The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Debate on GMOs

Genetically modified organisms, or GMO’s, have been a huge topic of discussion for Americans in the past ten years.

The general consensus of studies on genetically modified organisms for consumption is that there is usually risk. They have no harm on your health – or at least no more than non-GMO foods.

The basis of how GMO’s are created are essential to understanding the potential health risks and the debate on whether or not they should continue to exist.

GMO’s are created through the splicing and insertion of genes.

Take a piece of corn, for example. There are many traits that farmers want for it to have. These traits can include anything from resistance to pesticides and insects, resistance to heat and cold, and also better growth in dryer areas. They all serve to maximize the potential yield of the crop, which leads to higher profits.

The way that scientists and farmers achieve these characteristics is by inserting genes, which in turn create proteins that help the corn express these traits.

Many people believe that the GMO’s have parts of their DNA created from the lab – this is not true. The genes come from other organisms that are then inserted into the DNA of the corn.

However, the potential health risks of GMO’s arise from what kinds of genes are inserted into the crops. Typically, the genes that code for higher drought tolerance have no measurable effect on our health, but many people are concerned with the introduction of potentially harmful genes. There have studies that link to genes in GMOs that code for proteins that cause allergic reactions in some people.

However, the FDA’s website states that “when new genetic traits are introduced into plants, the developer evaluates whether any new material could be (1) allergenic or (2) toxic if consumed in foods made from the genetically engineered plants or from ingredients derived from these plants.”

The reality of the situation is that the GMO’s are usually monitored in some kind of form or have had studies conducted on determining their long term effect.

Opponents to GMO’s have pointed out lax government regulation on GMO’s – for example, the lack of labeling of GMO’s is a commonly cited concern amongst this group.

The actual health effects of GMO can vary, but they’re generally considered safe. However, another part of the debate is the effect GMO’s have on the environment.

GM plants are typically engineered to be “insect resistant, virus resistant, or herbicide tolerant.” The effect that these traits have on the environment can be drastic.

The effect of GM plants on natural organisms, such as bees and butterflies, can be detrimental. The population of bees are at risk due to farming techniques that include GMOs. Many monarch butterfly populations have also been reduced due to the new strain of insect-resistant corn’s pollen.

Organism diversity and outcrossing are concerns that people have to pay attention to as well.

The ISAAA defines outcrossing as the “unintentional breeding of a domestic crop with a related plant,” and cites concerns such as the GMO’s “potential to create new weeds through outcrossing with wild relatives, or simply by persisting in the wild themselves.”

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