Are You Afraid of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)?
November 4, 2014 56 Comments
I have chosen to be silent on this issue for a variety of reasons.
I like Snack-Girl.com to remain peaceful and friendly. The topic of GMOs tends to make people frustrated, fearful, and argumentative. I hope we can remain respectful of each other’s opinions.
Another reason my lips have been sealed is that I am a trained biologist in the field of genetics. I have actually genetically modified bacteria in a laboratory as part of my job. Obviously, if I thought it was an evil thing to do, I wouldn’t have done it.
There may be a bunch of political and economic reasons to be against GMOs but I want to talk about food safety and whether the label “Non-GMO” is important to your health.
Probably all of the food you eat is genetically modified.
Almost all of the animals and plants used for food have been genetically modified by humans. We chose to breed apples that are bigger, cows that produce more milk, and wheat that produces many pounds per acre. Selective breeding has been going on since before recorded history.
But, this wouldn't be the "FrankenFoods" that everyone is afraid of (or we would all starve to death).
Genetically modified organisms (as defined by the labels on food), are plants or animals that have their genome altered by a modern technology (versus selective breeding). These techniques started in the 1970’s – much after the start of recorded history.
The reasons for using molecular techniques in crops are varied. Reducing pesticide use, increasing yield, drought resistance, and adding nutrients (such as adding vitamin A to rice) are all reasons scientists add or delete genes.
What do these genetic changes mean to your health? I would argue that since the genetic material moves through your gut (acid, acid, acid) - it would never make it into your cells (altering you). You digest it into wee particles that cannot hurt you.
From Scientific American:
….people have consumed as many as trillions of meals containing genetically modified ingredients over the past few decades. Not a single verified case of illness has ever been attributed to the genetic alterations.
Of course, maybe there have been unverified cases but I think there are much more SCARY and pressing issues than GMO’s in our food system.
What do I think is cause for concern? E. Coli tainted food is a big fear of mine. I cook my meat to the correct temperatures and stay away from steam tables at cut-rate buffets. I wash my vegetables, my cutting boards, and my hands.
Yes, I am afraid of antibiotic resistant E. Coli (10-20 thousand cases per year) and if you are not taking precautions against this potentially deadly bacterium – you should (CDC recommendations for prevention of E. Coli infection).
I do agree that genetically altering a plant or animal sounds like "playing God". But, the results are nothing to fear.
What do you think of GMOs? Do you avoid them?
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Brian G. Booton
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