What’s what about GMOs

For this post, we decided to refute arguments against Genetically Modified Food, one of today’s most controversial topics.  To do this, I’m going to analyze an article by animalrights.com.  The three arguments I will refute are as follows.

1. GMOs have not been tested thoroughly. GMO safety tests are sometimes as short as 90 days, which is not long enough to prove that a substance is safe for long-term, multi-generational human consumption.

2. GMOs will inevitably lead to more monoculture, which is dangerous because it threatens the biological diversity of our food supply.

3. Genetically modified plants or animals could interbreed with wild populations, creating problems such as population explosions or crashes, problems with corresponding predator or prey species, or offspring with dangerous traits.

The first claim, that GMOs have not been tested enough is quite inaccurate.  In fact, according to Dr. Trewas, a 40 year old plant biologist, claimed that that before being served to the public, “GM crops must satisfy 50 pages of regulations, 4 years of safety tests, and pass 3-4 committees” . Clearly, these foods have been extensively tested, and all  genetically modified foodstuffs have to pass through the FDA before being fed to the public (154).

The second claim, that GMOs will lead to a lack of biodiversity is also refutable.  For this, I will refer to the study done by Dr. Entcheva and her team, which was featured in a previous post.  In the study, Dr. Entcheva discovered that alterations performed on an organism carry over to the next generation, even when cloned.  Furthermore, Dr. Trewas claims that many plants are being infused with different hormones and vaccines to fight off diseases like E. coli, hepatitis B, and cholera, and have had some success with these genes transferring to the next generation.

The third and final argument to be refuted claims that GM animals and plants have the danger of breeding with other organisms in the wild.  This too is incorrect.  According to Dr. Trewas, scientists are diligent about keeping this from happening and always separate GM organisms from their natural counterparts.

Trewas, Anthony. Food Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press 2002. Pring

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC92523/

http://animalrights.about.com/od/animalsusedforfood/a/Arguments-For-And-Against-Genetically-Modified-Organisms_2.htm

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