The GMO debate is one of our society’s most controversial matters. People are generally more concerned by GMOs than global warming, for example – probably because they feel GM foods can directly affect them during their lifespan.
Unfortunately, bringing the truth about GMOs to light is a delicate matter with no honest-to-goodness answer yet. What we can do is inform ourselves as much as possible and try to avoid GMO products until further conclusive research is conducted.
The GMO Debate
The genetically modified food debate must start with the definition of a GMO…
What are GM Foods?
Genetically Modified foods, also known as genetically engineered foods, are edibles that have been genetically altered one way or another. The common understanding of GMO food refers to plants that have been genetically altered to show traits they would not acquire naturally, or would have little chances to do so. However, there are more GM products on the market than you’d think.
Many dairy products are fermented, acidified, coagulated, or generally processed with the help of GM bacteria. GM microorganisms are also used in chemical food processing – more on that here.
Some are against and want to stay away from meat of animals that have been fed GMOs. Given that most of the animal feed comprises of leftovers from crop processing, this can be harder than it seems.
In our opinion, the classification of GMOs and extensions of this notion should be the first matters of discussion in a GMO debate.
… go through whether or not they are fit for consumption…
Are GMO Foods Safe?
Are genetically modified foods safe? One of the toughest question of the 21st century with some background in the 20th, GMO safety is highly disputed among doctors, scientists, the government, and the GMO industry – which has some very important players in the U.S. and global economy. Plenty of GMO studies have been conducted over the years, but their results vary as much as their financers’ points of view – which makes them hard to trust and consider unbiased. This makes the GMO debate even more confusing for the general public.
We already know the government’s stand on this matter: a food would not be on the market if it wouldn’t be safe. Let’s see what scientists think about GMOs:
What Agronomists Think About GMOs
Agronomists, or experts who study soil management and crop production, are generally supportive of GMOs since they offer a viable solution to feed the increasing population. GMO is safe according to the FDA, and that’s everything they need to revolutionize agriculture.
What Doctors Think About GMOs
Medicine is an extremely complex field, so in order to properly assert medical opinions on GMOs we need to break it down into several medical fields. It’s important to understand that, beyond a doctorate or medical diploma, medical experts are people with more or less unbiased opinions that can be influenced by their religion, philosophy, or personal experience – which may or may not be relevant.
Some oncologists believe the increasing number of their patients is due to genetic alterations in foods, while others claim there is no surefire way of knowing: The large number of benign and malignant tumors in the past few years can be blamed on pollution or artificial additives in everyday items – which should also be concerning, by the way. If you take the time to read labels and look up ingredients in processed foods, hand sanitizers, cosmetics, air fresheners, and so on, you will discover a disturbing number of carcinogens.
Nutritionists are generally against GMOs and strongly believe the GMO food dangers are more concerning than GMO research shows. Their expertise and the growing number of patients with weight problems makes them question whether GMOs are safe.
Pharmacologists, however, have conflicting opinions on GMOs. If you work in pharmacology, the GMO debate takes the next level by influencing your work both positively and negatively. On the one hand, we have remarkable advancements in drug manufacturing and curing serious diseases like Ebola thanks to GMOs which synthesize nutrients faster and easier than traditional techniques. On the other hand, you ask yourself: What if the reason why so many people need drugs for kidney, liver, heart, or stomach diseases because of their GMO diet? What are the dangers of genetically modified food we are yet to discover?
Obstetricians also have more patients and encounter more issues when treating them. Pregnancy rates continue to drop and not always voluntarily: Infertility is a concerning problem that has been linked with genetically altered food by some GMO research teams of non-governmental organizations.
What Other Scientists Think About GMOs
Although the GMO debate refers mostly to foods, there are some who consider genetically altered organisms should not exist at all. However, GMOs have revolutionized many scientific fields. Microbiologists, virologists, bacteriologists, and mycologists worked together to develop genetically engineered microorganisms which benefited petrology, robotics, chemistry, biochemistry, and ecology – to name a few.
However, this does not mean they think GMOs are safe for human consumption – not by a long shot. Each of them has their own views on this matter, like every other American.
… and continue with the debate on whether they should be labeled or not:
GMO Labeling Debate
Even though the existence and commercialization of GMO products are highly debated, things are much easier to put into perspective when talking about labeling them: 92% of Americans want national GMO labeling laws. However, the debate mostly refers to other players in the system.
The USDA doesn’t see any reason to label them since they are not “materially different”, and this decision is strongly supported by giants of the GM industry. We’re not saying there has been influence from large companies in this field, but we must admit it does aid their agenda.
On the other hand, some more tolerant food safety organizations are pushing for labeling laws while others want them completely off the market.
To avoid redundant information on our website, please check out our article on GMO labeling if you want to find out more about this matter.