MAR 29, 2017 8:21 AM PDT

What's the deal with GMOs?


There has been an ongoing controversy about the simultaneous dangers and wonders of GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. If you live in the US, you have almost certainly not escaped eating such genetically modified foods, probably mostly in the form of fruits and vegetables. (Although most meats themselves are not yet genetically modified, the corn and soy that compose their feed are.) In fact it can be hard to find produce that is not modified as 95% of beets, 94% of soy, and 88% of corn contain proteins that were engineered to be resistant to insects for herbicides. But the truth is that such selection for specific traits happens naturally in species and to date there have been no studies that show significant detrimental consequences to humans from eating genetically modified foods.

One thing to bear in mind is that nowadays when people talk about GMOs we're usually talking about transgenic organisms, where genes from one organism are extracted and fused into the genes of another organism to give them some specific trait. This practice of transgenics is by no means a new technology. One of the first FDA approved transgenic plants was called the Flavr Savr Tomato, which was altered so that it would take longer to ripen and could therefore be shipped around the country. Unfortunately, the Flavr Savr didn't actually do what its name might suggest and never took hold in the market.

More so than the scientific reasons, much of the controversy behind GMOs hangs in the cultural and economic consequences of placing so much power over our food supply in the hands of the monopolies that control GMOs and the herbicides (Roundup) that spur their growth. Because of this, the GMO debate is often a proxy for the even bigger debate against large companies with unporportional power.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 14, 2020
Plants & Animals
Tracking the Iconic American Bison
AUG 14, 2020
Tracking the Iconic American Bison
The Great Plains of Montana are home to one of the United States' largest land restoration projects, known as the Am ...
AUG 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
What Will the End of the Universe Look Like?
AUG 16, 2020
What Will the End of the Universe Look Like?
Matt Caplan, a theoretical physicist at Illinois State University, has calculated when the last supernova will happen in ...
AUG 20, 2020
Health & Medicine
New Method to Detect Microplastics in Human Tissues
AUG 20, 2020
New Method to Detect Microplastics in Human Tissues
Microplastics make headlines frequently these days, and a discovery from Arizona State University (ASU) researchers is b ...
SEP 10, 2020
Plants & Animals
Scientists Document Swimming Styles of Sea Butterflies
SEP 10, 2020
Scientists Document Swimming Styles of Sea Butterflies
Snails, marine and terrestrial, are likely primarily imagined to be attached to a substrate. However, under the waves, t ...
OCT 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Earth-Sized Rogue Planet Found Drifting Through Our Galaxy
OCT 07, 2020
Earth-Sized Rogue Planet Found Drifting Through Our Galaxy
A team of astronomers has found a lone planet the size of Earth drifting through the Milky Way. Known as a ‘rogue ...
OCT 15, 2020
Health & Medicine
An Estimated 38 Million People were Exposed to Polluted Wildfire Smoke
OCT 15, 2020
An Estimated 38 Million People were Exposed to Polluted Wildfire Smoke
As wildfires continue to burn record-breaking acreages along the west coast of the United States and inland regions, hos ...
Loading Comments...