“GMOs need to at least be labelled!” my mother said to me at the dinner table the other day after previously talking about my first ballot I will ever be filling out, having just turned 18. I just replied, “sure”, since I actually had no idea what GMOs were at the time. Later that night I decided it would be beneficial to do some research. There was obviously some law being voted for on the ballot against them; my family wouldn’t have made it a dinner conversation if it hadn’t been. I was set on filling out a perfect first ballot filled with all of my beliefs and political stances, so I had to do the research.
“Genetically Modified Organisms” are actually found in approximately 80% of packaged food in our United States according to “Nature’s Path Organic Foods”. They’re exactly what the expanded acronym suggests; they are animals or plants engineered genetically using “bacteria, viruses, and other plants and animals” (nongmoproject.org). The reason farmers do this is so that they can grow larger crops or animals, produce more product, and make more money off of the extra food sold. Countries such as Japan, Australia and lots in Europe have already enforced strict bans or restrictions on GMOs, adding to some people’s stress who are fighting harshly for restrictions in our Country.
On the surface, this could sound like not a horrible idea. We are making more food, so now more people can have food, right? Well the controversy comes in when you look at the health effects on people eating GMOs. Lot’s of people think it’s effective in causing cancer in people; experiments have been done on animals, and the animals have died. If you search “GMO study” on google images, a plethora of pictures showing this lumpy, mutated rat that has gone through a GMO test. After seeing that I was ready to vote for anything that was against GMOs. I reluctantly kept researching, with the thought in my mind that I can’t let one website’s potential bias sway me so easily. I stumbled across an article written by Dr. Stevan Novella (in works cited), that had the opposite bias. He states that “genetically modified feed is safe and nutritionally equivalent to non-GMO feed. There does not appear to be any health risk to the animals, and it is even less likely that there could be any health effect on humans who eat those animals”. He goes on to talk about how studies have proven the fact. Things just got more confusing. Who do we trust?
Remember that one night when I first heard the acronym “GMO” with my parents. My mother stated that it’s important that they are “labelled”. That’s exactly what my home state of Oregon is trying to pass right now. Measure 92 on the ballot, “right to know”, if passed, would require all food at the grocery store to be labelled GMO free or not on the packaging.
The cheesy “this is what food looks like when Genetically Engineered in comparison” method of rhetoric Dr. Ray Seidler uses was effective for me. I don’t want to eat green and purple corn, but I have a bit of a bias since I am a rather picky eater and I don’t eat what doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing.
As for the politics, the people for and against labeling of GMOs is surprisingly split pretty evenly down the middle between conservatives and liberals. Actually, there is a bit of a sway towards the amount of conservative votes against GMOs in a poll on Discover Magazine. In my mind, I don’t think it matters, whether you’re liberal or conservative, or whether you’re for or against GMOs. Everything should be labeled; we should be given the opportunity to know what we are buying when we buy it. Who knows if GMOs create health issues that don’t show up for a long time? Maybe there’s something we just don’t know. All I know is that I believe we should have the right to choose whether or not we buy and consume Genetically Modified Organisms.
“What Are GMOs & How Many US Foods Contain Them? (Infographic).”TreeHugger. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014. <http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/what-are-gmos-how-many-us-foods-contain-them-infographic.html>.
“NeuroLogica Blog » 19 Years of Feeding Animals GMO Shows No Harm.”NeuroLogica Blog » 19 Years of Feeding Animals GMO Shows No Harm. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014. <http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/19-years-of-feeding-animals-gmo-shows-no-harm/>.
“Do liberals oppose genetically modified organisms more than conservatives? – Gene Expression | DiscoverMagazine.com.” Gene Expression. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014. <http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2013/06/do-liberals-oppose-genetically-modified-organisms-more-than-conservatives/#.VEcY04vF9K4>.