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In recent years, genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, have been controversial topics of discussion. In the United States, GMOs are not required to be labeled, and because of this, people don’t know whether they are eating a genetically modified food or not. This creates a lot of controversy because scientists are still unsure of the long-term effects that GMOs could have on humans.
Although there are many definitions on what a GMO is, according to the World Health Organization, genetically modified organisms are defined as “organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.”
The definition alone can cause some people to be skeptical, especially learning that their food is coming from a laboratory. This has led many critics to call GMOs “frankenfoods.”
However, a tremendous amount of studies have been done by the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. None of these organizations have been able to find anything dangerous about GMOs.
A study done by two scientists from the University of California Davis reviewed the animals’ health over a 29 year period, before and after GMOs were introduced. Studies showed that animals who were fed 100 percent non-GMO feed and animals that were fed 90 percent GMO feed were both in the same health. Also, it was discovered that both feeds were equally nutritious.
For some reason, people still seem to be afraid of these “frankenfoods” despite all of the evidence that proves they are not harmful. It could be that GMOs have not been around long enough, but not everyone seems to trust them.
The rest of the world has a similar fear that GMOs could be harmful to humans. In over 60 countries, there are restrictions or bans on GMOs. Some of these countries include Japan, Australia, and all countries in the European Union. Conversely, in the United States, 80 percent of conventional processed foods are GMOs.
People are afraid of the unknown. One big trend today, especially in American society, is all natural, organic foods. If you can grow it yourself, it is probably best for you. Science tends to scare some people, and because GMOs are scientific in nature, some haven’t jumped on the bandwagon. The idea that something is better for you because it’s natural is a social construction. It could be argued that “natural” things, like corn syrup (which is in almost everything we eat) is poisonous to our health. High fructose corn syrup has been used as a substitute for regular sugar because it is cheaper and sweeter. Corn syrup has been thought to have led to the obesity epidemic that has hit the United States over the past couple of decades.
Just because something is natural does not mean it is always better for you. GMOs have proven not to be a threat to human health, so why is there still so much fear?
Science is a tricky topic of discussion for most people because it can become so complicated. If scientists took the time and effort to explain GMOs to the public, then maybe people would learn that they pose no harm. Once they learn that GMOs are not harmful, labeling may be something that people no longer view necessary.