The Pros and Cons of GMOs

GMOs, or genetically modified foods that underwent some genetic engineering. In most cases, we change crops to improve yield, battle specific diseases, or make them hardier. Soybeans, cotton, and corn are all crops that are usually GMOs. Currently, GMOs account for more than 90% of US crops.  

Over the last few years, there’s been some backlash, as many believe that they’re unhealthy. In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of eating GMOs. 

Photo By Waldemar Brandt

The Benefits of GMOs

GMOs Enhance Food Quality

You can engineer foods that have been genetically modified to extend their shelf life, and subsequently, reduce food waste. GMOs can reduce seed counts, enhance color, or improve the tolerance of a crop so it can endure changes in the weather. Several foods are genetically modified for the sake of improving their nutritional content, which includes protein and calcium.

It Is Easier for a Farmer to Grow GMOs

You can engineer foods that are genetically modified so that they can grow in challenging environments. You can create crops that can withstand insects. You can engineer crops to make them more tolerant to certain herbicides. In doing so, farmers will yield better crops when a growing season ends, increasing their profits as a result.

GMOs Increase Food Yields Produced on Current Croplands

By 2050, the population of planet earth is likely to exceed 10 billion. As such, existing resources will be needed to accommodate everyone. GMOs provide us with the ability to produce more food without increasing food structure costs.

You Can Ship GMOs to Remote Places on the Planet

A food surplus of 17% is currently produced by the planet. However, the distribution of food to rural areas that lack resources to grow food locally is an issue. Before the food arrives at these places, they will spoil and be rendered unconsumable. GMOs enhance a food’s lifespan, as well as its durability. This allows food to be delivered to faraway places (while minimizing waste) to populations with hunger concerns.

In Contrast to Regular Crops, Usage of Herbicides on Certain GMO Crops Happens to Be Lower

PG Economics conducted a study that evaluated how pesticides were used on GMO-based cotton. The study was conducted between 1996 and 2011 and revealed that herbicide use decreased by 6.1% in contrast to the intended usage amount. Over 1.5 kilograms worth of herbicide per hectare continues to be used, though, a figure that is believed to jump up to 3.5 kilograms a hectare by the year 2025.

As per FDA Guidelines, GMO Foods Must Adhere to the Same Protocols That Other Foods Are Subjected to

Various GMO foods were compared to organic foods by Stanford University. They did not find any proof of GMO foods being more nutritious than organic food, and vice versa. There’s no evidence to suggest that GMO foods carry more health risks than organic food, once consumed.

The Disadvantages of GMOs

GMOs Could Potentially Increase Allergies That Are Food-Related

According to the CDC, the amount of allergies that children endure has gone up to 5.1% (from 3.4%) over the last 10 years. Having said that, there isn’t any proof supporting the concept that GMOs are responsible for increases in allergies related to food. Nonetheless, the concern that it could influence people to refrain from the consumption of GMO foods.

Allergies Could Be Triggered by Alternative Foods Genetically Engineered

In one study, GMOs containing Brazil nut protein was discovered to trigger allergic reactions for those who had allergies to them. As such, proteins derived from different foods need to be listed on ingredient labels and growing processes. They must also be tested in order to establish their capacity to stimulate allergic reactions.

Antibiotic Resistance Is Stimulated by GMOs

GMOs tend to be integrated with genes that are antibiotic-resistant for the sake of strengthening crops. Though there aren’t any confirmed correlations or facts, there is some speculation that the process could contribute to the development of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.

A Study in 2013 Connected Cancer Formation to GMOs

A 2013 study involving rats found a link between cancer development and a herbicide contained in crops that were round-up tolerant. After the study came out, the journal who published it retracted the statement, claiming that the information was misleading or invalid. However, the study has since been republished in other journals. As a result, many people are under the impression that consumption of GMO corn may be detrimental to our health.

Only Six Organizations Regulate the Whole GMO Seed Industry (as well as 70% of the Worldwide Pesticide Market)

A lot of the negativity surrounding GMOs generally revolves around Monsanto. Besides this company, five others regulate the entire GMO seed industry. The other companies are DuPont, BASF, Bayer, Dow Agrosciences, and Syngenta. As such, most soybean and corn products are profitable for farmers and these companies. To keep these profits protected, certain seeds are patented. That means other farmers who cross-pollinate GMO seeds with crops could face legal issues, regardless of whether GMOs are planted.

Resistance to Herbicide Naturally Happens Without Any Genetic Engineering Needed

At the moment, there are 64 individual weeds that have shown to be atrazine-resistant. These weeds haven’t been paired up with GMO crops for the sake of stimulating a resistance. A number of American farmers in southeastern states may lose 50% of their yielded crops to weeds that are atrazine-resistant, even if GMO crops are planted.

Thanks to 50% of the Controlling Organizations out There, Third-Party Research on GMO Seeds Isn’t Permitted

Half of the leading producers of GMO seeds must sign a user agreement that prohibits third-party research from being conducted on a final product. As a result, royalties earned by companies are safeguarded when farmers harvest yields from their seeds. Because those seeds are seen as company property, GMO crops that are unintentionally grown may warrant royalty payouts.

Alan Behrens

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