GMOs: Your Right To Know

Food companies have a long history of abandoning what is best for the consumer for what is best for profits. There should be no doubt the same is occurring in the labs of GMO producers, like Monsanto and DuPont. As consumers, we have a right to know exactly what we are consuming.

GMO stands for genetically modified organisms, also known as transgenic and genetically engineered organisms; created by inserting the genes of one organism into an unrelated species. Simply, GMOs are living creatures that have been altered by adding another organism’s DNA. GMOs have been present in our society for longer than most realize.  Today, 90% of all soy and 80% of all corn produced in the United States is genetically modified.

GMO producers claim four main purposes for GMOs, including resistance to insects or viruses, tolerance to herbicide, enhanced nutritional quality and increased food production. However, an objective scientific study proving the safety of these products has yet to be completed. Any other product set to be sold to the public must be thoroughly investigated to prove its safety, and yet companies like Monsanto are forcing the public to trust their opinion; their credibility is based on biased experiments.

According to an article in the Avicenna Journal of Medical Biotechnology, scientists and agriculturists believe the potential health, environmental and agricultural risks are severe. Human health risks might include cancer, birth defects and autoimmune diseases. The  environment could experience a drastic loss in diversity due to pollen from GMO plants contaminating neighboring fields of non-GMO plants or insects crucial to the pollination dying due to toxicity from the pesticides and herbicides within the GMO plant. Agriculturists are already witnessing the contamination of GMO seeds on organic farms and fear the growth of GMOs could lead to the monopolization of the produce industry, with a handful of companies controlling the food supply.

Over 50 countries around the world, including China, Russia, Greece and Australia, have label requirements for and strict restrictions or bans on GMO products. The United States does not have such regulations. The only way consumers can avoid GMO products is to buy products with a seal from the USDA National Organic Standards or Non-GMO Project. The USDA National Organic Standards prohibit the use of GMOs, while the Non-GMO Project ensures that the products have been produced under strict guidelines designed to avoid GMO contamination.

GMO producers and GMO supporters claim that labeling will merely confuse consumers and feel that, since there have been no studies showing negative effects from GMOs, there should be no concern. A look at history shows us that this argument is flawed. Take trans-fat for example. Trans-fat was created to cut down the consumption of saturated fats, which were believed to be the cause of numerous health problems. After thorough research, scientists concluded that trans-fat is actually worse than saturated fats and can cause health problems far beyond what was initially believed.

The bottom line. GMOs are being forced into the diets of consumers despite growing concern. With the lack of significant data proving GMOs safe or dangerous, there is no way for anyone to know what long-term side effects could result. However, by labeling all products containing GMOs, consumers gain the right to choose. For those who believe GMOs are safe, the labels can be ignored. For those who believe GMOs are hazardous, the labels provide the right to choose what is consumed.

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