Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are part of our world now. They have found their way into our ecosystem, and they’ve made their way into many of the products we find on our shelves, primarily without us knowing about it. Concomitantly, they’ve continued to find their way into our national discourse.
There are many implications for the introduction of GMOs into our food system and ecology. There are a few key concerns, however, that have dominated the discourse.
The first of these concerns is the ability of GMO species to interfere with or even decimate a natural species within a system. One of the best examples of this genetically modified salmon. GM salmon are stronger and larger that salmon found in nature. They are engineered this way to render more meat for sale. However, in the even that such a salmon escape into the wild, the fear is that the genetically modified salmon’s genes could take over the population, given it’s manmade advantages. While this might seem far-fetched, is a legitimate concern raised by many ecological scientists.
Another concern of genetically modified organisms is the associated over-use of pesticides. Generally, organisms are genetically modified to make them resistant to
pesticides, allowing for a greater volume of pesticides to be used. This has dire implications for soil, and the greater environment, as more and more toxic chemicals are leached into groundwater, streams and soil.
GMOs also work towards reducing genetic diversity––an important part of survival within organisms and the health of ecosystems. Furthermore,
This is all to say nothing of the health implications of GMOs. An while there is quite a bit of information available concerning GMOs in regards to our health on both sides of the debate––some of it credible, some of it less than credible––debates over the health safety of GMOs seem to do nothing more than spark inflamed rhetoric on both sides.
Generally, people that err on the natural side of health are staunchly against GMOs in our food supply; the most vocal proponents of GMOs in our food tend to be the producers of such products. These purveyors insist upon the safety of such products.
Despite all arguments, it is currently legal in the United States to produce food containing genetically modified plants and animals.
But how do you know whether the food you are eating contains genetically modified organisms? You don’t, necessarily, because food producers aren’t required to label food containing such organisms in many states. While some states do require GMO foods to be labeled, there is no federal law requiring the labeling of foods containing GMOs. While many states are working towards such labeling, others such as California have blocked legislation requiring such. Needless to say, lots of moneyed interests are involved in preventing such labeling laws.
However, regardless of whether GMOs are safe for consumption (a claim that isn’t totally substantiated), consumers should at the very least least be able to choose whether or not to support companies that sell GMO products. This is a basic right––to have the full knowledge of a product you are buying and consuming. These products, at the very least, should be labeled; we should not be kept in the dark about what is in our food. And, furthermore, we should be able to decide whether we want to be the long-term guinea pigs of big agra-businesses.
Stay informed. Contact your representatives in government. Make your voice heard. You deserve to know what you’re eating.