[Note from the instructor: “With GMOs in the news, and a big topic for Hawaii especially, I have my class writing a couple of essays and research papers on whether labeling GMO products should be required. The first essay is on ‘reasons for requiring labeling of foods with GMO ingredients.’ The final submissions are students’ research papers examining what research appears to show about GMOs and proposals for labeling foods with GMO ingredients.” -Danny Wyatt]
“They got bad science down to a science,” according to Jeffrey M. Smith, the director of the video “Genetic Roulette,” and founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology. Companies such as Monsanto have their own group of scientists that come up with conclusions that say their products are safe. Back when Monsanto was not so widespread, they still had a deep dark history. It’s important to remember that back in 1901 Monsanto was first founded by John Francis Queeney, “a man in the wholesale drug industry,” later in the 1920s he expanded his business to produce a product line that consisted of “sedatives, laxatives and aspirin” (“Monsanto: A Corporate…” 3). Furthermore, Monsanto is most popular for their herbicide product Roundup. Moving on, for many years, most Americans have been ignorant about the dangerous effects genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may have on them. Since the past 17 years when GMOs were first introduced to the U.S market, back in 1996 (“Monsanto: A Corporate…” 7) most Americans are still left uneducated about the real hazards; GMOs may have not only damaging humans, but the entire world as well. Genetically modified organisms are really simply self-explanatory; they are when scientists take a specific gene trait from one organism and forcefully insert it into another, which is then altering that original organism from being normal. The entire process may seem unusual to people because it is. For instance, scientists have taken an anti-freeze gene from fish and forcefully stuck it into strawberries; moreover, strawberries now do not freeze if the temperature drops below freezing during the growing season. Therefore, while certainly helpful to the grower, GM foods are far from being normal. In addition, according to Jeffrey M Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology, scientists “have taken human genes and put it into corn, so corn now has spermicide” (Smith). Unfortunately, Americans are being deceived by thinking these products they are consuming and feeding to their children are safe.
People in the U.S are already at a disadvantage from big time food manufacturers by just living here. According to Marty Kaplan in her article, “Being American is bad for Your Health,” America has the worst health and highest death rates compared to citizens in the other 17 wealthiest nations that made GMO labeling a strict requirement. Most of the developing world already requires labeling GMO foods, countries such as Australia, China, France, Italy, UK, Germany, Brazil, South Korea, Poland, and Russia just to name a few. What do these countries know that the U.S itself does not? Why is America not labeling its food? It makes perfect sense that since America is the major producer of GMOs, it should be labeling as well if it is the one making it? Everyone needs to stand up for what they believe in. Food manufactures is treating humans as their scientific experiment. As a result of these actions, the numbers of illnesses that have been occurring are currently doubling (Smith). Consequently, without the labeling GMOs foods, these illness and diseases America battles every day, every week, every month, and every year are not going to be decreasing anytime soon with GMOs around. On the contrary, if people were informed and educated about the dangers in the foods they are putting into their bodies; Americans will realize their eating habits could be killing them. Moreover, they will be able to make better decisions about what products they would like to consume if there were a requirement for labeling of GMO foods. GMOs need to be labeled for more than just health concerns, but environmental dangers and consumer rights as well.
By consuming genetically modified organisms, consumers are making both themselves and their offspring vulnerable to the harmful internal health problems that may frequently occur from eating these foods. Health issues appear to be inevitable when people consume these GMO products. For example, in the video “Genetic Roulette,” Martha Grout, Medical Director of the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine says that from “1996, when GMO crops corn and soy were introduced into the American diet, there has been a serious increase in inflammation and digestive disorders.” Therefore, GMOs might not stop at the stomach; they may possibly cause serious side effects that could be genetically passed down through generations such as “allergies, obesity, infertility, eczema, pneumonia,” and many other health issues.
Consequently, when physicians recommend a non-GMO diet to their patients’, they see a significant change in their patients’ health. In addition, GMOs pose a more serious danger to children than adults. Specifically, scientific studies tie “Andres Carassco, who is head of the molecular Embryology Lab at the University of Buenos Aires ties glyphosate, which is an active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, to birth defects, infertility and sperm destruction” (Huff 1). Children have also been shown to be more sensitive to GMOs and it has been documented to cause birth defects. Also demanding attention are the overwhelming effects GM crops have on the environment. One of the reasons GMO crops exist is to reduce the use of herbicides. The article “Update: GMOs in Foods,” demonstrates otherwise. For example, evidence shows that at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, GM crops have actually increased the amount of toxic herbicides used on crops (Ruhs 6). The Institute for Responsible Technology reports that,
between 1996 and 2008, US farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds of herbicide on GMOs. The overuse of Roundup results in “super weeds,” resistant to the herbicide. This is causing farmers to use even more toxic herbicides every year. Not only does this create environmental harm, but GM foods contain higher residues of toxic herbicides. Roundup, for example, is linked with sterility, hormone disruption, birth defects, and cancer (Smith).
Therefore, GM crops are among the biggest contributors to damaging the environment.
Another serious threat GM crops pose is from the abundance of pesticides and herbicides; GM crops will inevitably destroy nature’s ecosystem. In other words, the herbicides and pesticides used in these crops might wipe out insects that are a part of a crucial role to nature’s balance. As indicated in “Update: GMOs in Foods”, bees are beneficial to the environment for pollination. Therefore, technology is not the only factor to agriculture’s future. In a recent article released through CommonDreams; Michael McCarthy reports that, “the fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.” Beekeepers recently have been noticing an incredible reduction on their bees’ (Andrew). What could be killing these honey bees? As a consequence, if the world does not figure out what is the cause of the bee’s disappearance, then getting the crops most of world depends on is going to be a major problem.
Americans deserve the right to be aware about the foods they are consuming. Therefore, foods that contain GM ingredients must be labeled. A positive aspect to labeling products that have genetically modified ingredients inside them is it will give people options to choose if they want to continue to eat GMOs or not. Americans can make their own decisions rather than have someone else making those decisions for them such as the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, which is supposed to ensure the safety of food. In addition, the United States of America cannot say that labeling products with GMO is unheard of because more than sixty other countries are already doing it. For example, countries like Australia, China, and Europe have already made this a requirement (Smith). What is the U.S. so afraid of? Why is this country so resistant to simply adding three more letters to the ingredient list on products? What is these industries hiding from Americans?
The biggest defenders against labeling GMOs are companies such as Monsanto stating that their GMO crops are “equal to its counterparts”, meaning their GMO crops are equal to natural crops and they are safe for consumption (“Monsanto”). The Monsanto website conveys their answer about the safety of their GMO crops: “There has not been a single substantiated instance of illness or harm associated with GMO crops.” This may have been true until recently when the article, “Study Finds Tumors in Rats Fed Monsanto GMO Corn,” was released on September 19, 2012. This article may possibly confirm that food containing GMOs are not safe for anyone to be consuming. This peer-review study by of a group of scientists that conduct a series of tests to find results. In addition, the study is not influenced by anyone outside. The article reports, “Rats on a GMO diet developed mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage.” Also, “rats fed on a diet containing NK603, a soy variety made tolerant to Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, or given water with Roundup at levels permitted in the United States, died earlier than those on a standard diet.” Despite the study not being conducted on humans, it does not lack impact because it was adequately tested for long-term effects on the rats. There has been no previous evidence of GMO foods having negative health risks to humans; at last, the world finally has an idea of how dangerous GMOs appear to be.
In addition, Children have also been shown to be more sensitive to GMOs that have been documented to cause birth defects. Specifically, a scientific study shows that, “Andres Carassco, find glyphosate, which is an active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide,” may cause inability to conceive and birth disorders (Huff 1). Overall, this revealing evidence about the real dangers GMO crops have on both animals and humans informs consumers that maybe the best option to avoiding these products is labeling GMO’s.
Proceeding on, health risks may not stop at rats and children. According to Doris Rapp, MD an Environmental Medical Specialist and Pediatric Allergist and author, in “Genetic Roulette” points out that GM food “will cause disaster in time.” GMOs will continue to haunt Americans everyday of their lives. These foods are like a disease waiting to happen. The first phase is when a newborn reaches one year old and is done with drinking baby formula that contains GMO soybeans. The children move on to GMO whole milk and a new window of opportunity for GMOs to creep in their lives and destroy them from the inside out is not far from reach.
“The main purposes for GE crops were supposed to help solve the issue of world hunger” (Monsanto). However, arguments are being made whether using GE crops are an effective way to solve that problem. Findings may have made it clear that instead of making the world not hungry anymore, biotechnology may be actually turning the world into a place of very sick and unhealthy people. According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, “the Bt in GM crops is designed to be more toxic than the natural spray and is thousands of times more concentrated.” This is basically laying it out and proving that GE crops are not substantially equivalent to natural crops because non GMO crops are not being oversprayed with harmful herbicides.
Not only are GMOs bad for people’s health, they are also very bad for the environment. To begin with, engineering crops may become weeds themselves, which will potentially harm other beneficial plants (Mellon and Rissler). Then, engineering crops could possibly produce viruses and start a completely new hybrid virus, which in turn could cause more dangerous viruses (Mellon and Rissler). Thirdly, the engineered plants could cause harm to the animals that eat them, such as cows, or “birds or deer,” (Mellon and Rissler). Lastly, the new viruses and weeds coming about can and will affect our ecosystem in a way that will make it unpredictable as to what will happen in time. Not only are these problems that could happen in time, some may be happening right now. According to “Environmental effects of genetically modified food crops” by Margaret Mellon, monarch butterflies are beginning to die off due to the increase of herbicides used on the weed plant monarch butterflies rely on.
In brief, allowing GMO agribusinesses the ability and power to control the entire food supply for the world is equivalent to giving a child permission to drive a vehicle with no license or experience. The entire ideas of both are reckless and in the end, everyone and everything will result in complete chaos. Continuing to consume large amounts of GMOs, Americans are literally putting their lives up for grabs. Hence, eating products that contain these harmful ingredients, such as glyphosate and Roundup, is not only hurting the person consuming it, but also the person’s offspring as well (Smith). In addition, GMOs may be the cause for many children being diagnosed with diseases that were hardly ever seen before such as autism (Smith) and other serious birth defects. Americans continuing to let these companies run the nation’s food industry and test their biotechnology techniques and treating the foods and people of America as experiments is not a topic to be taken lightly. Americans may have been in the dark before but not anymore. Consumers have the right to know what they are eating and what is being put into their food. In addition, allowing farmers to continue to plant GMO crops is not doing anything positive for the earth’s ecosystem.
Therefore, action must be taken to expose these huge companies such as Monsanto and the brainwashing information they are feeding to the world. People need to take a stand for what is beneficial to not only themselves, but also the entire world as a whole. As a result, consumers must fight for labeling to be required in the U.S. Otherwise, Monsanto’s goal to eliminate all natural seeds with modified seeds could become reality. In the end, Americans are the ones who will suffer a lifetime of diseases. If people want to make a difference, the first step is to say NO to GMO! A recommendation on doing so is to buy organic foods, which consists of products that are made from non-GM ingredients. In addition, individuals can check out a webpage “non GMO shopping guide” for more information on what it is safe to eat.
Andrew, Nigel. “The buzz on bee pesticides: Australia should consider a ban.” The Conversation. The Conversation. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.
Huff, Ethan. “GMO pesticides linked to birth defects, disruption of male hormones, cancer.” Natural News, 2011. Web.
Jamil, Kaiser. “A Solution To Hunger?.” UN Chronicle 46.3/4 (2009): 70-72. Academic Search Premier. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.
McCarthy, Michael. “Decline of Honey Bees Now a Global Phenomenon, says United Nations.” CommonDreams. CommonDreams.10 Mar. 2011. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.
Mellon, Margaret, and Jane Rissler. “Environmental effects of genetically modified food crops –Recent Experiences.” ucsusa. Union of Concerned Scientists, N.P. 12-13 06 2003. Web. 19 Apr 2013.
“Monsanto A Corporate Profile.” Food and Water Watch . Food and Water Watch. 2013. Web.
“Monsanto.” Monsanto. Monsanto. Web. 19 Apr 2013.
Ruhs, Barbara. “Update: Gmos In Foods.” Environmental Nutrition 36.2 (2013): 1-6. Academic Search Premier. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.
Smith, Jeffrey, dir. “Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of our lives.” Youtube, Film. 19 Apr 2013.
Smith, Jeffrey. “GMOs increase herbicide use.” Istitute for Responsible Technology. Institute for Responsible Technology. 2013. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.
Smith, Jeffrey. “Non GMO Shopping Guide.” Non GMO Shopping Guide. Institute for Responsible Technology. 2010. Web. 16 Apr. 2013.