Ask anyone who is following the recent health fads and they will tell you the genetically modified crops (GMOs) are worse than Hitler, worse than global warming and worse than stepping on a piece of Lego with your bare feet. But why do people think they are bad when there are well over 100 scientific, peer-reviewed studies showing they do NO harm and are just as nutritious and healthy as their non-GMO counterparts? It’s because there is too much pseudoscience and myths out there on the topic and little coverage on the truth. Google search GMO and countless websites pop up telling you they are the definition of evil. Not one of them based in scientific proof.
One of the favourite arguments is that genes inserted into the food can enter our genome and cause us all sorts of problems? No, that is just pseudoscience lies. We eat DNA every day, in everything we eat. Vegetables have DNA; fruits have DNA; meat has DNA. If you want something without DNA eat rocks. Regardless of where the DNA is from. none of it enters our genome so why should GMO DNA enter our genome? Answer is it doesn’t. It may enter our blood along with DNA from any other non-GMO plants but it does not enter our DNA and is not turned into proteins. This means it doesn’t do anything except get broken down by the same immune system that breaks down bacterial DNA viral DNA/RNA. GMO genes DO NOT become part of us.
Do they get bad press because we shouldn’t tamper with Nature by changing organisms for our needs? We have been tampering with our food for over 10,000 years when we first decided to plant corn seeds from plants with larger or better tasting kernels. Corn today looks nothing like corn from 10,000 years ago. We have selected the best plants to breed and in turn have gotten a plant that is not natural corn but is nutritious and safe. We have done the same thing with bananas and wheat. We have also been tampering with our pets as is evidenced by the diversity of dog breeds present now. So what is the difference? Genetic techniques today are precise and allow us to remove or add genes without problem. We could spend thousands of years trying to breed rice that makes beta-carotene in high quantities or we could add the necessary genes in our self. These genes come from natural plants or bacteria. There is no difference between what our selective breeding practices do and what scientists can do now except that it is more efficient.
Maybe GMOs are seen as evil because big bad companies like Monsanto have GMO crops with pesticide producing genes in them? First of all, Monsanto’s Roundup ready corn has no pesticides in it. None-at-all. What it does have are genes that prevent it from being killed by herbicides so that farmers don’t have to plant the crops far enough apart to protect them from the herbicides. Second, there are crops that contain pesticides, such as Bt corn, which contain genes from bacteria that are commonly used in organic farming. So why is it acceptable to use in organic farming but including it in a crops genome is not? It is known that the pesticide is degraded by the human acidic gut and is not harmful to humans. The only difference is organic is a buzzword used for good and GMO is a buzz word used in pseudoscientific slander.
There are other examples of GMO products that are not produced to increase farmer yields or make lots of money but instead are produced to help solve real world hunger problems. Golden rice is a great example of a product that helps with the real problem of vitamin A deficiency. Over 200 million people suffer from vitamin A deficiency and golden rice is a cheap alternative solution to treating the condition. There are also drought resistant crops that help battle hunger in drought stricken parts of the world. If we are going to solve the global food crisis, science will have to be involved and GMO foods will be needed.
If you don’t want to eat them, that’s fine. But don’t propagate the lies. This is a similar problem that vaccine scientists face currently. Pseudoscience does nothing but harm people. If you have a problem with how companies monopolize or patent the developments and profit off them, fine, voice that. But remember, companies are also profiting off making sure you know everything that is organic, non-GMO and gluten free. They are just different companies who people have decided are not trying to get your money like the evil ones. There is NO evidence the GMO crops are dangerous. In fact, they help solve real world problems.
In final, a recent review has shown that GMO plants are nutritionally equivalent to their non-GM counterparts and produce no ill-effects in humans. Remember to always look for scientifically valid information. If there is no source for the information you are reading then it may not be true.
Here are some resources to educate yourself on the truth behind GMO crops:
Scientific articles about the safety of GMO crops. These studies were not funded by the agriculture industry but instead have been done by researchers in Universities around the world like me.
By the way, those of you who are diabetic probably get your insulin from genetically modified bacteria. Your welcome!