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How Safe are GMO’s: Unraveling the Truth

In recent years, the debate surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has grown more intense, with questions and concerns about their safety taking center stage. GMOs are organisms whose genetic material has been altered in a way that doesn’t occur naturally through traditional breeding methods. While proponents argue that GMOs can help address global food shortages and improve crop yields, critics express worries about potential health and environmental risks. As consumers, it’s essential to be informed and understand the science behind GMOs to make well-informed decisions about their safety and impact on our health. In this article, we will delve into the topic of GMO safety, exploring the latest research and shedding light on the complexities of this controversial issue.

The term Genetically Modified Organisms (often abbreviated as GMOs) has been casually and scientifically used for some time and is becoming more of a mainstream topic and will continue to be a source of discussion, particularly for those focused on our health and wellbeing.  We hear about GMO’s in our daily conversations, scientific research, forum dialogues, and even marketing advertisements. The question as to whether GMO’s are safe for us will become more relevant as time goes on. It is a relatively new topic, since genetic engineering has only existed for around 32 years and its commercialization was only started in the year of 1976.

GMOs are included within the scope of so many life sciences branch, such as biology, medical research, pharmaceutical production and agriculture to name a few. GMOs have been researched and studied to extensive depth, however as its existence is relatively new, more discoveries are to be found in order to obtain a thorough and convincing conclusions about GMO issues.

How Safe Are GMO’s?

Our focus is to continue getting healthy and staying healthy, but time will tell if GMO products can help or hinder our health. In deciding courses of action that should be taken towards treating GMOs and GMO products, however, one must be extremely careful and sensible as there are numerous myths circulating around the world wide web regarding GMOs, of which are essentially untrue. Some of the myths and facts with regards to GMOs and its products are as follows:

Myth: GMO products are safe enough to eat

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It would be imprudent to conclude that GMO products are always safe enough to eat. Researches have shown that genetically modified food products may be allergenic, nutritionally changed, and even be toxic to some extent. This may be caused by the difference in composition between genetically modified crops if compared to their fellow non-genetically modified peer, despite the fact that the two crops are planted at the same time, in the same place and given the same treatment.

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What is the nutritional content of your food.

Changed nutritional content of a genetically modified food product may be dangerous in several ways. The first plausible danger caused by changed nutritional content of a genetically modified food would be the direct effect to human health who consumes the food through nourishing a condition of excess of shortage of certain nutrients in the body instead of replenishing it.

The second danger would be through the changed biochemical processes within the crop itself. This may result in unexpected or even unidentified changes which may impact human’s health, which may be closely linked to altered allergenicity or toxicity.

Myth: The genetically modified genes in the genetically modified products will not spread to its non-genetically modified products and organic counterparts

GMO industries used to express that modified genes contamination of non-genetically modified crops would not occur, whereas this means that the farmers’ and consumers’ preference would be kept pure and preserved. However, scientific researches have shown that genetically modified products contamination is inevitable when the genetically modified crops are planted within a region, coexisting with non-genetically modified and organic crops.

How Safe Are GMOs?

Genetic Modification of Seeds
The seed of a genetically modified herbicide tolerant plants can stay and remain living in soil for years, whereas genetically modified herbicide resistant volunteer plants that were not planted on purpose but were shed from the previous genetically modified crops grown in the field, were found growing years and years even after the time when the aforesaid genetically modified crops were planted. This causes genetically modified genes to be present in up to 80 percent of the wild plants found.

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This genetic modification contamination may cause severe economic impact, such as for example endangering the livelihoods and prosperity of organic plant farmers who receive payment for their organic and non-genetically modified crops. Stretched out further, it may impede export markets to countries which apply strict GMO regulations.

Myth: Genetic modification of crops brings in more profits for farmers

Economic benefits of genetically modified crops on farmers cannot be analyzed by only using a single variable, where a complex and thorough research must be conducted in order to obtain a reliable conclusion. A conclusion that genetic modification of crops alone will bring in more money for farmers can never be reliable, as there are also other factors which affect economic benefits of farmers.

How Safe Are GMOs?

The first factor which affects farmers’ economic benefits would be crop suitability for local conditions, which of course is true because the more suitable and adaptable the crop is to local condition the higher chance it will have of producing better crops in a larger quantity. The second factor which is closely related to the first would be the farmer’s access to irrigation. Even though some plants thrive and grow better in a drier climate, however it is of common perception that the more irrigated the farm is, the better and the higher quantity will the products be at the harvesting season. This being said, better access to irrigation may cause farmers to gain higher economical benefits.

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Economic Benefits of Genetic Modification

Aside from the two aforementioned factors which is considered to be a more internal element as it involves the farmer and his/her planting process, there are also external factors to be considered, such as availability of markets for the crops and governmental or corporation subsidies or incentives.

Even though the crops are harvested in a large quantity and of superior quality, if the market feasibility or availability does not support the selling process, at the end it will automatically mean that the farmer will not get a large profit as expected. Having the right markets and target consumers is also essential for the farmers to obtain a large profit from the crops.

Last but not least, economical benefits of farmers may be affected by available subsidies or incentives from either the government or corporations. More subsidies or incentives received by farmers will very likely be beneficial, as farmers receive assistance and financial support to ensure better or more crops at the harvesting season.

In conclusion, by simply modifying the crops genetically, there is no guarantee that the farmers will get a higher income and profits if compared to farmers who market organic or non-genetically modified crops. We need to keep asking ourselves if GMO’s are safe for us? Will they help us get healthier?

Especially when faced with illness, the road to getting healthier is through nutrition and eating a diet with as many organic products as possible is primary. It is even more possible for farmers who market organic or non-genetically modified crops to get more profits, as people nowadays are aware of the adverse effects of eating genetically modified products so much that they may prefer organic plants for their daily consumption.

Updated Aug 1, 2023

Dr. Patrick Quillin

Dr. Patrick Quillin, PhD,RD,CNS is an internationally recognized expert in the area of nutrition and health. He has 30 years experience as a clinical nutritionist, of which 10 years were spent as the Vice President for a leading cancer hospital system where he worked with thousands of cancer patients in a hospital setting. He is a Best Selling Author with 18 books which have sold over 2,000,000 copies and also a Keynote Speaker.

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