Health pioneers continue to intensify the debate between genetically modified organisms and non-GMOs. GMOs have had their genetic material artificially manipulated through genetic engineering.
Supporters of genetic modification state that the technology is a simple extension of plant breeding. However, others say that scientists break down nature’s genetic barriers by transferring genes with unknown consequences.
The Global Politics of Food completed a study that found, “No one has substantiated a single human death, or even illness, as a result of consuming GM food.”
Many farmers support the genetic mutation of crops and animals for economic reasons. When using genetically modified seeds, farmers are able to produce a better crop, or a larger cut of meat. This lowers the cost of produce and meat for the consumer.
“I have been farming for many years and I have seen the transition into GM seeds and the crops they produce. I feel as if the GMOs help people like me produce the product that customers want,” Fred Williams said.
GMO foods are banned in 19 countries, excluding the United States. Some of the genetically modified crops allowed in the U.S. are corn, soybean, cotton, canola, potato and apple. Many large companies give their cows rBGH (Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) to boost their growth. Other animals, including chickens and pigs, are given hormones and antibiotics to protect them from diseases they might encounter since they are often kept in small cages filled with their own feces.
Those who support the non-GMO movement claim that there is not enough research concerning the health effects of GM foods to have confidence in their safety. Researchers believe one of the most popular side effects is increased food allergies; others claim that GMOs cause cancer.
A study in Canada showed that a Bt toxin, found in GM corn, was found in the fetuses of pregnant women. The study showed that the Bt toxin does not properly break down in digestion, as GMO proponents claim.
Organic farmers stand by GMO-free seeds and animals to produce their final product. The farmers stray away from pesticides that can be harmful to the environment and human health.
Because of the lack of support from large production chains, organic farmers are burdened with extra work to keep their products GMO free. This drives the price of organic and non-GMO products to almost twice the cost of GM foods.
“About a year ago we began researching non-GMO’s to become educated about the food we feed our children and ourselves. We were shocked to discover how unnatural the vast majority of the food we consumed was,” Dustin and Jessica Hancock said.
“We decided to change to non-GMO and organic foods and it has made a huge difference in our daily lives and we know we are creating a healthy future for our children.”
The health debate will continue, and the marketplace will decide who the winner is.