Source: http://cdn.modernfarmer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/gmo-hero.jpg

Throughout the years there has been an uprising of concerns in the public regarding Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). GMOs is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal according to the Institute for Responsible Technology (2003). These concerns vary from market to health to environmental issues. “It has been estimated that upwards of 75% of processed foods on supermarket shelves – from soda to soup, crackers to condiments – contain genetically engineered ingredients”  (Center for Food Safety 2017).

Concerns

Due to these concerns several states have voted to enact mandatory labeling of Genetically Modified foods in the market. On July 29th, 2016 President Obama signed a federal law that void all states to have all foods be required to identify if they contain GMOs. Some opponents think this information is unnecessary because there has not yet to be any scientific evidence of negative health effects upon the consumption of Genetically Modified foods. Therefore having foods be required to have a label containing whether they are genetically modified may mislead ignorant consumers regarding the safety of the merchandise, but in contrast consumers have the right to know whether or not the food they eat contain GMOs. This has the potential to be a problem in the marketplace because consumers will ultimately reject the Genetically Modified foods developing a withdraw from the market. Noussair et al reported that in France, a country with strict rules on GMOs, consumers did not notice GMO labels (2002). Only when the labels were highlighted consumers began to buy less of Genetically Modified foods, but given a discount the consumers were still willing to buy them. This research was also founded in the Netherlands where consumer preferences did not change when the labels were brought into the market. In conclusion “… introducing GMO labels may shift some consumer preferences, that does not mean that retailers cannot respond with the own actions. Ultimately, the introduction of labels may have low impact on the market share for GMO and GMO free foods” (Joshua Berning and Ben Campbell 2017).

Health has been the biggest concern of GMOs when they were brought about. Consumers were concerned about GMOs may cause organ toxicity, effects on offspring and DNA, or other adverse health effects. These concerns were brought about due to people falsely reporting toxic effects caused by GMOs. “They claimed the process of making the GMO caused it to be toxic and thus all GMOs were high risk for toxicity” (Megan L. Norris 2015). Multiple groups of scientists across the United States have done experiments on rats daily consumption of Genetically Modified Foods. One example would be the National Institute of Toxicological Research in Seoul, Korea. They fed rats diets containing either GMO potato or non-GMO potato for both male and female rats. They thoroughly examined each rat’s diet by doing histopathological examinations. A histopathological examination is a microscopic examination of biological tissues to observe the appearance of disease cells and tissues (IvyRose Holistic 2003-16). Though found no differences between GMO-eating and non-GMO-eating animals. Another group from South Dakota State University did studies on rats daily consumption of BT corn instead. “Bt stands for Bacillus thuringiensis, a microbe that produces insecticidal endotoxin and has been used as a topical pesticide against insects since 1961” (Megan L. Norris 2015). This group of scientists observed GMO-eating rats not only for the lifetime of one generation, but three generations after. For every generation, they tracked the fertility of parent rats and compared the health of the eggs from parents that ate Bt corn to those with parents that did not. Still finding no possible signs of toxicity in GMOs, as well as another scientific group from the National Laboratory of Protein Engineering and Plant Genetic Engineering in Beijing, China. They observed two plant species, tomatoes and corn. They researched modified DNA and unmodified DNA using the Ames test. The Ames test is a method using bacteria to test whether a given chemical can cause mutations in the DNA of an organism (Wikipedia 2016). The bacteria they used in their tests was the cucumber mosaic virus, the most infectious virus of any known plant virus. The results of this test revealed no relationship between GMO tomatoes or corn and mutations.

    The 4 environmental concerns according to the article “GMOs:Non-Health Issues” are: evolution of herbicide-tolerant and pesticide-tolerant plants and animals, transmission of genes from GM crops to wild weedy relatives and to conventional crops, increased use of herbicides and pesticides, and direct and indirect effects on other species and ecosystems (2016). One environmental effect due to the increased use of herbicide in genetically modified crops is the evolution of herbicide-tolerant and pesticide-tolerant plants and animals. In some ways this can be seen as a positive effect of GMOs because plants and animals can handle the harsh chemicals. The second environmental effect is the transmission of genes from GM crops to wild weedy relatives and to conventional crops. This is a benefit to weeds because they are able to survive longer and withstand certain aspects like the herbicides. The third environmental effect is increased use of herbicides and pesticides. This can be a potentially negative effect according to Jennifer Hsaio, she says, “Potential effects include cancer and damage to the nervous, endocrine, and reproductive systems” (Jennifer Hsaio 2015). In some ways though, they might not be. People use pesticides around around their home, and even on their skin without causing harm to themselves. The last environmental effect GMOs has is direct and indirect effects on other species and ecosystems. This effect is negative and positive because it affects one species in a helpful way and the other in a harmful way. The species that is affected in a good way is AquAdvantage salmon. They have been modified to grow at a faster rate, allowing them to be brought to market more quickly. The species that is affected in a harmful way is Monarch butterflies. There is some laboratory evidence that Bt corn harms them (Losey, Rayor, and Carter 1999) but no field evidence (Sears et al. 2001).

Positive Effects

Though GMOs are looked upon as a negative subject because these concerns listed above, there are positive effects as well. Some positive effects include effects on AquAdvantage Salmon. This is a positive effect because the AquAdvantage Salmon have been modified to grow approximately twice as fast and allowing them to be brought into market faster. Second, consumers are able to save money due to the expense of GMO free foods. Third, plants and animals are more resistance. This is considered a positive effect because plants and animals are able to survive adverse environmental conditions. Last, merchandise can be reproduced in more quantity and at higher quality. This is considered a positive effect due to the populations massive increase non-GMO foods can’t keep up with rate of population growth.

Negative Effects

    It is obvious that are negative effects to GMOs though. Some of them include Controlling the risks to natural environments and to human life. GMOs aren’t natural therefore oppose an effect on. Second, potential health risks. No would consider possible health effects to be a positive affect. Third, possible impacts on populations of species that depend on survival or reproduction on the pests controlled areas. This is a potential problem because even though animals and plants have gained resistance in the controlled areas if they were to escape into the wild harm would come about. Fourth, increased spraying of pesticides that has led to a loss of habitat for Monarch butterflies and contributed to a major decline in the size of their populations. The declination of the Monarch Butterfly habitat can lead to mass extinction. Last, corn seeds are coated with pesticides therefore has been an affect on bee reproduction. This is a problem because certain this species has a huge impact our planet because bees pollinate plants, thus giving us food to eat.

    In conclusion, “After more than 20 years of monitoring by countries and researchers around the world, many of the suspicions surrounding the effects of GMOs on organ health, our offspring, and our DNA have been addressed and tested. In the data discussed above, alongside many more studies not mentioned here, GMOs have been found to exhibit no toxicity, in one generation or across many. Though each new product will require careful analysis and assessment of safety, it appears that GMOs as a class are no more likely to be harmful than traditionally bred and grown food sources” (Megan L. Norris).

Works Cited

Berning, Joshua, and Ben Campbell. “Consumer Preference and Market Simulations of Food and Non-Food GMO Introductions.” 2017 Annual Meeting, February 4-7, 2017, Mobile, Alabama. No. 252733. Southern Agricultural Economics Association, 2017. http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/252733/2/paper-GMO%20market%20share%201%2018%2017.pdf

Hicks, Daniel, and Roberta L. Millstein. “GMOs: Non-Health Issues.” Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics (2016) http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/12486/

Hsaio, Jennifer, and Krissy Lion. “GMOs and Pesticides: Helpful or Harmful?.” Science in the News (2015). http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/gmos-and-pesticides/

Norris, Megan L. “Will GMOs Hurt My Body? The Public’s Concerns and How Scientists Have Addressed Them.” http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/will-gmos-hurt-my-body/

Oguz, Ozdemir. “Attitudes of consumers toward the effects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs): The example of Turkey.” Journal of food, agriculture & environment 7.3&4 (2009): 159-165. http://www.world-food.net/download/journals/2009-issue_3_4/31.pdf