There are lots of rumors going around that genetically modified foods are “mutants” or “unnatural” and therefore dangerous to your health. However, genetically modified foods are generally safe -you should be a LOT more worried about the pesticides they spray on your vegetables!
But there is the concern that if you modify crops too much, they might become “too good.” If these plants somehow started growing in the wild, they could become a very powerful invasive species that might out-compete natural plants and harm the ecosystems that depend on those plants.
Genetically modified foods, or GMOs, are controversial in Europe because of concerns about unproven safety for human health and the environment. The basic concern with growing GMO crops is the potential for spread of the modified seed beyond the intended field, and thus contamination of other plant communities. Beyond this, there is concern about the unknown impact on human health brought on by consumption of GMO foods. Finally, there is international concern about the issue of GMO seeds as a patentable property, owned by private companies yet released into the environment, proving difficult to trace. More detailed discussion is available on the World Health Organization’s website, which can be accessed through the link below.
The debate over GMOs happens in the US, too. I agree with sarahtonin, pesticides are much worse! They are poisons, after all.
Humans have been accidently and purposely genetically modifying food through selection and domestication for thousands of years. By favoring and planting the “best” grains (i.e. biggest and easiest to eat), more will be planted and continue to reproduce until the plant is genetically different from the wild version.
Humans have been genetically modifying plants and animals for thousands of years. When you grow a crop and you select the one that was reddest or grew the tallest and breed it with another that is also that way – you are selecting for the stronger, better plant. Same thing with animals, there really wasn’t a lot of animals with faces so pushed in they can’t actually breathe properly until we bred them that way.
some of the issues with large companies doing it is that they patent the changes they have made. Additionally there is some question about how they are modifying their seeds and possible unkonwn long term safety effects on human health. The other thing to consider is the invasiveness of these plants which can contaminant heirloom and other plant communities – at which point Monsanto or whoever owns the original GMO seed, says the plants are theirs.
Another serious issue is if there isnot enough genetic diversity – it would be fairly easy for something to potentially come along and ruin millions of crops.
I think there is an important distinction being missed in some of these answers. Genetically modified foods is not what humans have been doing for thousands of years, I believe the term is being confused with “artificial selection.” Natural selection is the process by which animals that have the genes that enable them to survive and reproduce is how life evolves. Artificial selection is when human influence that process by crossing members of the same species that have desirable traits that have more to do with nutrition, color, taste, etc. Genetic modification is taking genes from an entirely different species and splicing them into the target species. This is a new process that has not been tested and tried by time as yet, as a brand new genetic makeup is being created, not just selected for.
Corn, to cite a famed example, was given a gene from a bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) that produces proteins that kill the larvae from insects. This is very different than crossing corn and mixing their own genes together to make a resistant subspecies. There was concern that though successful at killing pests at first, the corn will simply act as a pesticide does, and leave only the insects that are resistant alive. A new way of BT corn resistant insects could come about. Not to mention the concern for unintended effects on other species, such as the suspicious death of Monarch Butterflies after BT corn was introduced.
I am personally concerned there has not been enough science (especially from third parties instead of the companies standing to make money) to back up the safety of GM foods. Check out this article on the sterility of hamsters after three generations of eating GM soy.
The first link below I feel is a good unbias outline of the benefits and concerns of GM foods.
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