While this issue is not all that well known, it effects every single person that grows their own food or buy their food from local farmers. GMO stands for genetically mutated organisms and these organisms produced genetically modified foods. This stems from altering genes in order to produce plants/animals that have a more favorable genetic make up. This results in having chickens that have more meat, can produce more eggs or plants that are pesticide resistant or bear more fruit.
From a business perspective, efficiency is increased as costs are reduced and profit margins are maximized. Unfortunately, this may come at the expense consumers. Despite no long term health studies on the effects of GMOs on humans has been conducted, President Obama recently signed a bill that would protect GMO producers without fear of the law (for 1 year). This is quite startling as even though they are unproven, they are being allowed to be produced.
For one thing, food allergies could arise to be a very large problem. Allergies result from an immune response to a protein. Due to the fact that manipulating DNA, and subsequently proteins through “combining” proteins of another food. This food could cause allergic reactions and thus spread this particular gene behavior into foods where there were not any allergic reactions. For example, a team led by University of Nebraska scientists found that a Brazil nut protein introduced to improve the nutritional quality of GM soybeans was able to provoke an allergic reaction in people with Brazil nut allergies.
This can be solved by doing safety testing before the products hits the market. However, the U.S. government does not require this. Another issue is the passing on of modified genes to bacteria, which could create antibiotic resistant bacteria. This could ravage the world’s crop supply and lead to infections that can not be stopped in humans.
The nutritional value of these foods is also called into question. Over the next few weeks, I will be showing ways to combat GMOs, from careful shopping to producing your own products.