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Saturday, June 22
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

The real GMOs

The experimental cultivation of genetically modified foods for commercialization is a hot topic boiling within a thick soup of social and political controversies.

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are often trumpeted as the best solution to world hunger with an ever more populated Earth and strained economy.

However, the overwhelming agricultural applications of genetic engineering coupled with the shortcomings of its current techniques raise legitimate safety concerns and consequent proposals for mandatory GMO labeling in the U.S.

The favorable modification of organisms’ genomes has been conducted solely through traditional selective breeding practices for most of human history.

However, with the merging of modern science and farming in recent decades, the development of beneficial traits in a crop is no longer limited to the natural genetic variations within that particular species.

In other words, modern genetic engineering theory holds that splicing a gene of interest from one genome and recombining it with another will result in a transgenic organism additionally exhibiting only the desirable trait of that foreign gene.

However, this isn’t always the case.

Due to our inability to accurately govern where foreign genes are inserted into the host plant’s DNA can disrupt the function of other genes nearby and produce unpredictable downstream epigenetic effects.

A study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has shown that genetically modified peas can generate abnormally structured proteins with toxic properties that stimulate allergic responses in mice.

An article named GMOs Explained by Rich Wallace informs that nearly 75 percent of cotton and corn and 90 percent of soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified to resist the herbicide “round-up”. http://www.nongmoproject.org/

Enhanced herbicide resistance further encourages spraying since the crops are at less of a risk from it.

Such chemicals have been cited as key causes of certain cancers, celiac disease, Alzheimer’s and other severe illnesses in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Toxicology.

It has also been linked to the decline of bee populations and other pollinators.

Interestingly enough, the giant GMO proponents and opponents of mandatory labeling refuse to consume their own products.

The Monsanto corporation has prevented genetically modified foods and ingredients from being served to its employees in its own cafeterias.

A 2013 New York Times poll revealed that 93 percent of Americans support mandated GMO product labeling.

The right to know more about what we’re ingesting is an undeniable demand. People need to be alerted if their food is genetically tampered so they can readily protest with their dollars and opt out of this ongoing industrial-agricultural experiment if they wish to do so.

If citizens in more than 60 other countries can easily exempt themselves from guinea pig status then so should Americans.

edharo@indiana.edu

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