Do you know that GMOs make up to 75% of the ingredients in most foods in your supermarket and grocery stores today?
You may know or not it, but the truth is that GMOs make up for a very significant percentage of your daily diet especially if you eat corn-based products, papaya, soybeans and related products, squash, sugar beet, tomatoes, potatoes among other foods.
Scientists across the globe have been experimenting with GMOs for many years now. A majority of them who are pro GMOs insist that the use of biotechnology to alter the DNA of plants and animals is meant to help the global population produce more food that is disease resistant and that is tastier/leaner and better in most ways.
But even though developers are doing their best to produce GN foods that are safe for human consumption, there are still controversies and concerns surrounding the practice of genetic modification and use of its resulting products.
Here some of the advantages and disadvantages of GM foods.
Advantages of genetically modified foods
Supporters of genetic modification claim that GMOs can help to sustain the ever-increasing global population better. For this claim, they allude to several reasons.
- Have more nutrients
Among the various issues facing the global population today, malnutrition is one that is taking a severe toll in most nations, especially in third world countries.
In these regions, adults and children alike die every day due to inadequate nutrient and minerals. Most genetically engineered foods are improved to provide for better nutritional value than what is received from traditional foods. And as experts continue to work on this aspect of nutrition, we can be sure that GMOs will play a significant role in alleviating the problem of nutritional deficiency worldwide.
- Pest resistant
Based on several annual agricultural reports, farmers across the globe suffer from losses majorly due to pest infestation in their crops and livestock.
With most people today avoiding eating foods grown with pesticides (as these are potentially harmful to overall body health), growing GM foods can help to eradicate the use of pesticides while also reducing the cost of food production.
- Disease resistant
It is proven that most GM foods are resistant to the various plant and animal diseases. This, therefore, helps to improve the quality and quantity of produce as farmers have less to deal with regarding crop and livestock diseases.
- No allergies
Unlike most processed foods that contain harmful allergens, most GM foods are modified to prevent allergies. So there are no limitations as to who can and who can’t eat DNA enhanced foods.
- Increased food production
Genetically engineered foods are a pest, insect, disease, and weather resistant. These are some of the elements that contribute to lower yields and agricultural losses for farmers. But since GM foods have all these under control, it paves ways for increased farm produce that allows poorer nations to feed their people better.
Disadvantages of genetically modified foods
Advocates against the production and use of DNA enhanced foods argue that such foods may have devastating effects on nature. Some of the downsides of GM foods cited by these groups and experienced from their use include;
There are concerns that GM crops can cross-pollinate with other plants grown in a field creating superweeds that are impossible to kill. You might not know it, but the truth is that you cannot genuinely separate GM foods from non-GM foods grown in the same field.
- Unclear labels
It is imperative that consumers are made aware of the products they consume. But contrary to this, the production and use of GM foods are not regulated. As such, manufacturers are not mandated to label their products so that the public can be aware that their food is genetically modified.
For this, lobbyists are concerned that the general public is not given a choice of whether to eat or not eat DNA enhanced foods.
- Unknown health risks
It is sad that while experts are trying to develop foods that are more resistant to pests and insects, they forget about the wellbeing of the end user. By this I mean, that GM foods are engineered to resist potent pesticides and herbicides as these are taken up by the plants. When we eat these plants, we also consume the pesticide, insecticides, and herbicides in them.
Well, ask yourself this question, if these chemicals can kill insects, weeds, and other pests, can’t they affect you?
Also, the process of gene modification involves transferring certain viruses from two different species. One such virus used in bioengineering is par retrovirus which is much similar to HIV and hepatitis B virus. So really, we can’t tell what health risks eating genetically modified foods exposes us to.
- Increased diseases
Reports show that continued consumptions of some GM foods can cause cancer, allergic reactions, and births defects among other health risks.
As earlier stated, GM foods are not regulated at least not in most parts of the world. So it is challenging to know if the food you are eating is safe or not.
- You can’t avoid them
Avoiding GM foods is close to impossible. This is because these foods are everywhere, in every grocery store, shop, supermarket shelve, etc. And to make matters worse, there aren’t any labels on products indicating that they are genetically modified.
Well, it is evident that there isn’t one single thing that is 100% good. Pros and cons have to be there. And in this case, genetically modified foods are neither good nor bad. In this regard, nations all over the world have held summits and forums to discuss the potential concerns of genetic modification of foods. Some governments choose to restrict the production and use of GM foods like the UK while some just think that GM foods are okay and only more testing should be done to ensure their safety.
But irrespective of what you choose to believe, it is vital that you know and understands all about genetically modified foods. This knowledge will help you to make healthy choices regarding the food you consume.