News Student Health

Pro/Con: Students debate GMOs harms, benefits

GMOs create potential health risks

By Jose Cardenas ’16
THE ROUNDUP

GMOs are genetically modified organisms, whose genetic material has been altered—not through mating, natural recombination or other biological process.

They are used primarily to genetically modify crops in order to be more weather resistant and yield a bigger harvest. However, the good intentions behind them do not conceal their greater health risks.

According to a study at Yale University, the main problem with GMOs is that they can cause allergic reactions in people because of the constant DNA mixing within edible organisms.

For example, if a protein that comes from a plant that does not cause an allergic reaction for an individual is added into a plant that does, it may cause that person to suffer an allergic reaction.

Also, according to the Organic Consumers Association, GMOs can negatively affect the environment by contaminating plant life with genetically modified pollen and other methods of breeding.

In addition, they can increase the potency of pesticides and cause unnecessary damage to the environment due to the amount of chemicals that go into their production.

GMO crops are not natural to our ecosystems. So what exactly makes them natural to our bodies or digestive systems?

There are good intentions driving the production of genetically modified foods and there has been great success regarding the improvement of the quality and quantity of foods.

However, the answer to improving food production should not be genetic modification, but rather finding new ways of farming and cultivating crops that use the natural processes of the ecosystem.

If GMOs are going to be commonly used in food production, then there must be regulations on their production to prevent any health risk. People’s lives must be taken into account, especially when considering the costs GMOs can bring.

Alternative lifestyles that abstain from GM foods should also be taken into account. People who want to eat healthy should be offered natural options and should know what is actually in the food they are purchasing.

Actions should be taken to label GM foods in order to avoid harm of people and to offer greater consumer choice.

GMOs might be a preferable method of food production, but in the end their presence is more indicative of a health hazard than anything else.

GMOs offer massive benefits, few risks

By Joseph Valencia ’17
THE ROUNDUP

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are becoming increasingly commonplace in modern food production, and should be seen as a benefit, not as a threat.

Despite years of successful use, people continue to distrust GMOs, ignorantly believing that they have hidden adverse effects.

Others condemn the widespread use of GMOs because it limits consumer choice.

Firstly, GMOs are safe for consumption, and have been distributed across the world for years, and haven’t been taken off shelves yet.

According to Forbes, a study conducted by Alison Van Eenenaam,  geneticist from the University of California-Davis, analyzed 29 years of data regarding animal health before and after the advent of GM crops. The study analyzed over 100 billion animals, focusing particularly on cattle, since they can’t be ill to be approved for sale.

The study’s findings found no abnormal trends since the introduction of GM crops in 1996, which implies that GM crops are just as safe as organic crops.

Furthermore, according to research done by the university of Southern California, GMOs have the potential to be used as carriers for vaccines used to combat diseases such as cholera, and perhaps one day AIDS. One such example that already exists is a transgenic potato plant that was bred with a pharmaceutical vaccination for diarrhea.

Secondly, people still have the option to go to places like farmers’ markets or certain stores that carry organic foods. GMOs have not monopolized the food industry, as they still have to compete with organic foods.

Another important benefit of GMOs is their ability to survive in harsh environments. This fact will prove critical in the near future of the world.

According to the United Nations, global food production will have to double by 2050, as the population is expected to be well over 9 million by then. At the same time, farmable land will continue to decrease, and growing conditions will become much harsher.

GM crops have the capability to overcome these challenges and will only increase in efficiency as the versatility of genetic modification continues to grow.

According to an article from Newsweek, a 2012 invention called “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)” allows scientists to modify single genes with ease. This technique far surpasses the traditional method of grafting used to create new hybrid plants.

With the human population increasing and the amount of arable land decreasing, GMOs will become crucial in keeping people fed.

For this reason, GM crop production should be embraced, not feared, by society.