The 411 on GMOs

Okay, so talking about food, GMOs are bound to enter the conversation. Honestly, After reading Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, I am terrified of any genetically engineered anything even medicine! But, since we live in the real world, not her very scary realistic future world, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about GMOs.

What are GMOs?

GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms and can mean anything whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering. When talking about food, this can mean a type of food organism that has been altered to produce longer yields, drought resistance, more nutrients, or resistance to diseases.

Who uses GM foods?

In Canada, according to Greenpeace, seventy per cent of processed foods in grocery stores contain or may contain GE ingredients.

Why there is resistance to it?

GMOs and their techniques are still highly experimental and fail to take into account the incredibly delicate and complex relationship of genes to organisms and organisms to the environment, says Greenpeace

Why are they good? According to Non-GMO Project:

  • Are an extension of natural breeding and do not pose different risks from naturally bred crops
  • Are safe to eat and can be more nutritious than naturally bred crops
  • Are strictly regulated for safety
  • Increase crop yields
  • Reduce pesticide use
  • Benefit farmers and make their lives easier
  • Bring economic benefits
  • Benefit the environment
  • Can help solve problems caused by climate change
  • Reduce energy use
  • Will help feed the world

Why are they bad? According to Non-GMO Project:

  • Genetically Engineered crops can have loss of biodiversity.
  • Potentially harmful effects of GE organisms may only be discovered when it is too late
  • Corporations are producing sterile terminator seeds
  • Are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods,
  • and pose different risks from non-GM crops
  • Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
  • Are not adequately regulated to ensure safety
  • Do not increase yield potential
  • Do not reduce pesticide use but increase it
  • Create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant “superweeds”, compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops
  • Have mixed economic effects
  • Harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity
  • Do not offer effective solutions to climate change
  • Are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops
  • Cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on.

It is a complicated ethical question. So are you GMO foodies, or are you opposed?

Tweet me your thoughts @OliviaRutt or comment below!

If you want to learn more about Greenpeace’s GMO campaign go HERE

If you want to learn about Non-GMO Project go HERE

And you can download the Canadian GMO fact sheet from them HERE

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