Sophia Sabini-Leite, Writer

Agriculture has a very important part in our economy; but are GMOs helping the agricultural industry and what health benefits are there, if any?

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These combinations of genes from different species do not occur naturally.

As our global population grows, food is becoming more scarce. Hunger in 3rd world countries is worsening, and millions are malnourished. In assisting with a solution to this problem, GM products have shown some benefit. These benefits include creating plants that are resistant to pests, weeds, and some diseases as well as creating foods that have a longer shelf life for easier shipping.

Although GMOs do help the economy, they also do harm.  Many smaller, organic farmers lose money. As farms begin to produce GMOs, neighboring farms that grow organic crops are becoming infested through bee pollination and migrating roots. Many farms must create “buffers”, or barriers, that manage the air, water quality, and filter any unwanted pesticides or chemical nutrients from entering their farms and crops. These barriers not only cost the smaller farmers money but also take up considerable space in which crops could have been planted.

It is widely believed that the introduction of foreign genes into plants and animals has created new allergens and may be the cause of the many mild allergic reactions experienced in individuals globally today. More alarmingly, many children in the USA and in Europe have developed life-threatening allergies to peanuts and other foods. Other than these observed facts, there are also countless unknown, negative effects that these GMOs may be reaping on humans.

In a 2006 study performed by Irina Ermakova of the Russian National Academy of Sciences, more than half of the offspring of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks of birth. Ermakova found that the mortality rate of rats fed GM soy was six times higher than the rats fed conventional soy. Based on her studies, Dr. Ermakova, has serious concerns for the health risk of GMOs on humans.

A fifteen-year-old Non-GMO activist, Rachel Parent, from Toronto, Canada, stands up for the labeling of GMOs on all food products. Parent claims that everyone should have a right to know what is in their food, and there is a simple solution: label it. Various polls show that about 90% of the US population wants GM foods to be labeled.

Let’s make a difference in the health of the world.  Check out the Non-GMO project to learn how you can help.