Editor’s Note: The following letters about GMOs, genetically modified organisms, were submitted by students at Homer High School.
The shelves in our grocery stores are filled with several different types of food products that are sold to consumers on a daily basis. Some of these foods are grown totally organic whereas others are grown with GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. These foods made with GMOs are manmade and not entirely safe for the consumers, yet these foods are not required to be labeled, so the people do not know what they’re purchasing.
GMOs are grown using a chemical process that changes, or “modifies” the DNA of the specific organism being treated with these chemicals. This changed DNA is then put into the foods that are sold in our local markets and consumed by the people of our community.
These foods that line our shelves are found as a foreign invader in our bodies and can cause several health risks. When we consume these GMOs, our body sees this unfamiliar DNA and considers it a threat, and attempts to fight it off. Because of this more health risks are present in today’s social environment, as well as food-borne allergies. Scientific studies have shown that they are harmful when tested on small animals, so I can only imagine what they do to our bodies. They have already been directly related to the increased rate of food allergies along with the increased rate of birth defects, such as autism.
GMOs have been considered dangerous and have been banned in several countries, such as Switzerland, India, New Zealand, Bulgaria, and so many more. Yet in the USA, only one state has managed to ban GMOs, and is only in three counties, Trinity, Marin and Mendocino, in California. If other countries see GMOs as a harmful substance, and won’t feed them to their consumers, why do we subject ourselves to this potentially dangerous fate?
One of the biggest issues is the fact that children today are exposed the most to these GMOs. Since GMOs were introduced in the 1990s, our generation’s children were born and raised with this unhealthy consumption. These GMOs are given to children from the beginning and if they’re so harmful to small animals, how do they affect small and young children, especially if they are exposed to it at extremely young ages, through soy-based baby formulas? We’re basically sustaining ourselves on false, man-made nutrients.
On top of the fact that it leads to more food allergies, in scientific studies, after three generations of mice exposed to soy and GMO-based products, their ability to procreate slowly diminished. If GMOs can destroy the reproductive ability in mice overtime, then we might be setting ourselves up for the same tragedy. What good are GMOs if we can no longer create people to consume them in the long run?
By labeling GMOs, we give consumers of our community a choice to decide what to buy. It allows the shoppers to distinguish between what is unhealthy and unnatural. Labeling GMOs is beneficial to our health and should be considered by the supermarkets in our town along with the rest of the country. By making small steps like this we can better the health of ourselves and our loved ones.
Chelsey Rakesh Marsh, Anchor Point
Genetic engineering is the manipulation of an organism’s DNA. Since the invention it has been used for many applications; such as curing genetic maladies and growing insulin in bacteria for diabetes patient. However, genetic engineering is also used to make modifications in plants for human consumption. They are made purely for commercial reasons, and they give the name GMO (genetically modified organism) a bad meaning. GMOs are typically given genes to promote growth or to make insecticides. When ingested, they may cause sickness. These are placed in regular packages and sold, unmarked, to unsuspecting customers. In order to preserve our health, GMO products should be labeled in stores.
The pesticides most commonly engineered into plants causes the intestines of insects to split open. It was seen as a life-saving idea initially. Farmers no longer had to buy both pesticides and seeds; now they came in the same package. Through this excitement, very few people considered that people would eat the pesticide too. In the human body the chemicals are not as effective, instead of completely splitting open the victim’s intestines it opens micro-gaps. Food leaks into the blood stream, and the immune system responds by sending antigens. It causes the immune system to fight the food, which may lead to allergies.
GMOs are mostly not safe for people to eat, and can be harmful to the people eating them. In order to preserve our health, GMO products should be labeled in stores.
Robert Martin, Homer High School