by Wendy Lincoln
GMO foods are foods that are genetically modified.
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. While there is no "official" definition for GMO, it means that an organism's genetic code has been changed. Genetic modification takes place in a laboratory, where the genes themselves are spliced and modified for a specific purpose.
Genetic modification is different than crossbreeding, selective breeding, splicing, or other traditional methods of modifying an organism.
GMO could be beneficial, but because it was not thoroughly tested on animals and humans before being released to the market, there is reason to believe that it may do more harm than good.
When the Plant Protection Act was enacted, there were several provisions that defined who would qualify for grants to perform biomass (GMO) research and development. Some of the intentions of the grants were:
» Decreasing the cost and expense of processing foods, including livestock feed
» Enhancing sugar yields in feedstock
» Reducing overall chemical use
» Lower the cost and improve sustainability of bio-based products, such as food crops
Among other arguments in favor of GM foods, there are is the point that it has potential to increase food production and nutrient density in staples such as soy, corn, and rice.
GMOs do have the potential to increase production and nutrient density, but what are the consequences of meddling with genetics?
Unfortunately, what has actually happened is that companies that back GM research and development, including Monsanto and DuPont, have focused on strengthening their profit margins by patenting their seeds and forcing them on farmers and the general public.
Over the years, several studies have emerged that indicate significant problems with GMO food. Results have shown serious issues such as death, organ disruption, and infertility as some of the results of a GMO laden diet. Here are a couple of the most notable:
» The International Journal of Biological Sciences conducted a study in 2009 where they compared health results of three GM corn varieties on rats. After just 90 days, it was evident that the liver and kidney, as well as other organs, lost function.
» Two Russian organizations teamed up to test the effects of GM soy on breeding hamsters. By the third generation, it was obvious that hamsters fed GM soy were becoming infertile. In addition, hair was growing inside the mouths of the third-generation GM soy-fed hamsters.
While there have been some tests conducted on GM foods by the companies that took them to market, it is the consensus of the scientific community that these tests are insufficient to prove that GM foods cause chronic problems, but initial results are alarming and warrant extensive testing.
However, it was enough for the country of France to ban the production and sale of GM foods. While results thus far are not enough to be viewed as hard proof, more and more evidence is emerging that indicate GM foods are harmful to the human body.
de Vendômois, J. S., Roullier, F., Cellier, D., & Séralini, G.-E. (2009, December 10). A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from International Journal of Biological Sciences in: http://www.ijbs.com/v05p0706.htm#headingA11
Monsanto's GMO Corn Linked to Organ Failure, Study Reveals. (2010, March 18). Retrieved April 4, 2013, from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/12/monsantos-gmo-corn-linked_n_420365.html
Russia says genetically modified foods are harmful. (2010, April 16). Retrieved April 4, 2013, from Radio: The Voice of Russia: http://english.ruvr.ru/2010/04/16/6524765/
Congress, 1. (2000). Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from US Government Printing Office: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-106publ224/html/PLAW-106publ224.htm
Highly Beneficial: Increased Yield and Hardiness. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2013, from Globalization 101: http://www.globalization101.org/highly-beneficial-increased-yield-and-hardiness/