Genetically Modified Organisms

usda organiic and Non GMO labelsby Abigail Hill, Sustainable Plant Systems Agronomy major

In today’s world, there is budding curiosity and stigma around genetically modified organisms.  The labels above have crept their way into grocery stores shelves and into the minds of the concerned public. The nonGMO and Organic industries have presented genetically modified foods as dangerous to the public. The public is led to believe that genetically modified organisms are dangerous and unhealthy options. Mothers are concerned for the health and wellbeing of their children. But, are nonGMO and organic options truly better for you? In today’s world, there is budding curiosity and stigma around genetically modified organisms.  The labels above have crept their way into grocery stores shelves and into the minds of the concerned public. The nonGMO and Organic industries have presented genetically modified foods as dangerous to the public. The public is led to believe that genetically modified organisms are dangerous and unhealthy options. Mothers are concerned for the health and wellbeing of their children. But, are nonGMO and organic options truly better for you?

1. Genetically Modified Organisms have been around for centuries

The first forms of genetic modification started as “selective breeding” and “artificial selection” in animals as well as early plant varieties. For example, modern dog breeds were developed through the selective breeding of wolves and their offspring. Through trials of breeding and crossings, that took hundreds of years, the multitude of modern dog breed varieties were developed.

2. Genetically Modified Organisms are in foods that no one suspects

By selective breeding and genetically modifying plants in the early ages, we have manipulated these in-edible plants into the fruits and vegetables we know today. For example, the banana used to be full of seeds. It was bred to produce more fruit and no seeds. Another example would be seedless grapes, modern watermelon, and my previous example of corn. According to the Ohio State University Extension, about 80-95% of today’s cotton, corn, and soybeans are genetically engineered. These crops have been modified to increase insect resistance and herbicide tolerance. The benefits from these modifications include less insect and herbicide damage, increasing potential yield. According to the Ohio State University Extension, about 80-95% of today’s cotton, corn, and soybeans are genetically engineered. These crops have been modified to increase insect resistance and herbicide tolerance. The benefits from these modifications include less insect and herbicide damage, increasing potential yield.

3. Are nonGMO and organic foods healthier?

According to the Ohio State University Extension, about 80-95% of today’s cotton, corn, and soybeans are genetically engineered. These crops have been modified to increase insect resistance and herbicide tolerance. The benefits from these modifications include less insect and herbicide damage, increasing potential yield.

4. Animals have been genetically modified

GMO’s to create breeds and target specific traits in animals. For example, race horses have been bred from the regular horse.  The genes selected to make the racehorse we know today are higher muscle content and speed. By choosing the traits that are desired, we are able to develop an animal with traits that will fit our needs and desires.  Another concern from the public, is not only the animals being modified, but also the animals consuming the modified foods. The majority of livestock consume a diet of corn, soybeans, and hay or grass. Corn and soybeans are two of the most widely genetically modified crops. The European Union published a separate study to examine the health of the animals consuming feeds containing genetically modified crops. The study examined one-hundred billion animals examined after eating genetically modified crops. This took place over twenty-five years of research. They found “no unfavorable trends in livestock health and productivity. In fact, during the period studied, animal health and growth efficiency actually improved.”

Conclusion

The thorough studies of the European Union concluded that there are no substantial differences between genetically modified and nonGMO crops in terms of food safety or environmental impacts. They also concluded that GMOs are no more risky than conventional plant breeding technologies. The process of engineering crops and animals is not a new idea, and has been put into practice for hundreds of years. It is one’s own personal opinion on what they decide to put into their bodies.

About the Author

Abigail Hill is a student at The Ohio State University, majoring in Sustainable Plant Systems: Agronomy, with a minor in Agricultural Systems Management. She is the Vice President of the Ducks Unlimited club on campus. She was born and raised on a family farm in central Ohio.  She was as an Ohio State Extension Intern in Pickaway and Madison Counties.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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