A genetically modified organism is a plant or animal that has been genetically engineered from the DNA of other plants, animals, bacteria and viruses. GMOs are all man made, as this sort of genetic splicing does not occur in nature.
The process of making these GMOs generally involves taking genes from one species and adding it to the DNA of another species to give it new, desirable traits. For example, in the late 90s, scientists took the gene that makes a jellyfish glow and added it to DNA of a zebrafish, creating a glowing fish.
GMOs are primarily used for medical and agricultural purposes. In the medical field, GMOs are used for research, to create pharmaceutical drugs and are used in some experimental medical treatments, such as gene therapy. In agriculture, GMO crops and animals are being used to help farmers increase the amount of food they are able to produce.
Why should we care about GMOs? There's a number of reasons outlined below.
Lack of research on GMOs
Little to no research has been done by the scientific community on the effects of genetically modified foods on humans. The vast majority of the research that has been done has been led by the very companies that produce GMO crop seeds. Since these companies have billions of dollars invested in creating these genetically modified products, they have a vested interest in ensuring that their research show that their products are safe. 3rd party research is badly so that we can truly understand what he effects of eating GMO plants and animals are. Additionally, we have no longer term data showing what the effects of eating GMO plants and animals are over an entire lifetime as these man-made plants and animals are a relatively new invention.
GMOs have led to increased herbicide use
Many GMO crops are designed to make them immune to herbicide (chemicals that kill plants). If you have a field of crops that are immune to herbicide, you can use massive amounts of herbicide to kill weeds without impacting your crops. This has led to a massive increase in the use of herbicide in the United States. Between 2001 and 2010, herbicide use in the USA increased by over 25%. These herbicides are nasty chemicals that will find their way into rivers, streams and other bodies of water, polluting them. These chemicals also can coat the outside of crops or even be absorbed into them, which can lead to human consumption of the herbicide.
Some GMO foods have insecticide in them
Certain varieties of GMO crops have actually been modified so that the plants themselves create insecticide. That's right, your GMO corn may be producing chemicals that kill bugs. Is that something you really want to eat?
GMOs fail to increase farmer yield
The whole reason behind developing GMO crops is that they will out perform their natural counterparts, and help farmers increase their yield (the amount of food they can grow on their land). However, a study by the University of Wisconsin shows that this isn't actually happening. When compared to natural crops, GMO crops don't perform better. In fact, some even perform worse, leading to less food being grown.
If GMOs don't increase farm yield, why deal with the potential health risks, the increased use of herbicides and the insecticide-laced foods that come with it? Our answer to that is to not deal with it by cutting GMO foods out of your diet. AboutGMO.org has a large database of certified non-GMO foods to help you make sure that everything you eat comes from nature, not a science lab.
Search our non-GMO foods database today.