Written by guest blogger Ana Arena.
In exploring genetically modified organisms, I thought it would be handy to lay out what we “know” from the research that has been conducted so far. It is important to note that much of the research has been conducted on GMO crops, rather than GMO animals. Although the companies that produce GMO foods claim they are safe for human consumption, research remains inconclusive or suggests that their long-term effects may be more harmful than their temporary benefits.
Below are the top benefits and concerns regarding GMO foods. While this list is far from exhaustive, its points have been derived from a variety of reputable sources. Enjoy!
- GMO foods may be chemically altered to enhance their flavor and color. This could help make fruits and vegetables more attractive, leading to better health for consumers
- GMOs act as a vaccine for crops and animals: anything that has been genetically modified can be more resistant to a variety of diseases
- Genetically modified crops can be engineered to contain more vitamins and minerals than their natural counterparts
- Modifications allowing crops to become drought and infestation resistant have led to greater crop success in third world nations
- GMO produce may take longer to spoil. If true, this would not only increase the shelf life of the product, but also lead to less waste in both supermarkets and homes due to spoilage
- Strong correlations suggest the consumption of GMO foods (whether they be plants or animals) might increase the risk of food-based allergies in people
- Animals studies have shown that in internal cell structure, abnormal tumor growth and unexpected deaths have occurred
- The environmental damage caused by growing GMO products in conditions that typically would not support them is irreversible. There are ecological reasons why strawberries and artichokes should be grown only in certain climates
- GMO foods take the same amount of time and resources to mature and grow—ultimately there is no greater economic value in growing GMOs
- GMOs have not been proven safe and the long term effects have not been established
- Only the U.S. and Canada do not require labeling of GMO foods
- Some GMOs are injected with antibiotics so that they are resistant to certain diseases and viruses. Unfortunately, studies have shown (notably out of Iowa State University) that these antibiotics can persist in our bodies, potentially rendering medications less effective
Guest blogger and Simmons College student Ana Arena is majoring in nutrition with double-minors in biology and chemistry.