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Did you know there are GMOs in nearly every prepared food at the grocery store? GMOs (short for genetically modified organisms) are living organisms whose DNA has been altered in a non-natural way, usually to be insect or virus resistant, or tolerant to herbicide, a substance that is usually toxic to plants. Cheaper to grow and producing larger crops, genetically modifying foods seems like a good idea. However, they have been proven not only to be bad for the environment, but dangerous to consumer's health. Most Americans are unaware of GMOs and continue to buy and eat processed foods containing GM ingredients. Genetically modified foods should no longer be grown or sold for human consumption.
First of all, GM foods have never been tested or proven safe to eat. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) states, “GM foods have not been properly tested” and “pose a serious health risk.” The Food and Drug Administration does not require safety testing on GMOs either. According to scientist at the FDA, GM foods are “substantively different” from food grown naturally, so much so that their consumption could result in unpredictable and hard-to-detect allergens, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems. The pesticide called Bt (produced from soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis) is supposed to be safe to use since organic farmers use it to control insects naturally. However, the Bt-toxin is much more toxic once the gene is inserted into GM plants, and thousands of sheep allowed to graze on Bt cotton died because of this toxin. Several animal studies by the AAEM have shown serious health risks connected with GM foods such as immune problems, accelerated aging, infertility, insulin regulation, and changes in stomach, intestines, and other major organs. The only human GM feeding study ever published revealed that the foreign gene inserted into GM soy can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside the intestines and keep functioning, basically turning our intestinal bacteria into “living pesticide factories.” GM foods are not safe for anyone, human or animal, to eat and should be avoided at all costs.
In addition to being unhealthy for humans and animals, GM crops also have a harmful impact on the environment. Most GM crops are altered in a way that gives them their own built-in pesticide to kill bugs that could destroy them. Yet, bees and butterflies also fall victim to the poison. Bees are essential in pollinating many food crops, but are becoming extremely endangered because of modern agricultural techniques, like GM crops. Monarch butterflies are at risk specifically from GMO corn plants. Toxins released into the soil via the plants' roots cause fewer soil bacteria that are necessary for healthy soil and growing plants without using chemical fertilizer. The soil is becoming dry and void of all nutrients integral to the growing process. Furthermore, the irrigation used to grow GM foods naturally exposes insects, animals, and bacteria to the same problems by polluting the water and air. The negative effects GMOs have on the environment is clearly tremendous.
Meanwhile, others believe that genetically modifying foods will create bigger, better crops with less cost. Food that can be engineered to be resistant to pests will reduce the amount of toxic chemical pesticides applied to plants and crops, and create more resilient crops. Through genetic modification, scientist have even discovered ways to introduce vitamin A into rice to create “golden rice” that could help prevent blindness in millions of poor children. While these examples are certainly beneficial, they do not outweigh the negative repercussions brought on by genetic modification. All in all, humans, animals and the environment they share would benefit without GMOs.
To conclude, it is important that the genetic modification of our foods does not continue any longer. Plants and humans alike endure the side effects of crops grown through modification, and it cannot continue. Animals, too, are unwittingly risking their lives by feeding on these crops. Never has there been a safety test on GMOs to show their reliability. On the contrary, GMOs have proven extremely unfit to be consumed by anyone. Yet, somehow, they are mixed into packaged foods sitting on the grocery shelf right now. If something is not done soon, then humans, animals, plants, and even the whole ecosystem will suffer the consequences.