GMO’s and Their Impact (Post 1)

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An article by the author Kenneth Chang said, “In a few years, you could be eating the next generation of genetically altered foods — potatoes that do not turn brown or soybeans with a healthier mix of fatty acids.” The quote introduces the controversial idea of genetically modified organisms, which seems to take effect on many people who prefer to stay on the organic side of what their body consumes. A GMO is a laboratory process where the DNA of a different source was extracted from and injected to interfere with a different organism’s DNA. Although the topic of genetically modified organisms leans on the negative side, it is important to be aware that the people in favor of this process could also have had a good reason to continue it.

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I wanted to write on a topic that related to health. It was important for me to talk on a topic that had an impact of people’s health. When I came across the topic of GMOs, that is when I felt it was important to me as the writer. I am very enthusiastic on the topic of healthy food consumption and organic products. Being able to discuss on a topic about foods being modified scientifically is what got me interested in writing about this.

Credit: NY Times

GMO’s take an important stand in the law. On March of 2016, Jennifer Steinhaure and Stephanie Strom wrote an article named “Senate to Vote on GMO Food Labeling Bill” where the discussion of how the bill in action would impact the food industry in both prices and the amount of consumption. The authors write, “Under the bill, the Agriculture Department would establish a national voluntary marketing standard for foods that are bioengineered or may contain bioengineering and encourage participation with incentives.” This quote introduces the idea of food industries having the option to voluntarily label their food produce as non-GMO. On the contrary, Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, for example, is concerned about the impact of the cost of food through a period of time in which he states that “the poorest people are going to be harmed the most because it is going to drive up the cost of the food supply chain”. The law that mandates GMO labeling took effect in the year of 2016 for most food packaging companies, but not all.

Credit: NY Times

The concern of many people in the non-GMO project is the idea that the food you consume could have been altered without even realizing it. The law on GMO labeling needs to pass certain requirements, as stated in Kenneth Chang’s article “These Foods Aren’t Genetically Modified but They Are ‘Edited’”. The authors of the article state, “The federal Agriculture Department has asked companies to advise it of their plans. But once the companies submit data to show the agency that the gene edits do not introduce foreign genes from plant pests into the crops, the agency is giving businesses the green light.” In other words, the newer generation is introducing a new method that is not genetically modified produce, but gene-edited produce; a new way of altering DNA only in certain locations. But, GMO’s are not only found in plants and crops but also in farm animals. Gene-editing stands on the idea of altering DNA for good purposes like adding dietary fibers or lowering the amount of carbohydrates. Chang’s states, “Critics warned that the industry was repeating the same mistake of G.M.O.s.” Just because food companies have replaced the term genetically modified organisms for gene editing does not mean that it implies two different meanings.

Credit: NY Times

On the flip side of the story, genetically modified organisms have been declared to be safe and not harmful to consumers. Andrew Pollack wrote an article on the topic called “Genetically Engineered Crops Are Safe, Analysis Finds”. It is stated that “Genetically engineered crops appear to be safe to eat and do not harm the environment, according to a comprehensive new analysis by the advisory group the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.” The quote supports the idea of genetic changes focusing more on making the crop a better version rather than focus on what had to be done to make it better. Going off on that idea, it has also been reported “…genetic engineering had provided environmental and economic benefits to the American farmers”. Certain studies conducted by The Biotechnology Innovation Organization insist that these gene-edited crops do not impose health risks and are rather safe to consume. A professor at the University of Georgia, Wayne Parrott, stated: “The inescapable conclusion, after reading the report, is the G.E. crops are pretty much just crops. They are not the panacea that some proponents claim, nor the dreaded monsters that others claim.”

Works Cited:

  • Steinhauer, Jennifer and Strom, Stephanie. “Senate to Vote on GMO Food Labeling Bill”. 15 March 2016.
  • Chang, Kenneth. “These Foods Aren’t Genetically Modified but They Are ‘Edited’”. 9 January 2017.
  • Pollack, Andrew. “Genetically Engineered Crops Are Safe, Analysis Finds”. 17 May 2016.