Last Updated on March 11, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
We are all interested in developing healthy diets. GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms which typically is a plant but also exhibit some property of microorganisms. These are the plants whose genes are genetically engineered in laboratories to develop desirable plants with expected traits.
GMOs do not occur in nature and hence are modified in the labs. Whether GMOs are good or bad still remains a topic of debate but there has been a lot of controversy around the production of GMOs.
It was in 1982 when the first GMO was invented when scientists genetically engineered a tomato according to the USDA Report (United States Department of Agriculture). In 1985 USDA approved the genetically engineered product but was not allowed for commercial production until 1996.
It’s a known fact that more than 90% of the corn and soy produced in the US are GMO most of which are fed to livestock in the farming industry.
Pros of GMOs
1. Resistant to any form of damage
Genetically modified plants (or organisms) are resistant to pesticides and insects. They are even made to easily resist frost and extreme weather conditions. Farmers find it safe and easy to grow GMOs as they have very low chances of getting damaged.
2. Proven Safe Through Testing
GMOs are researched, developed and tested in the labs before producing it to be consumed. These food items are approved by the FDA to be produced commercially and are labelled as edible by humans or animals. That way it’s, even safer to consume GM food than those which grow naturally, they are at least tested.
3. Technology in Food ensures Safety
The leap of advancement in technological success has made the food items we consume less risky as long as it’s done with wise intentions.
4. Environmental Benefits
Only those food can be produced with GMOs that pose no threat to the environment. A greener way of mass production can be adapted to fulfil the food demand of the world. Furthermore, GMO requires less use of pesticides which are not environment-friendly.
5. Ease of Production
Because these are all tested in the laboratories, the process to grow these crops are already there for farmers to learn. Furthermore, it does not typically require a specific weather condition to grow. It can be grown in challenging or adverse environments as well.
6. Less Use of Pesticides
Being Genetically Modified gives the advantage of being free from the attacks of insects and thus the use of pesticides is very minimal. This adds up to the advantage of less cultivation cost for the producers.
7. Added nutritions otherwise not available
During the testing and the experiment of GM food, scientists carefully observe the required nutrients to the human body and those nutrients can be yielded from the GM plants that we require to be fit and healthy. Moreover, flavour enhancement can also be done.
8. Increased Food Yields
Looking at the current growth rate of population, the available land to grow crops is not likely to be enough for the number of people who will be living on the planet 25 years from now. GM food cultivation practice can nullify that issue by producing a bigger volume of food keeping the same cost structure.
9. Easy Distribution
According to a study, the total food produced or cultivated is more than 15% that is actually required to feed the entire population of the planet. Which means the food is not being used wisely.
Food waste has become a vital problem where those who can afford are wasting them and the poor are starving to death. Even it is shipped to the places where the food is scarce, they get spoiled.
GMO food can be made less perishable and shipped to locations where they are actually required to feed the poor or to the location where production is somehow not happening.
10. Standard Set for Food
Since the FDA has a set standard for all GMOs, they meet the requirement and are proven to be safe and standard for consumption.
11. Food for all
Access to good food can be increased with GMOs as the production and distribution cost can be optimized. Since the production cost is less, it is less expensive and thus also can be afforded by the poor population.
Cons of GMOs
12. GMOs could be prone to long term diseases
Some study suggests that GMO are linked with the production of cancer cells in the human body. There is a school of thought that plants are to be consumed as they are in nature and not otherwise engineered in the laboratories support this research and is widely followed in many parts of the world.
During the test and research phase of genetically modifying a plant, it is often incorporated with genes that are antibiotic resistant to make the crop more healthy and strong. It is believed that doing so would help in the formation of bacteria that are antibiotic resistant.
14. Engineered food can be toxic to humans
Different human react to different stimuli or chemicals. One person can easily digest food that is indigestible to another.
Similarly, some genes that are added in the GMOs can be non-toxic to some while it can be a matter of life and death to others. This risk is always there with GMOs.
15. GM food items are prone to allergic reactions
With every passing year, the amount of food we consume is more genetically modified than it is naturally grown and organic. That means we are consuming more artificial substances with are food we eat on a daily basis.
A study reveals that the allergies in the human body, especially in children, have increased from 3.4% to 5.1% in the last decade which can be attributed to the increased consumption of GM food.