[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]
Labeling genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, is an ongoing topic that Americans are refusing to back down from. When people are denied the right to put something in black and white, it makes them wonder, why is GMO labeling so secretive? Millions of people already know the destruction of GMOs! Ruhs, the author of, “Update: GMOs in Foods,” states that genetically modified organisms are formed when DNA is taken from one species and unnaturally placed into the genes of another species. They are found in corn, soy, cottonseed and other crops. Studies, on the other hand, are proving that the chemicals being used to aid in the production of these crops are more of a danger than a miracle (“Genetic Roulette”). Nevertheless, GMO foods are affecting almost everything people are consuming today.
Furthermore GMO myths are circulating throughout America and some of them are raising many people’s brows. For instance, biotech companies are saying that GMOs are nutritious and safe for humans, livestock and the environment (Antoniou and Robinson). Another myth is that costs will increase if GMO labeling is required. However, if GMOs are what biotech companies say they are, then why are companies continuing to quarrel about putting as little as three letters, “GMO,” on their labels? While these arguments seem unworthy to pursue, they are strong reasons for why people should continue to fight for GMO labeling. Therefore, GMO labeling should be required.
As indicated, studies are possibly proving that the spraying of herbicides and pesticides on GMO crops is dangerous to the environment. According to the article, “Update: GMOs in Foods,” Ruhs is saying that Benbrook, a Ph.D. researcher from Washington State University, is agreeing that these chemicals are dangerous for the environment. One of these dangers is the overuse of the herbicide Roundup. Roundup is made with glyphosate and it is designed to protect soybeans and Bt crops like corn from weeds. Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, on the other hand, is a natural pesticide which is genetically fitted into corn. When bugs, such as the corn borer beetle, eat the Bt corn, their stomachs explode. Unfortunately, regular use of Roundup only aided farmers for a few weed free years, and then farmers began noticing that their weeds were becoming resistant to the glyphosate. As a remedy, farmers had to increase the use of Roundup.
More worrying still, there are no independent studies examining the effects from ingesting both Roundup and Bt corn, but that has been happening as people eat corn products. Sadly, the overuse of Roundup has been destroying “the natural balances of nature” as well as causing more chaos to the environment (“Genetic Roulette”). For example, crops were lacking the organisms and bacteria that are necessary in soil due to the chemicals that were being sprayed on the crops. When more than two trace minerals are absent from the soil, farmers end up with undernourished crops. Moreover, chemicals that were not soaking in the soil started leaching into nature’s water sources. Rivers, lakes, streams, as well as the ocean have become destinations for farming’s chemical runoff.
At this point, other living organisms are also being exposed to Roundup. Pesticides and herbicides are damaging almost everything people are presuming natural; in particular, the pollination of crops. About 80% of the world’s food is pollinated by bees and if farmers continue to use harmful chemicals, bees will continue to die and eventually, extinction could occur. For this reason, plants will no longer regenerate by acts of nature; however, they will by the acts of GMO companies. According to the article, “Alarm Raised Over…,” O’Flanagan, sincerely writes, “Maintaining the integrity of organics because it is crucial to fostering a healthier, more sustainable future,” is what some people are believing. Nevertheless, battling to label GMO foods is what people want so that the environment can be free of GMO chemicals, as well as living life more naturally and eating more naturally grown food.
Another reason why people want GMO food labeling is because of studies that presume GMO products are unhealthy for livestock. Based on the documentary, “Medical Documentary On…,” animals such as cows, pigs and chickens are affected by Roundup because the same crops that are sprayed with Roundup are also used in products that most farmers feed their animals. The documentary also states that one of the reasons for feeding their livestock Bt corn products is to buff them up before taking them to the slaughterhouse.
Currently, there is not enough evidence that farm animals are suffering from GMO products; however, initial studies are showing that since using GMO food sources, farmers are noticing changes in their livestock. Besides behaving “weirdly,” livestock reproduction has also been declining. In addition, farmers have also been noticing an increase in birth defects (“Medical Documentary On…”). As a matter of fact, tests are showing large amounts of Bt in calves and that they have been dying at a very young age. To emphasize this, according to the documentary, “Medical Documentary On…,” Smith, Founder of Institute for Responsible Technology, is claiming that GMO products are the leading cause of infertility and reproductive disruption in livestock. Unquestionably, these studies are convincing enough for people to fight for GMO labeling. They feel that if crops are suffering from malnutrition because of Roundup, then animals eating these same products are suffering as well.
Americans also want GMO labeling because they believe that since GMO products were introduced, people have become sicker than ever. Triggering these beliefs comes partly from the article, “Being American Is Bad For Your Health,” in which Kaplan is pointing out that when comparing America to Japan, Britain, Australia, and the Scandinavian countries, Americans are suffering more from health issues like breast cancers, heart diseases and diabetes than the people of these other countries. Currently, these countries have GMO restrictions and limitations on the products their people are consuming, so clearly, this is another indication why Americans believe that GMOs are leading to health problems.
To top it off, studies are showing that 93% of humans contain traces of Bt toxin in their blood (Poulter). As mentioned earlier, studies are showing that the environment and livestock are suffering from GMO products, so if humans are eating foods from the same environment or livestock, than they are eating Bt corn as well (“Medical Documentation on…”). The same effects Bt corn is having on the environment and livestock are the same effects that people believe are occurring to the human race. Without a doubt, this is another reason behind why people believe that GMOs are harmful and continue to fight for GMO labeling.
Although one myth proclaims that GMOs are safe, the fact of the matter is, GMOs are not. Glyphosate, an ingredient in “Roundup” that protects crops like Bt corn from weeds, is one of the leading causes of why people suffer from gastrointestinal problems. While farmers use Roundup on their crops to kill weeds, people are also being affected by it as well. In the documentary, “Genetic Roulette,” Ashe, an MD and Family Practitioner, believes that GMO production is harmful and is the probable reason for intestinal permeability, which on the other hand, is similar to the same effects that Bt corn has on insects. Ashe also adds that when food is not broken down properly, it enters the bloodstream and as a result, a person suffers from illnesses such as inflammations, allergies, and choleric bowel disorders.
As mentioned, GMO products are the reasons behind the allergic problems in humans. To prove this, according to Dr. Perro, one of America’s top Pediatricians, points out that studies have shown when food is seeping from the intestines, it generates an antigen causing a person to become allergic to food they can no longer tolerate (“Genetic Roulette”). Food that seeps from the intestines, again, results from when food is not broken down properly. As scary as all this sounds, biotech companies still insist that GMO labeling is unnecessary.
Most importantly, GMOs are unsafe because studies are proving that Roundup is one of the reasons behind infertility in humans and animals. As reported by Smith, director of “Genetic Roulette,” studies prove that rats consuming GMO soy suffer from uterus and ovary changes. In addition, their babies are smaller, cannot reproduce, or as much as 50% of them die within three weeks of birth. What is more frightening still is that tests in Canada have proven that 93% of pregnant women and 80% of their unborn fetuses had traces of Bt in their blood. Smith also acknowledges that these traces are from the milk and meat of animals that eat Bt corn. Consequently, direct contact with Bt corn is unnecessary since it is already being introduced in a majority of today’s food supply. Even after the discovery of these alarming studies, biotech companies still fight to turn their backs on labeling GMO products.
Ironically though, biotech companies are arguing that GMO products are substantially equivalent, even if studies indicate that they are essentially different in a number of ways. For instance, GMO products are said to be just as nutritious. Yet, according to the article, “Stunning Corn Comparison…,” Honeycutt is indicating that GMO foods, on the other hand, are not nutritious. He also indicates that the statistics supplied by De Dell Seed Company, the only non-GMO Company in Canada, proves that non-GMO products contain a higher amounts of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, and other nutrients, resulting in GMO products being less nutritional. For example, the ppm of non-GMO corn has 437 times more calcium, 56 times more magnesium, and 7 times more manganese than in GMO corn (Honeycutt). Based on this information, even a blind person is capable of seeing that non-GMO products are much more nutritious.
Evidently, while malnourished GMO products increase in the human food supply, so do the allergies that are caused by them. As stated by the author in “Anti Giyio Grass-Roots…,” scientists ponder over the fact that GMO crops and Roundup are the reasons why there is an increase in allergy cases (Marsa 42). In other words, naturally grown products are healthier than GMO products. Even more frightening, in the documentary “GMO Trilogy…,” McGonigle, VP of Aqua Bounty Farms, admits that when taking three salmon from the same offspring and injecting one of the three with modified genes, the one salmon grew triple in size when comparing it to the other two. He adds that modified salmon are more aggressive, suffered from deficiencies, and died before non-GMO salmon did. Clearly, based on these studies, GMO products are definitely different compared to natural grown products.
Shockingly surprising is that even if companies are spending millions to prevent labeling, they are complaining that labeling GMO foods will be too expensive. According to the article, “Pro-GMO Propaganda…,” and Joanna Shepard-Bailey, a PhD and law professor of Emory, she states that costs will not cause an increase in price. Shepard-Baileys’ analysis conducted in California has concluded that even if companies spend about $1 million to label GMO products, the company’s expenses will rise only by 0.03% and state expenses will also increase only by 0.0008%, which will result in a cost increase of just a penny per resident in California to label GMO products. In other words, GMO labeling should be dirt cheap compared to the spending of over $40 million to prevent labeling as recommended in the Proposition 37 referendum last November. Based on that analysis, biotech companies should stand behind their products and label them; they certainly will spend much less if they do.
People are also wondering that if other countries are already labeling GMO foods, then why is it that hard for companies in America to label as well? Hooser, the author of “Full Labeling of GMO Products…,” confirms that over 63 countries already mandate labeling. Some of these countries include, “Europe, Russia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.” It is senseless for GMO companies to argue about labeling costing them more money because they are already paying for it. Byrne, the author of “Labeling Of Genetically Engineered Foods,” emphasizes that labeling requires a lot of work and effort, starting from “the ink, identifying a preservation system and keeping accurate records.” However, if companies are doing such a good job in other countries, GMO labeling should be easier to do, especially because companies are currently labeling so successfully elsewhere.
It is important to remember that laws are created to protect everyone in every way possible, therefore, when the FDA, EPA, USDA, or biotech companies ignore the fact that Roundup is dangerous to people’s health as well as proclaim that labeling is unnecessary, then something is secretly going on behind closed doors. While GMO products are presuming to be safe, nutritious and expensive to label, they are badly mistaken seeing that studies are clearly showing otherwise. GMOs are unsafe because Roundup caused infertility and reproductive failure in the tests that scientists experimented on lab rats.
Research has also shown that GMOs are far from being substantially equivalent, especially when studies prove that genetically modified salmon were three times larger than natural grown salmon. Most astounding is that companies do not want to label GMO products because it is costly, even though they are already labeling other products and spending untold millions on preventing labeling legislation. Obviously, biotech companies are running out of excuses and soon they will not have any more left to prevent GMO labeling. So instead of fighting the issue, just label all genetically modified foods.
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