Genetically modified foods don’t have adverse health effects
In an age where people are fixated on where their food comes from, the term “genetically modified” calls to mind a subversion of nature that causes outrage among a large percentage of the public.
A survey released by the Pew Research Center in Nov. 2018 about the American opinion of GM foods revealed that 49 percent of those surveyed claimed GM foods “are worse for one’s health,” while 44 percent felt it was “neither better nor worse” and just 5 percent said GM ingredients were “better for one’s health.”
Based on these results, the use of technological advancements in agricultural production has evidently raised concerns about how natural the food we eat really is.
This concern has caused an uptick in the sale of organic products, which are made with natural substances and physical, mechanical or biologically based methods as much as possible, according to the USDA.
Research found that people’s concerns over GM foods were predominantly based in ideology, and they were concerned with the presence of artificial coloring, artificial preservatives, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones in their food. Other concerns include vague and undemonstrative effects on nutrition or the introduction of toxins into the body.
The evidence in favor of GM foods does not reflect these narrow-minded ideologies. In fact, humans have been tampering with their food for many years. Scientists have bred modern-day bananas and corn into existence, in addition to crops more resistant to pests and environmental stressors.
This tampering isn’t just limited to our food, either. Our entire world, the ecosystem of modern humanity, is based on us altering our environment to our desires. Modern medicine keeps us alive much longer. Technology opens up avenues to entertainment.
Humans have even gone so far as to tamper with our own biology, with the transplantation of organs and the construction of prosthetics. This shows that we cherry-pick the forms of tampering and advancement we are comfortable with.
GM foods are often maligned by the suspicion that our food is being altered for the worse.
The truth is, GM foods are modified to better fit our needs. For example, GM foods can decrease dangerous pesticide usage by being naturally resistant to pests. They can increase yield and feed many more people than the natural crop alone. They can even reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which is a great boon to the current state of the global climate.
For example, a series of 76 studies conducted by associate researcher of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna Land Lab, Elisa Pellegrino, found that genetically-modified corn has a higher yield than non-modified corn and contains less toxins, in contrast to what GM food opponents may believe.
GM opponents often resort to long-term safety concerns as the basis for their argument.
A 2016 report by the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine concluded that, while they can’t prove GM foods have long-term health consequences, they found no more significant adverse health effects than their non-GM counterparts.
That’s not to say GM foods should be blindly accepted. Rather, we should research the topic and make decisions based on individual needs, not extremist ideology. As the public continues their education on the safety and benefit of GM foods, the stigma around them will decline.
Opinion columnist Ian Everett is a communications major and can be reached at [email protected].