Genetically modified foods – friend or foe?
Genetically modified (GM) foods are altered to make them superior and better compared to conventional produce. The genetic makeup of the foods is changed using recumbent DNA technology commonly to make the foods more resistant to insects and viruses.
Genetically modified foods are common. In 2006, 10.3 million farmers were using GM crops, mainly soybeans, corn, cotton, canola, and alfalfa. The United States currently produces about 53% of the world’s GM foods. Other countries in North and South America, Asia, and Africa are also using GMO crops, but to a lesser extent.
Potential benefits of GM foods include increased resistance to disease and insect damage, potential for higher nutrient content, and a need for less pesticide and insecticides to be used. These benefits could produce greater crop yields and help with food insecurity throughout the world.
Potential hazards are obviously the safety for human and animal consumption of such plants. Many of these potentials risks are yet unknown. GM foods do not currently require labeling so you don’t know if you are buying them or not.
The only way to know that you are not purchasing a food made from GM foods is to purchase foods that have the USDA Organic seal which guarantees that 95% of the ingredients used in a food will not contain genetically engineered ingredients as well as a list of other criteria.
I can’t say if GM foods are right or wrong at this point. No one can. I do think, however, that people should be able to choose if they want to purchase and consume GM foods or not. I think labeling should be required for GM foods so that we can all make our own choices about what we put into our bodies.