GMOs: Debunked

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By CASSIE SLANA
Senior Writer
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Genetically Modified Organisms are currently a topic of debate with food labeling and restaurant chains, and people with the strongest opinions regarding the subject are most likely misinformed.
While products without GMOs lack chemical modification, the question still remains about whether or not they are healthy. People make assumptions based on the “NO GMOs” label alone, and that is not an example of informed decision making. Just because something says it has “No GMOs,” doesn’t mean it’s suddenly healthy or the given label is even accurate. People need to be informed on their decisions while purchasing foods, and this trend, although controversial, brings light to a misunderstood subject.
A common myth surrounding GMOs is that they are detrimental to a person’s health because of their modified components. But, according to an article on WebMD, a 2015 Pew Research Center survey found that 9 out of 10 scientists from the American Association of the Advancement of Science say GMOs are generally safe to eat. In that same study, more than half of the general public thought it would be better to steer clear of GMOs altogether.
Shelby Drake, freshman nursing major, said she is concerned about the unknown effects GMOs will have in the future.
“I don’t like all the preservatives,” Drake said.
Contrary to popular belief, GMOs have actually benefitted humans more than harmed. By modifying organisms and mixing species, humans have rid papaya of viruses, created corn that will survive a drought, made corn that won’t bruise and soybeans that are resistant to weed killer, according to a WebMD article.
“All-natural doesn’t necessarily mean all-good,” said Janola Sauther, freshman English major.
Another common myth regarding GMOs is the health problems, allergies and cancers they may cause.
Daniel Plott, student ID and operations manager for the Elliott Student Union, said he thinks GMOs have health consequences.
“After dealing with situations like cancer, the recommendation is to eat more naturally occurring or organic because GMOs aren’t commonly found and introducing them to your body could see some long term effects,” Plott said.
Although it is possible for new genes to evoke a response from the immune system, according to an article in Popular Science, biotech companies do extensive consultations with the Food and Drug Administration to perform multiple allergy and toxicity tests. The FDA has the power to block products if they choose not to undergo these studies. A study in 2012 from the University of Caen in France found GMOs can cause tumors in rats, according to the same article in Popular Science. However, the study was disregarded due to faulty test methods and was retracted in 2013. According to a review of a safety test from the University of Perugia in Italy, 770 of the 1,783 tests performed evaluated the effect GMOs had on human and animal health and found no evidence of harm from the modified foods.
Howard McKenzie, 90, said he thinks GMOs are good for farmers.
“And it’s probably a better product,” McKenzie said.
Most of the myths regarding GMOs stem from misinformation. In an article for Fox Business, Martha Ground, medical director at the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine, said people should be allowed to make their own decisions.
“The tricky part comes in whom we educate, who does the education, and how the information is slanted or spun,” Ground said.
In the same article, Kate Hall, managing director for the Council for Biotechnology Information, said scientific authorities concluded that genetically modified food crops do not pose any more risks to people, animals or the environment than any other foods.
Most GMOs are merely used to take a specific trait from one plant, and transfer it to another plant that they wish to enhance for the benefit of their consumers. GMOs are just a reaction from farmers adapting to the ever changing environment.
Madisen Sherman, senior speech-language pathology major, said the more technology we get, the more we find out about how things affect our daily lives. She said she thinks whether GMOs are harmful or not is up in the air until proper research is conducted.
There are many myths that surround GMOs; their purpose, effects and effectiveness for humans. But by taking a closer, more informed look, people will find they are not as bad as they are depicted to be.