The Debate Over GMOs


Fiona Fragomen: Grade 8

GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, involve the act of altering or taking genes from one species and inserting them into another to obtain a certain trait or characteristic. GMOs are everywhere. GMO foods have been a staple in the United States for more than a decade. Most of the corn, soybean, sugar beets, and cotton cultivated in the United States today contains DNA that has been manipulated. Though common in the United States, they are largely banned in the 28-nation European Union.

 

Companies use GMOs to make manufacturing cheaper, produce more food, ward off insects, and resist diseases.

The debate over GMOs poses the question about whether GMOs inside foods are safe or not. Studies show that in the short term, there are no heath effects for humans. The Food and Drug Administration has recognized these foods as safe, and the World Health Organization says no health effects have risen in the international market since the creation of GMOs. Unfortunately, these organizations do not always provide accurate and trustworthy research. There have not been enough independent research companies who have conducted fair and objective experiments to prove GMOs are safe. Most people worry that humans who eat GMO foods may be more prone to allergies or diseases resistant to antibiotics. Most of the GMO crops are used for animal feed or in commonly processed foods such as cookies, cereal, potato chips, and salad dressing.

In the most recent controversy, GMOs are now prevalent in Iraq. Since the United States has replaced the Iraqi government, the United States is now making farmers in the “Fertile Crescent” plant U.S. seeds that have been genetically modified. The seeds from Mesopotamia are some of the oldest seeds on earth and have evolved naturally. The implementation of this GMO order, which re-engineers Iraq’s agriculture, is called Order81. Order81 is a U.S. imposed requirement that introduces a system of monopoly rights over seeds. Under this order, Iraqi farmers will be forced to buy their seeds from corporations like Monsanto who are the biggest promoters of GMOs. GMOs will replace the old tradition of breeding closely related plants and replace them with DNA from altogether different species. In addition, the United States and Iraq put an agreement in place that is called the company’s technology agreement (Technology User Agreements). This agreement allows a company to control farmers’ practices and conduct property investigations. A farmer essentially becomes the slave of the company and can be sued by Monsanto if they do not use their seeds. GMOs could possibly ruin farming for Iraq.

Although GMOs may be disruptive to human health and plant biodiversity, in some instances GMOs have been found to be helpful. Recently, in Florida, the oranges were faced with a disease called “citrus greening.” Farmers attempted to scour the world to find a naturally immune tree that served as a progenitor for a new crop, but this type of tree does not exist. Therefore, the farmers had to turn to altering the orange’s DNA and placing another gene into the orange from another species. In this instance, GMOs proved successful in saving the Florida orange.

After researching and looking closely at both sides, I found that working ethically and collectively toward the responsible use of GMOs would serve our world and its people best.

What do you think?

Look at this video below to learn more about what children are doing to protect our future.

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