With non GMO ice cream, strawberry yogurt, fresh corn, and seeds filling up the aisles in Safeway, it seems pretty much everyone associates GMOs with ‘bad’, but what is actually harmful about GMOs? Why did they get such a terrible reputation?
First off, GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are any organisms whose genetic makeup has been manipulated in a laboratory through transgenic technology or genetic engineering in order to exhibit favorable traits. The combinations of genes from plants, animals, bacteria, viruses, or other genes do not occur naturally (even by natural crossbreeding).
This genetic modification was used at first to make plants/ animals able to withstand herbicide, or even produce insecticide. However, these technologies are now being utilized to create new organisms and to even keep crops ripe for unnatural periods of time. Additionally, there has been no substantial evidence that GMOs provide benefits for consumers.
Animal products such as eggs, milk, seafood, meat, and honey are highly impacted by the surge of GMOs, as GMOs are usually present in animal feed. GMOs can also be present as processed crop derivatives in molasses, sucrose, flavoring, vitamins, sweeteners, and yeast products.
How are GMOs unhealthy then? No one really knows. Without long term studies of the effects of GMOs regarding health, the true safety of GMOs has not been established. This uncertainty and grey area has contributed to GMOs bad reputation. However, recent studies have not shown any highly concerning effects of GMOs. Regardless, people have chosen to avoid GMOs because of this reason, the unknown can be daunting. It’s better to be safe than sorry.