GMOs are one of the most controversial topics in our modern time, because we consume a GMO, or genetically modified organism, basically every time we eat. The popular opinion appears to be that they are unnatural, full of chemicals, and even cancerous. But are GMOs really as dangerous as everyone says they are?
GMOs are what its name applies. An organism is injected with a preferable genome of another organism to modify its DNA structure. Forty years ago, this would have sounded like science fiction and even now it is a remarkable feat of modern science. Today, we can literally take a gene out of a plant that is resistant to a virus and put it inside a tomato seed, leading to endless benefits for the agricultural industry, especially when it comes to growing foods.
So how could changing the DNA structure of a plant be dangerous for consumption, especially when the plants prosper with their new genes? According to a ten-year study named Critical Review of Biotechnology, they’re not. After years of public consumption of foods with GMOs, there is no conclusive scientific evidence determining that GMOs are dangerous.
So why do so many people believe that GMOs are dangerous? There appears to be a spread of misinformation and a confusion between GMOs and chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides. Anti-GMO organizations are providing the popular information on GMOs as well. When you Google GMOs you receive information on GMOs on the front page of Google from the website nongmoproject.org. Websites like responsibletechnology.org say you can receive “disorders, such as autism and reproductive disorders.” When biased websites are in charge of providing education on topics, it is a perfect recipe to spread misinformation.
That said, GMOs do potentially present an ecological problem. The GMO plants are pollinating other plants whose genes are formed by nature. Because of natural selection, the pollinated plants are using the GMOs more preferable genes. While this can actually be a benefit for the plants in nature, there could be consequences on the ecosystems that the plants are a part of.
The misconceptions surrounding GMOs are very dangerous ones. When 13.5% of the world is starving, we shouldn’t be trying to restrict the most efficient way of making food we know of. If we were to outlaw GMOs, the 7.2 billion people in the world would suffer immensely.
By: Joseph Dittman