Genetically Modified Foods: Safety, Risks

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Food serves as a way for people to connect and has always been part of the human story. The effect that food has on culture and social aspects is very deep-rooted in our society. Yet as the world continues to grow, and technology continues to advance, the need for more food is crucial in order to satisfy an increasing population.

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As an effect, science has resorted to meet such demands by modifying foods at a genetic level. The use of GMO’s currently has had profound impacts on society, that essentially resulted in positive and negative outcomes. More specifically, GMO’s have raised conflict between groups of opposing viewpoints, increased awareness regarding health of consumers, and allowed businesses to reap the benefits of the advantages GMO’s have to offer.

Perhaps the most severe consequence Genetically Modified Organisms have on society, is that they have raised disputes between people on whether consumers should be aware of what’s inside their food. The citizens of Colorado, Vermont, and other states, each with their respective opinions, are divided on instituting labeling laws to be put on genetically altered foods. Those supportive of the labeling laws argue that consumers are “entitled to know whether their food contains GMO’s” in order to make more informed decisions (Muskal). The public being unaware of what their food contains can be seen as a violation of their rights in their eyes, thus justifying why they feel the way they do. In contrast, those opposing the laws (mainly businesses) fear that labeling will “stigmatize” their products, or in other words associate GMO’s in a negative context, that will ultimately result in economic stress due to higher costs needed to separate modified from non-modified foods (Muskal). The disputes led to legislation taking action in courts to address the decision of passing said laws. Nevertheless, the two groups continued to battle out the subject, thus putting stress on social balance in the states. Social balance is important to keep in check in order to maintain control, which is unfortunately provoked by the controversial topics the use of GMO’s raise.

The safety of GMO’s consumption has also come into question, along with the health of people who actively consume them. Most GMO’s have been engineered to withstand the harshest of pesticides and endure environment conditions normal food would otherwise not tolerate. This raises speculation if GMO’s are actually safe to eat considering all of the unnatural procedures that are done to it. A mounting body of evidence has connected GMO’s with many harmful health problems. Lisa Archer a critic of the AquAdvantage Salmon, claims that the fish could cause allergies in people and even goes as far to say that “”‘There’s no place on our dinner plates for genetically modified fish'”” (Associated Press). Her argument proves that GMO’s have no place in the diets of consumers and that their well-being may be at high risk. Furthermore, another reason why GMO’s are causing such concerns regarding health, is that they are poorly studied. Therefore, in the absence of concrete evidence, many citizens have taken matters into their own hands and choose to “”opt out of the GMO experiment”” (“”GMO Facts””). This supports the increasing amount of doubt among citizens and society, explaining why many of them choose to not take part in such unknown affiliations dealing with modified foods, in order to ensure the safety of themselves and others.

Despite the negative consequences GMO’s have had on society, the usage of them has proven useful to businesses and corporations who make a profit off the many advantages the modified foods present. The J.R. Simplot Company in Idaho received approval from the Federal Department of Agriculture to pass two new varieties of potatoes that are impervious to certain diseases (Ridler). Diseases such as ‘late blight’ have made it hard for farmers to maintain their farms, but the new varieties of potatoes however, offer a solution because of their genetically produced defenses. Company officials claim that the potatoes will bring up to “”24-hour protection to farmers’ fields and reduce the use of pesticide spray up to 45 percent”” (Ridler). This not only protects the farmers’ property but ensures the success of companies due to increased production that will likely come about because of the foods’ resistance. Furthermore, the genetically modified potatoes are more durable and can be kept in cold storage for longer periods of time (Ridler). Enhanced shelf life could show to be valuable to industries that rely on them by reducing trucking costs. The reduced costs saves the companies potentially large quantities of money that can be put to use in other places.

The effects GMO’s have had in present-day society have greatly impacted everyday aspects of our lives. Some of the most principal impacts include that GMO’s have caused ethical and health concerns amongst consumers, aided companies financially, and triggered social disputes. All under consideration, even though using GMO’s has negative consequences, the benefits they have induced has significantly contributed to the development of our modern world.

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