And by that I mean that GM also stands for Genetically Modified. Genetically Modified foods or GMO’s have become extremely popular in recent years and have been making a big splash with the media, but what are they?
I turned Food and Water Watch, a watchdog organization, to help me explain the complex web of issues associated with Genetically Modified Organisms. The practice of modifying foods began in the early 1990’s. The intended purpose of this practice is to design crops to better suit their consumers (us) by making them taller, bigger, tastier and with specialized traits to be bug, weed, cold and disease resistant. For example, too many weeds bothering your crops? Add a gene to repel weeds! This is exactly what the producers of Roundup, a popular herbicide, did with their line of seeds that are weed resistant. The range of altered foods has expanded in recent years with no sign of slowing. The most commonly modified crops include tomatoes, corn, wheat, potatoes, and soybeans. The Obama Administration and the USDA have approved a unprecedented wave of GMO crops which now has expanded to include the modification of animals. The point of me telling you this is because genetically modified foods appear in our everyday foods without our knowledge. We consume these experimental foods on a daily basis and honestly it scares me. It makes me feel like I am part of a science experiment and I do not appreciate it.
The most recent media attention has been given to the issue of genetically modified salmon. These genetically modified salmon are engineered to grow twice as fast as normal salmon so they can be sold and consumed faster. There is a lot of surrounding uncertainty as to the safety of eating these fish. The FDA has been accused of not adequately testing the effects of eating GM animals on the human body. The FDA has apparently has also declined to do its own safety testing, largely relying on the studies of companies producing these products… a little suspicious… It is unclear how eating massive amounts of genetically altered foods will affect the human body in the long run. Also, there is the question of what will happen if these genetically modified organisms escape into the wild. With regard to GM salmon, if they were to escape from the fish farms where they are bred and mix with their natural counterparts, the consequences are unknown.
Genetically Modified foods have their pros and cons as with any issue. The pro that cannot be ignored is the potential that GM crops have to feed people here in America and around the world. These GM varieties have already been introduced into developing countries or countries with difficult growing conditions and have managed to feed the hungry. The possibilities are endless. Here is my problem: I would like to have the CHOICE to eat or not eat genetically modified foods. But there is currently no regulation forcing GM companies to label their products as modified… because no one would buy them if they knew. I personally have a problem with eating foods that have been altered, especially animal products. These products are already pumped full of hormones and other unknowns and enough is enough. It really freaks me out that I am eating something that may not be safe and I would never even know it.