Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are considered both bad and good. Rejection against this biotechnology has long since been rooted in a proprietary fear of uncertainty and is defended by a vacuous general public. However, GMOs are not harmful to the public, as many assume. According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, [there is] “no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between current commercially available GMO crops and conventionally bred crops.” The call to attention, then, is the increasing weed and insect resistance to GMOs. The focus should be on mitigating pest and herbicide tolerance, which can increase the production of potentially harmful chemicals.
|[Young Soo Kim chugging a non-GMO Acai drink,
photo courtesy of Grace S. Kim.]
Herbicides have become increasingly less effective as weeds develop a greater tolerance-- to the point where the rate of such large quantities of toxins being used would be more harmful to the plants than the weeds. Nonetheless, the process of developing those GM crops allowed farmers to be capable of resisting huge applications of herbicides without retaining damage. Some select crops have been developed to produce doses of pesticide within the plant’s own tissue, a borrowed gene from the bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis, created to destroy an insect’s digestive system. A question of health, a recurrent concern made by the populace, is whether or not those small dosages of herbicide within the crop are harmful to humans. The difference between weeds or insects and larger mammals is the perspective of how the toxins are being ingested. What is poisonous to one species can be harmless to another-- for example, chocolate can be as harmful to humans as it is to dogs, but only if a person eats 15.7 kg or 12.5 pounds of it. Using this same analogy, glyphosate is only harmful to humans if consumed in ridiculous amounts.
Notwithstanding the negative GMO connotation, GMO labels have no significant effect on sales, according to Jane Kolodinsky in https://tinyurl.com/yceabbls. In fact, these labels are viewed as a catalyst in consumer confidence. By informing the public about a food company’s use of GMOs, it promotes a connection of trust between the provider and the consumer. Currently, there is no nation-wide GMO labeling law in South Korea. This is fine because, as of now, GMOs are safe and the chemicals used to treat GM crops are safe. If there is to be a labeling law passed, however, it will help to disclose more about what consumers eat.
|[Acai drink displaying a non-GMO label, photo courtesy of Grace S. Kim]
Gene Kim, a pre-med college student of UIUC, volunteered to add an independent perspective.
Me: “Are you for or against the consumption of GMOs?”
Gene Kim: “We already eat so many of them, so it’s kind of dumb to be against GMOs. They have been helping us eat so much-- they are already so incorporated into our diet. So, no, I’m not against it.”
Me: “Then what do you think of Anti-GMO lobbyists?”
Gene Kim: “I only think their opinion comes from a misunderstanding of GMOs. Of course, there are people who can be specifically allergic to genetically modified food-- there are people allergic to everything in this world. But to make that an exception for everyone, when only a few people have that allergy, is not a smart way of influencing the people around you. I mean, individuals can choose to not eat GMOs-- that’s fine. But there are other people who can and would want to eat GMOs, so don’t hinder them from eating GMOs.”
GMOs are not bad. Actually, GMOs shouldn’t be a focus while there are other foods with real harmful constituents. For example, fish with artificial coloring from cheap ingredients, which can happen when a product is sold from second-hand venders instead of an original supplier, and the use of food dyes and artificial food colorings like Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6.
Grace S. Kim
Barrington High School
Grace S. Kim firstname.lastname@example.org
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