The Roundup -

GMOs: The Good, The Bad, The Truth

 

In our agricultural industry, we get a lot of backlash on the use of GMOs, but GMOs have never been a problem until now. Why is that?

Let's start with livestock. A question commonly asked is, "Will genetically modified crops fed to livestock, effect the final product?" First you have to understand that cattle have been eating GM crops for nearly 20 years. The feed has included modified corn and modified soybeans; in this time, GMOs have never been detected in the milk or meat produced from the animals receiving GM feed. Another thing to understand that almost all food that both people and animals eat contains DNA and proteins. When these proteins are broken down during digestion into one or more of the 21 amino acids that exist in nature, studies have shown that none of these proteins are transferred into animal tissues. So, genetically modified crops are digested in the same way as conventional crops in animals. However, several studies have documented that small fragments of plant-derived, but not genetically engineered, DNA can pass into tissues of animals that consume the plants. In conclusion, feeds made from GMOs for livestock are safe and has never harmed the animal or their bi-products for human consumption. There have also been no documented case of human illness or allergen associated with GMO foods.

GMOs get a lot of hate because people do not believe that there have been long-term health studies on GMO plants, but believe it or not, GMOs have a long and safe track record for the last 17 years and health studies have been conducted in this time. Genetically modified crops are extensively tested for consumer and environmental safety, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration review these tests, along with several international organizations as well. Citizens can go to geneticliteracyproject.org to find a complete list of 1,783 studies done on genetically modified organisms, as well as many articles and blog posts on GMOs. On biofortified.org, people can research a constantly growing list of independent studies being done on the topic. In the end, all the research conducted by every major scientific body and administrative agency on GMOs, has openly declared that crop biotechnology and the foods available for sale are safe. With all of the extensive research and testing, scientists can openly say that GMO foods are no more risky than non-GMO foods, and do not differ in nutritional value.

Another question being asked on GMOs is, "Are GMOs causing an increase in allergies?", which is one of the leading anti-GMO campaigns. First of all, eight major food groups mainly cause food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts and shellfish. It is crucial to point out that the only one of these major allergens which is a potential product of biotechnology is soy. The other allergens are not commercially available in GMO varieties. Another thing to note is that if a person is allergic to a non-genetically modified plant, he or she will also be allergic to the plant's genetically modified counterpart. But, any new allergens are not being introduced by GMOs, and in fact, researchers are working on new GMOs that have the potential to help people with allergies to certain foods. More information on those studies can be found at dailymail.com on an article titled, "GM Peanuts Could End Danger To Children".

When it comes to GMOs and cancer, it will be kept pretty short. The 1,080 studies (genera.biofortified.org) about the health and safety of GMOs, along with a decade of research, finds that GMOs pose no greater risk than their conventional counterparts.

Much can be said on genetically modified organisms, either good or bad, but the bad rap on GMOs is mainly worry. Many people do not realize that much of the food we eat today is GM, and just because a food product may be labeled organic, does not necessarily mean GMO free. GMOs today are being used to improve food allergies, food supply and more. The important thing to say now is to always do the research and always know the facts about what you are putting in your body.

*work cited: Community Manager "Top 10 Consumer Questions About GMOs, Answered". GMO Answers. Council of Biotechnology Information. Tuesday, March 18, 2014.

 

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