GMO chart

GMOs and Your Health Part 2: Tried and True

In May of 2016, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine issued one of the most far-reaching and intense studies done on Genetically Modified Food (Lynas). After studying hundreds of documents, hours of testimonies from various viewpoints, and volumes of public comments, the scientists concluded that they “found no substantiated evidence that foods from GE (Genetically Engineered) crops were less safe than foods from non-GE crops.”

  Through this study, it has been proven that GMOs do not cause major health problems such as cancer, kidney disease, obesity, diabetes, Celtic disease, allergies, and autism. These conclusions came from reviewing patterns of each illness in two countries. The first was the United States where 95% of sugar beets, 88% of corn, and 94% of soybeans are genetically modified (“Why are GMOs Bad?”). The second country was the United Kingdom where genetic modification of organisms is scarce (Lynas).  The trends of cancer, Celtics disease, and autism were similar in both countries. Kidney disease has barely changed over the past 50 years. Also, there is no link between genetically modified or engineered food and allergies, obesity, and diabetes to be found. 

GMO chart
Fig. 1 GMOs have increased in use since the mid-1990s (Lynch)

Nothing New Here

Scientists and farmers have been modifying organisms for thousands of years. Not only food but medicine as well. We have found a way to genetically manufacture insulin, a practice which is greatly accepted. If the public is okay with their medicine being genetically engineered, why aren’t they okay with their food being made the same way? While we may not have known exactly how we were getting the results we were, farmers have been tinkering with genes since their beginning.

Wild cabbage is the ancestor to dozens of garden staples. Some common examples are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and kale (“Why are GMOs Bad”). We have done the same with our animals. Farmers breed the best of their livestock in hopes to pass on the best traits to the next generations. This is the practice of artificial selection or selective breeding. This process of selective breeding is crossing two plants or animals together and hoping for the best. Genetic modification eliminates this factor of guessing and allows us to control which traits we see in the next generation of plants or animals. (“Are GMOs Good or Bad?”). The practice of genetically modifying crops is also growing in popularity and spreading into some of the most advanced countries around the world. Commercial cultivations of crops such as corn, cotton, and soybeans have expanded into countries like Brazil, Argentina, India, Canada, and China on top of the United States since the 1990s.

To read the first part of this series, please click here.

Sources

“Are GMOs Good or Bad? Genetic Engineering & Our Food.” Are GMOs Good or Bad? Genetic Engineering & Our Food, Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell , 30 Mar. 2017, www.youtube.com/user/Kurzgesagt.

Lynas, Mark. “GMO Safety Debate Is Over.” Cornell Alliance for Science, Cornell Alliance for Science , 24 May 2016, allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/mark-lynas/gmo-safety-debate-over.

Lynch, Brendan, editor. “GMOs in US Food Crops.” WGBH News, WGBH News, 6 Oct. 2015, news.wgbh.org/post/genetically-modified-food-worries-outstrip-science.

“Why Are GMOs Bad?” Performance by Hank Green, Why Are GMOs Bad?, SciShow, 10 July 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=sH4bi60alZU.

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