GMOs — okay for consumption?

Originally Published: February 14, 2014
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Dear Alice,

What are the pros and cons for considering GMOs? (Especially in our daily food consumption?)

Dear Reader,

GMOs are controversial — and so, as you might have guessed, the pros and cons are continuously being debated. GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. GM foods are developed — and marketed — because there is some perceived advantage to either producers or consumers. Companies that produce GM foods believe that genetic modification can result in increased production of foods as well as crops that have higher nutritional value.

On the other hand, there are several arguments that GMOs are dangerous, both to humans and the environment. The main concerns about GMOs in relation to human health are the potential to cause allergic reactions, gene transfer to human bacteria and toxicity. No dedicated human experiments with GMOs have been conducted, but animal studies with different genetically modified crops have yielded worrisome results, including demonstrating that GMO consumption is linked with infertility, immune issues, insulin regulation problems and changes in vital organs including the liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal system.

There are also environmental concerns related to GM crops, including their potential effects on ecological systems and their stability in the environment. There is a risk that engineered genes could be introduced into wild populations, harming beneficial species and reducing biodiversity. As of now there has been no evidence that GMOs are a threat to human health, and over two billion acres of genetically modified crops have been cultivated. All GM foods currently available on the international market have undergone risk assessments to determine any impact they may have on human health or the environment.

GMOs remain a controversial issue and many large health organizations have yet to present a perspective on them. Ultimately, each GMO is different and needs to be individually studied and assessed. Keep your eyes and ears open as more information about GMOs becomes available.

Alice