What about GMOs?
If you live in California, or were paying attention to food and wellness blogs last year, you might have heard that California voters were asked to decide whether producers of foods made with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) should be required to label their products. After a long and at times ugly fight, the people of California decided not to require GMO labeling. One upshot has been the attention to GMOs nationally.
So what is a GMO?
In essence, a GMO is an organism whose genetic makeup has been altered to add desirable traits. One of the most common is Monsanto’s “Round-Up Ready” crops, which make plants impervious to the broad spectrum pesticide Round-Up. This is done in a few different ways, but most companies use a virus or bacteria to deliver DNA-altering genetic material into the plant.
While many argue that genetically modifying crops allow for higher yields and thus lower food prices, there’s a great deal of evidence that these crops also cause extensive damage to the ecosystem. And there’s very little effort put into studying the long term health effects from consuming these crops.
Are GMOs Safe?
Well, that’s something that scientists disagree on. There’s far less research money available to studying health effects than studying marketability. Initial testing (mostly done by the companies who create or use GMOs,) show that there shouldn’t be any major health risks, but realistically it’s far too soon to tell.
What is clear is that GMOs and their usage increases monocultures- a bioengineered corn field contains almost nothing but that species of corn- virtually no other plants, no insects, no birds. And that will have a clearly detrimental effect on the surrounding ecosystem.
So, while GMOs probably won’t kill you, perhaps we should consider not using them until we know more about them.