Potential risks of GMOs outweigh benefits


Hannah Hess, Reporter

With increasing production of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), it is necessary to know how these things affect daily life.

GMOs provide a few benefits, including the fact that there are now crops and plants with a resistance to insects, and tolerance to herbicides, heat cold and drought, and provide major benefits to developing countries who face starvation.

However, there are far more risks to these “Frankenfoods”, as anti-GMO activists call them. Some of these potential risks include increasing cases of allergies, antibiotic resistance in humans, environmental damage, and even cancer.

But what are genetically modified organisms and genetic modification?

Genetic modification of organisms is when genes from the DNA of one species is extracted and artificially forced into another unrelated organism.

Some scientists may claim that GMOs, or GM foods specifically, are safe to eat, and even healthy. However, Mary Vandewiele, a co-owner of The Better Health Store, said that the long term health effects are still unknown. This means that the public is basically serving as guinea pigs, part of an unfinished science experiment, where scientists are continuing to observe the effects as GM foods are consumed.

Regarding the effect of GMOs on allergies, one of the most common allergies in children is soy. One of the most common GM foods is also soy. See the connection? If scientists stop genetically modifying foods, the amount of allergies could be significantly reduced.

Genes resistant to antibiotics are also present in some GM foods. These antibiotic resistant genes could be taken up by bacteria in the gut during digestion. According to GMO Compass, if these bacteria were to cause an infection, it would be very difficult for doctors to treat.

Another thing difficult for doctors to treat is cancer, which can be caused by GMOs as well. A widely used GM herbicide, called Roundup, contains an ingredient known as glyphosate. This has been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma, according to the Environmental Working Group. Even though cancer can be caused by many things, the risk of cancer from Roundup could be reduced if it were to be banned.

Many GM crops are grown for herbicide tolerance as well. According to the Non-GMO Project, toxic herbicide use has increased as much as 16 times since GMOs were first produced. This can cause “superweeds” and “superbugs”  which can only be killed by toxic chemicals. This is also not the only threat GM crops pose towards farmers. Since some seeds of GM crops are copyrighted, when another farmer is found with the seed on his/her land, even if it is due to a drift, they can be sued.

Many developed nations do not even consider GMOs to be safe, with many of them requiring strict labeling, or even banning the production and sale. These restrictions are accounted for in over 60 countries around the world, according to the Non-GMO Project. This is one of the greatest solutions to the GMO problem, and should be worked towards being spread to other nations.

GMOs may sound like a great thing to people who only look at the benefits of them. However, when one considers the risks, they outweigh the benefits by far.