a bacterial species called Bacillus thuringiensis” (Gene Watch UK).

The article also discusses how the Bt gene is a pesticide produced inside of the plant rather than it being added to the outside of the plant. Due to this, concerns regarding the negative effects the genetically modified organisms can have on humans and livestock has increased in the recent years. In livestock, farmers and large production corporations are known to genetically engineer growth hormones and steroids and force them on cattle, chickens, lambs, and pigs. These growth hormones could be considered problematic to humans when they ingest these animals, causing hormone imbalance, increase cancer risk, and added unnecessary estrogen and testosterone in the human body. Behind this reasoning and the medical problems, the genetically modified organisms could lead to, many people around the world are fighting against genetically altered organisms as they could have adverse effects on humans, and as it is incredible unethical to put unnecessary hormones and steroids on animals.

When observing the effects genetically modified organisms could have on humans, over a short period of time, there could be little to no changes at all. However, some believe that over a long time period, these modified organisms could alter the human genome with their artificial genes. As this premature hypothesis seem questionable, I personally do not think that genetically modified organisms could do enough harm to the human body to cause any issues with our genome. As humans, we adapt in a way that is advanced for what we consume, whether that is the food we eat, the things we learn, the places we go, or the stress that we go through. Genetically modified food could have been a problem years ago when it was first introduced into the human food chain, but I believe that as more and more food is altered genetically, our bodies have gotten used to the foods, potentially not even detecting that they are altered from nature.

A scientific company called Monsanto, is a world leading producer of genetically modified organisms. The company is the main producer of the commercial herbicide, Round-Up. Round-Up is toxic in the sense that it is quite literally a poison as it is meant to kill weeds and never let them grow back in the same spot. Monsanto is also company that makes genetically modified organisms in the interests of large-scale farmers. The farmers that Monsanto caters to are the ones that supply most of America’s population with corn and wheat.

As Monsanto continues to develop genetically modified organisms two powerful farmers across America, the more products that are ingested by humans could have questionable effects on the long-term health of humans. These health effects are outlined in an article from Forbes magazine, which gives more detail into the facts behind Monsanto’s genetically modified organisms. For example, the article discussed how most of Monsanto’s modified crops are resistant to herbicides, more specifically, Monsanto’s Round-Up. When the powerful and toxic weed killer is sprayed onto some soy, corn, and beet plants that have been altered, they are modified to continue to grow and not die, which in turn ends up being consumed by animals such as humans. The article also states that Round-Up could have detrimental effects on soil health.

The article goes on to discuss how Round-Up potentially does not allow plants to absorb micronutrients in the soil when Round-Up is added to the plant and into the surrounding soil (Forbes). Therefore, when farmers are intrigued to add Round-Up to their genetically modified plants that are resistant to it, they are actually degrading the soil and are processing their crops with the toxin on it to be consumed by humans all across America. In my opinion, when large corporations like Monsanto exploit their products such as Round-Up to use on their genetically modified organisms, it adds to the reasons why people assume these artificial products are not only bad for the environment, but also to our health as consumers. If these companies could have produced the organisms without the extra exploitation of their herbicide to go along with the product, farmers could possibly have larger yields of crops without diminishing their soil. At this point, I do not believe that genetically modified organisms are anything to be in question of, however, with the addition of toxins sprayed on them, it would be enough to raise concern for consumers across the country.

In comparison to the negative “effects” genetically modified organisms could have on the health of humans, there is also an reason to believe that the artificial organisms can cause more benefits in the world. In an interview with three notable professors in the University of California system, the interview, conducted by the website, Best Food Facts, asked questions to these notable professors regarding nutrition of modified food compared to natural food, allergies in modified food, and any health risks associated with genetically modified foods. When asked about the nutritional quality of genetic modified organisms compared to non-modified organisms, three doctors responded in a way that the nutritional value carries no substantial difference between the two types of organisms.

All three doctors concluded that that genetically modified organisms have to be approved before entering any market, and therefore show no substantial difference in nutritional value than foods that are non-GMO. The next question related to genetically modified organisms and their relation to allergies. All three doctors mentioned that genetically modified food is commercially placed in grocery stores therefore they do not cause allergies and in fact they would be able to reduce allergies with the modifications they undergo. Another doctor also mentioned that allergies are found in foods that are typically not genetically modified such as shellfish and nuts and the doctor also stressed that no genetically modified foods have ever been recorded to cause allergic reactions in humans.

The last question asked pertained to any health risk associated with consuming genetically modified organisms in the answer to this question was answered by a prominent professor who believed that genetically modified organisms do not have any health risks when being consumed the professor also mentioned that genetically modified organisms are more thoroughly tested then any product that enters grocery stores and that seeds that are modified undergo strict and very long testing is laboratory research.

In my opinion genetically modified foods do better for our contemporary planet then it does any harm. With our growing population and a high demand for farmland I believe that genetically modified food is the way to feed the world’s growing population. In America and other parts of the world such as India there are still people that live in poverty that need access to clean and sustainable food. The production of genetically modified organisms is to me, a sustainable way to have a constant source of food. Food scarcity is a growing question in our everyday lives. The depletion of farmland raises questions for farmers and ranchers that raise animals that are used for consumption.

Which is why is why I believe plants and a sustainable diet filled with greenery is the answer to food scarcity issues all around the globe and if genetically modified organisms can alter the way plants grow in a way that makes the plant more versatile in any setting such as being resistant to certain diseases, and pests, while also being drought resistant and can grow with limited nutrients and space. Having a plant with these traits can bring food to areas of the world that it would never be able to live before it was genetically modified. It’s reasons like these that can help people living in harsh conditions and in poverty receive the nutrition that they need.

Cite this paper

Examining the Effects of Genetically Modified Food. (2021, Oct 25). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/examining-the-effects-of-genetically-modified-food/

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