Corn that repels insects without pesticides. Tomatoes that don’t rot for weeks. That all may sound pretty sweet, but the truth is that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may leave a sour taste in your mouth once you know the potential health risks.
So what is a GMO? If you’re thinking Franken-fruit, you’re pretty much right. A GMO is any living thing, be it flora or fauna, that has been genetically altered using modern biotechnology. Scientists modify fruits and vegetables to resist herbicides, enabling farmers to spray fields with poisons to wipe out competing plants. They also breed produce to develop built-in pesticides, or to stay ripe longer. Animals may be modified to grow larger or yield certain nutrients. Chinese researchers have even tinkered with cows to produce something similar to human milk.
Most of our soybeans and corn are genetically modified, and unless the label states otherwise, you’re probably buying the GMO versions at the supermarket. The FDA is okay with all of this, but that doesn’t mean that it’s really safe.
Most obviously, showering newly-resistant crops with herbicides means that we, the consumers, are getting harsh chemicals in our cereal bowls. There’s also concern that ever-increasing food allergies may be GMO-related, although it’s hard to tell because GMO foods are not labelled as such. And farming Giant Monsanto spent millions making sure it stays that way, helping to defeat a California measure that would have forced honest packaging.
We may need to wait and see just how bad GMO plants actually are, but we can immediately spot the evils of lab-designed animals. Genetically-modified chickens, bred for size, are now so obese that at a few weeks old they become crippled under their own weight. Plagued by symptoms of out-of-control obesity, they suffer organ failure and respiratory problems. They also contain higher levels of arsenic, which is toxic to consumers. and are pumped up with hormones that may be contributing to obesity in our own human communities.
So if those modified corn flakes still make your mouth water, go ahead and fill your bowl. But if you don’t want GMOs to be the future of food as we know it, go organic. And demand the right to know what’s in your meal. The government enforced labeling in Europe, and voila! GMOs were replaced with real food. We can be next if we choose not to let corporations dictate our diets.
Featured image by BASF – The Chemical Company