The Fight Against GMO’s
Think back to the last meal you had; now think about how much of that food you consumed was genetically modified (GM). About 80% of today’s processed food contains genetically modified organisms, otherwise known as GMO’s. (Hemphill, Syagnik). If you have never questioned where the food you consume on a daily basis comes from, it is time to start questioning. A genetically modified organism is a new version of a plant or animal that is created by altering genes using biotechnology (“What Is a GMO?”). Today, more than 40 types of plants have been genetically modified and on the market to buy (Network). An astonishing 90% of Canola, 88% of Corn and 94% of soy are GM (“What Is a GMO?”). The FDA claims that GMO’s are nothing to worry about, and that it is perfectly healthy to consume food that is artificially made. From their perspective, GM plants are just as safe and tested the same as traditionally bred plants (“U.S. Food and Drug Administration”). The FDA leaves the safety testing up to companies that produces GMO’s, however the tests hide the raw facts of the dangers, so they can gain profit from consumers. On the other hand, independent research not sponsored by these corrupt companies verify that GMO’s found in food are not nearly as safe as certified organic food. GMO’s have been proven to cause cancer, harm the environment, and induce multiple other health problems (“The Truth About GMOs”). Banning GMO’s would create a cleaner world to live in, without having to worry about what the food you eat is made of. Although banning may not be possible in the near future due to the large corporations that profit off of GMO’s, Labeling products should be a requirement so that consumers can choose if they want genetically made food or not.
So why are GMO’s so harmful? To start, the FDA doesn’t handle the safety studies on genetically modified food; they leave it up to companies that produce them. The companies that make them, however, want to make money in the easiest way possible, so their results show no signs of any “danger”. Independent animal research not associated to these companies show health risks resulting from GMO’s that include infertility, immune system problems, gastrointestinal problems, organ changes, and very large tumors (GMO OMG). If you are satisfied with eating food that can cause all of those complications, then you approve of genetic modification. The dangers go even farther than health risks: GMO’s also endanger out environment, food security, and agricultural system. Spraying crops with excessive amounts of herbicide can pollute land, water and can contaminate our food. Basically, the only people benefiting from genetically modified foods are the companies that make them. If they aren’t disclosing their studies to consumers who just want to know what they are eating, then there must be something worth hiding. (“Going against GMO’s”).
Labeling genetically modified foods is the first step on the road to banning them. Not enough people, particularly in the United States, are knowledgeable about the danger of GMO’s. Laws banning the use of these types of foods are not uncommon, in fact over 64 countries around the world have banned the use of them (Faber). There is no plausible reason that GMO’s shouldn’t be banned, or at the least, labeled. Changing labels of food products to show that they either contain GMO or not, will not make prices go up, or cause companies to spend more money on producing labels. Companies like General Mills change labels constantly, and the price of the products remains the same (Faber). Adding labels would make consumers that are cautious of eating products that contain GMO’s feel a lot safer. Labeling products to show they contain GMO’s would make the big corporations lose money, so they try and push any law that is in favor of labeling away (Faber).
Some people argue that without using biotechnology, there would not be enough food for everyone. However, the production of non-genetically engineered crops in countries around Western Europe is just as effective as farming genetically engineered crops in the United States. Other studies in parts of Africa conclude that using traditional techniques improved production of labor 30% more than the method of genetically engineering crops (Cassidy). Today, we produce as much food to feed 14 billion people, for a population of 7 billion (GMO OMG). There are multiple examples of the dangers putting GMO’s in food can cause, yet the industries that produce genetically modified seeds prevent any change.
The largest seed corporation in the world that produces and sells genetically modified seeds is Monsanto. This company produces seeds that resist herbicides and weed killers, by using biotechnology. After the seeds are planted and grown, the food is therefore genetically modified. Mostly 27% of genetically modified crops made in the world come from farmers that use their seeds (Kimbrell). There are many unusual factors about how Monsanto runs their company. To start, they require every farmer to sign a detailed contract stating that they must re-purchase new seeds after a year. It is apparent that Monsanto just wants to make money off of making farmers buy seeds even if they don’t need more (GMO OMG). Citizens that try and take action against GMO’s by developing laws to label them get shut down by lobbyists that Monsanto pays off. The corporation spends an average of six billion dollars on lobbying every year. (Sarich). If GMO’s are as safe as Monsanto and other corporations similar to them say they are, then why are they afraid of labeling food products?
Following the Earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, Monsanto donated 475 tons of seeds to Haitian farmers, as a way to “help” them in this devastating time (Greenhalgh). Seeds that are naturally made are important to the people of Haiti; and because of this they protested and committed to burning their entire donation. Coming from the people of the poorest country of the world, this outcry should say something about the ethics of GMO’s (GMO OMG). If the people of Haiti do not accept the plethora of genetically modified seeds given to them in the most desperate of times, then why are Americans consuming food that comes from these seeds at almost every meal? In the words of Chavannes Jean-Baptiste; the Leader of the Peasant Movement of Papay,
“The objective of Monsanto is to make money, not about the quality of food that people are eating. Their objective is not to protect life, or protect the environment. When people like me say these types of seeds are poisonous and destroying the life of the land, and destroying the life of people, that’s when I am attack the interest of Monsanto. They say they have a gift for you, it’s a gift to kill you; because for us, the seed is something sacred.” (GMO OMG)
The Peasant Movement of Papay should be an inspiration to people everywhere in the world. The Haitians barley had anything left after an earthquake wiped out all of their crops; yet they still stuck to their morals and beliefs because eating GMO’s would be worse than not eating anything at all (GMO OMG).
As a consumer, you barely have a choice whether or not you want to avoid GMO’s because most products aren’t labeled. There are ways to avoid them everywhere and although it may be difficult, it can be done. When shopping at a grocery store, USDA Organic labeled foods and fresh produce the safest option. If buying processed foods, make sure you look for products with a Non-GMO Project Verified label. The major nine genetically made crops that are sold in grocery stores include corn, canola, cottonseed, sugar beets, soybeans, alfalfa (fed to livestock), papaya, yellow squash and zucchini. You should also be cautious of additional GMO’s added to foods like Aspartame, which used in diet sodas and artificial sweeteners (Going against GMO’s”).
As an individual, you can join the fight and help end GMO’s. Consumer rejection can be effective way to reduce the production of GMO’s. Eating fresh and organic produce is just one example of what you can do to help the process of labeling GM foods. Educating friends and family that aren’t aware of GMO’s and how much of it they’re eating on a daily basis can promote getting the word out. Involving with signing petitions against GMO’s and supporting Non-GMO organizations can help also (Network).
There is enough evidence on GMO’s that show the harm they cause to the people and environment. It can be overwhelming to think about the corruption of our government and big businesses that only revolve around making a profit. If we cannot trust our government to protect us against foods that prove they cause catastrophic health risks, then what can we do? One day the United States will join the 50 other countries that have made it either made it mandatory to label GM foods, or have already banned them (“What Are We Eating?”). Labeling products would cause no inconvenience for anyone but the companies that deserve to lose money for what they’re selling. Until GMO’s are banned and we explore alternative options to growing mass amounts of crops in a healthy way, then genetic modification will continue to dictate the food industry.
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