More Food or Healthy Food?
by Payton Whedbee
The debate of whether genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are good or bad for you is a long lived, controversial subject with no definite answer. Genetically modifying organisms may induce a plethora of unpredictable side effects. For example, increasing the use of herbicides may lead to negative impacts on environmental and human health. However, with that said, popular belief is that they yield higher crop production. There exists a body of research to dispel this idea. The research points toward there being more negative effects of GMOs than positive ones.
To begin with, changing DNA for agricultural purposes impacts the environment negatively, such as increased herbicide use and the contamination of crops that insects feed on. For example, John Losey an assistant professor at Cornell University conducted an experiment on insects and concluded that, “The caterpillars feeding on those leaves dusted with the BT corn pollen ate less, they grew more slowly, and they suffered higher mortality. More of them died than in the other two treatments. In fact, almost half of those died--44 percent died over 4 days.” This exemplifies the negative impact that GMOs have on the environment. The advantages of continued GMO use do not outweigh the advantages of natural food production from traditional farming procedures.
Furthermore, another reason GMOs are considered bad for you are the toll they take on human health. Jane Rissler, Senior Staff Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists states that, “How could there be evidence if they haven't allowed the food to be labeled? They're now saying, "Well, there's no evidence of harm." But that is because they haven't allowed any way to track any harm.” Elaborating on that statement, if GMO foods aren’t labelled then it is that bad for health reasons concerning diets.
On the other hand, GMOs have been said to yield more per crop than non-GMO crops. In the past this was not heavily researched. However in a final report called Failure to Yield conducted by “The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development” (IAASTD) states that, “more than 400 scientists and backed by 58 governments, stated that GMO crop yields were “highly variable” and in some cases, “yields declined.” This means that although most people believe that crop production is positively impacted by larger yield sizes, this report clearly refutes that misconception. There exists no real research implying that GMOs crop result in higher yields overall.
In a final analysis of this debate, one can conclude that there are far more facts pointing to the idea that GMOs increase herbicide use, and are responsible for many negative affects to human and environmental health, without any proven increase in food production.