The 21st century has introduced many new technologies and sciences, from the iPhone and self-driving cars to bionic limbs and cloning. One of the most prominent modern day advancements is the genetic modification of food. We are surrounded by GM food in our supermarkets, from crops modified to withstand pesticides to food altered to look more appealing to the public. However, there are many controversies with genetic modification, including questions about their safety and possible dangers. While genetically engineered foods may seem beneficial, their potential consequences and health risks outnumber the positive impacts.
Herbicides such as glyphosate and Roundup are used to more efficiently kill weeds on large farms and agricultural sites. Many farmers use genetic modification so that their crops can withstand the herbicides. According to a study by the Detox Project, about 80 percent of genetic modifications in food are used to tolerate the chemicals in pesticides and herbicides. However, over time, the weeds become increasingly resistant to the chemicals, and farmers resort to spraying more and more chemicals on the plants. Because of this, many of the chemicals make their way into the crops and eventually into the humans that
A study published by the Public Library of Science focused on the transferring of chemicals to the bloodstream and found that “small fragments of nucleic acids may pass to the bloodstream and even get into various tissues.” They even found traces of chemicals in animals that were fed genetically modified foods. The same study also located chemicals in the bloodstreams of over a thousand human subjects.
It is difficult to connect the chemicals to a specific disease or sickness due to many other factors involved in the bloodstream and crop production, but studies have found possible correlations between pesticides and herbicides with Alzheimer’s, birth deficiencies, allergies, and more.
Although there are regulations and health checks for GM food, they are not guaranteed to detect all of the chemicals they may contain. Little is understood about the chemicals, and this topic has continued to be researched and studied, but the possible consequences and health risks are enough to signal alarm and uneasiness.
I had a general understanding of GM food before conducting research, but I knew little about their purpose with pesticides. In the public, it is general knowledge that GM food can be harmful, but further understanding of this fact is often ignored. In our consumerist society, we tend to purchase the food that looks more appetizing rather than take time to understand the consequences that these GM foods might have.
I am a strong supporter of organic food because of their lack of preservatives, pesticides, or genetic modification.
Unfortunately, organic food items are often significantly more expensive than their genetically engineered counterparts. Due to both differences in appearance and price, the less healthy food items stocked full with preservatives are picked over the healthier organic food items. Organic isn’t affordable to everyone, but it is important to avoid genetically engineered foods as much as possible.
Not everything I eat is organic, and I have had my share of GM food. However, I encourage myself to eat the organic option, even when the counterpart may look more appetizing or taste sweeter. In general, we shouldn’t be putting unwanted chemicals in our bodies, and genetically engineered food items are no exception.
So next time you’re at the supermarket, take a second look at the labels you see and consider spending a little more for the organic option to avoid chemicals and to stay healthy.