GMOs not so scary after allIn the United States of America, upwards of 3 million people depend on its farmers to provide food and produce for its population. With a vast number of consumers relying on these farmers and producers, it takes modern technology to keep everyone fed. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), are organisms that have been genetically altered through the scientific process of gene splicing; replacing a gene with a different gene. At first this may seem like a bad concept, but after researching about it, one may find that genetically modified organisms are much more beneficial than they are harmful. GMO’s have been a turning point in modern agriculture by keeping food on our plates, helping crops withstand environments, health factors, and even helping protect the environment.
First, lets get a better understanding of how and why genetically modified organisms are created. Since the 1970’s scientists have been testing and researching genetically modified organisms. Some processes, such as gene splicing, can edit the genes of a living thing by replacing one gene with that of another living thing. This technique is used for various reasons such as making crops withstand hash environments or making a certain plant more nutritious by taking those nutrients from another vegetable.
Genetically modified organisms play an essential role in modern society by keeping millions of Americans fed. Without the use of GMOs, a typical grocery store would look a lot different than it would now. Crops can be affected by changing climates and environmental factors that could cause immense loss of crops. The addition of genes can create crops that are meant to withstand extreme temperatures and overall have a higher yield. Without the use of GMO, the amount fresh produce, processed foods, and animal food could potentially be threatened.
In addition, non-GMO and organic products typically cost more money. If GMO use was to be eliminated altogether, America would see a dramatic increase in the cost of food, and many with low income would not be able to afford to eat. The use of GMO’s keep food relatively inexpensive. More crops survive rough conditions and therefore there is a surplus of food that keeps prices lower.
From fast foods to processed foods, GMOs are used in soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup, along with many other ingredients that line shelves of stores. Now, some of these ingredients are unhealthy whether GMOs are used, the only difference is that with their use, there is no shortage of ingredients to produce processed foods. Avoiding processed foods and fast foods is always the best way to maintain a healthy diet, but today, many people are on the go and need access to a quick bite to eat or a meal ready to go in the oven. Again, without the use of GMO’s there would be limited options in grocery stores as well as an inexpensive or quick meal.
Next, let’s discuss health factors. Contrary to popular belief, scientists have concluded that genetically modified organisms have no adverse effect on human or animal health. Each type of GMO has gone through extensive testing, between 7-10 years, to ensure that their product will not cause harm to humans or animals or cause allergy problems. None were found to be harmful in any way despite non-scientific claims by ordinary citizens that link GMO’s to cancer or obesity.
GMO’s may be the opposite of unhealthy. Scientists and researchers across the globe have been creating vitamin enriched organisms using biotechnology. In 3rd world countries, it is not uncommon for children go blind, which can cause death in many cases due to lack of vital nutrients. Where rice is a surplus, the use of GMO’s can be implemented to enrich the rice with vitamin-A and prevent childhood blindness. Another example is a tomato plant that produces higher levels of nutrients know as anthocyanins, which can prevent common diseases and illnesses. Products such as these have not yet hit the market and are still undergoing research but appear to be a promising outlook for disease prevention and overall health.
Lastly, genetically modified organisms can help protect the environment, rather than destroy it. Many people would argue this without doing their research, spreading misinformation that GMO’s are harming plant and animal life. Facts show that it is quite the opposite and that there are many ways in which GMO’s can decrease damage caused to the environment and biosphere and enrich biodiversity for the following reasons.
Pesticides are known to be very harmful and damaging to the environment. When sprayed on crops, chemicals are released that kill bugs, but can also be toxic to small animals, become airborne, and even leach into rivers and fresh ground water. This is where GMO crops come in. With the use of GMO technology, plants can have a trait that will prevent insects from feeding on them without the over spraying of pesticides and chemicals compared to crops without that trait. “On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%”
Another way in which GM crops help with the environment is water conservation. GM crops are less susceptible to drought conditions and therefore use significantly less water. To add, soil quality is preserved since soil does not have to be turned over and tilled, unlike non-GM crops where the soil must be overturned frequently too prevent weeds. Biotechnology in GM crops is used to reduce carbon emissions and lessen air pollution. Air quality becomes better with GM crops opposed to regular crops that have high levels of carbon emissions due to vehicles that spray with pesticides and herbicides. “Another way farming contributes to global warming is from the release of carbon from the soil. Different tilling practices determine the amount of carbon released with conventional tilling emitting the most while NT emits the least. Barfoot & Brookes (2014), state that since 1998 due to the increase in use of RT and NT systems, there has been a savings of 22,145 million kg of carbon dioxide that would have been released into the atmosphere from U.S maize crops”. The improvement of water conservation, soil preservation, and air quality make agriculture more sustainable.
In conclusion, research has shown that the use of GMOs in crops are not harmful to humans or the environment, and instead are beneficial. By means of keeping Americans fed, health factors, and environmental factors, the GM crops have proven to be the key to a better future. Scientists and researchers will continue finding new ways to improve the food and agriculture industry far into the future with the help of GMOs.
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