GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are crops or animals that have had their genes modified in the lab to yield more and to resist diseases. GMOs have been the subject of debate for years among scientists and the general population. While some have held onto the belief that gene modification is harmful, others find no problem with it.
Are GMOs Safe for Human Use?
Proponents of biotechnology view GMOs to be safe, both to the environment and as food for human consumption. Results from a study by a group of scientists that took ten years found no evidence that GMOs posed a risk to health. The WHO doesn’t, in its guidelines, oppose the use of genetic engineering to produce food. According to the American Medical Association, for over 20 years, no case of harm as a result of consuming GMO products has been reported.
Modifying genes is not an entirely new concept. It has naturally happened since the appearance of plants and animals on earth. It continues to happen even today as nature tries to improve existing plants and animals. What scientists who produce GMOs are doing is speed up the mutation of genes and drive it to their preference. It’s much like making a change that would take some several thousand years to happen in a day. Farmers, too, do it all the time when they cross breed crops or animals to produce better yielding varieties and breeds. People who embrace GMO technology believe that the same way natural mutation of genes doesn’t cause any harm, GMOs wouldn’t either.
Furthermore, people ingest genes daily in the food they eat. The genes don’t cause any harm. These are the same genes that one would eat when consuming genetically modified crop products. And, for the genes to have the capability to alter yours, they would need to be exact in structure to yours, which is impossible, especially with plant genes.
What About The Impact of GMOs on The Environment?
People opposed to genetically modified crops claim that they’re capable producing super weeds, viruses, or super pests. That because the crops are better in resisting harmful organisms, which could cause the weeds, bacteria, and viruses to mutate to adapt to the new environment. It’s this mutation that people against GMOs feel could turn against the environment, when weeds that cannot be eliminated by normal herbicides start to appear, or crop and animal diseases that don’t respond to existing drugs.
While this fear is currently just a hypothesis, scientists believe it should be taken seriously, and research into it conducted to avert such a catastrophe from happening. It would take many years, though, for such scary weeds and bugs to appear because the natural mutation is way too slow.
Most scientists view GMOs to be generally safe since no evidence of harm is yet to be documented. GMOs could be the answer to the growing threat to the world’s food security. Crops and animals with genes that have been modified produce more and survive nature’s threats like diseases better. And, despite the controversy with them, their production keeps increasing the world over. In fact, crop and animal products in most developed countries are as high as 80% GMO.