After watching the film, “ Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives” directed by Jeffrey M. Smith, I was genuinely shocked by the information that was presented. I’ve learned about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before but never really dove into the extent of its effects. Genetically modified organisms or crops are living things that have been genetically altered through the use of GM techniques. They are used in crops to either kill pesticides or enhance nutrient composition. Despite the surface benefits, GMOs harm humans.
As someone with multiple allergies including eczema, asthma, and seasonal allergies, it was surprising to learn that 25- 30 years ago almost no one had these allergies. The allergies I mentioned have been proven to be a result of ingesting genetically modified foods. When genetically modified organisms are created in labs, scientists incubate different genes into other organisms and create gene sequences that do not exist anywhere in nature. The gene sequences created lead to attacks and inflammatory reactions when ingested by humans. Since GMOs aren’t in their active form, our digestive system puts in extra work to break them down, which can lead to increased intestinal permeability. Also with the increase of GMOs came the increase in illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
What is also interesting and quite scary to know is that long after we stop eating genetically modified foods, the modified proteins within us may continue to produce. The most shocking discovery was that “trusted” government organizations like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have lied to consumers for years about the safety of GMOs. In the past, they’ve failed to inform consumers that GMOs can lead to allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. It’s not that the higher ups in these organizations weren’t aware of these problems. They chose to ignore it even though FDA scientists advocated to them the need for long term studies on GMOs.
Companies like Monsanto purposefully ignore FDA regulations and put false labeling on their products so consumers believe that GMOs won’t harm them. According to a 2013 article titled Genetically Modified Crops and Food Security by Matin Qaim and Shahzad Kouser, GMOs “contribute to food production increases and higher food availability” (Qaim & Kouser, 2013). Higher food availability is great, but not if it means those foods aren’t nutritionally beneficial and accessible to all. While the production of GMOs like Bt cotton among small farm households in India “may influence farmers’ income and thus their economic access to food” (Qaim & Kouser, 2013), for regular consumers, this may not be the case. GMOs are promoted as a cure all to food insecurity, but false “organic” labels, decreased nutritional value, and lack of policy to ensure the needs of regular consumers and small farm households make it impossible to be an actual solution.
For those in low-income neighborhoods and food desserts, their main food options are either processed or empty-calorie foods. With about 75% of processed foods containing GMOs, the people consuming these foods are not only failing to get their proper nutritional intake but are also introducing their bodies to harmful pesticides and toxins. Low-income, limited access to healthier foods,and misleading labels on food products contribute to this phenomenon.
Organizations like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have been out in place since 1914 to protect consumers by stopping unfair practices in the marketplace and promote competition by ensuring that our markets are open and free (ftc.gov). Companies including Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats, Gerber’s Good Start Gentle Formula, Tropicana Healthy Heart Orange Juice, and Kentucky Fried Chicken have all been challenged by the FTC for making misleading claims about their food products. (fooddive.com). As of July, 2016, more concrete measures have been taken to ensure consumers aren’t tricked into buying products they believe are organic. The USDA announced that Congress passed The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law, “to establish this national mandatory standard for disclosing foods that are or may be bioengineered” (ams.usda.gov).
Petpedia.co cites that “ Roughly 75% of processed foods contain GMOs”. (petpedia.co)
“As of 2020, GMO labeling is obligatory for all produce containing more than 5% of bioengineered material” (petpedia.co).
“More than 95% of animals used for meat and dairy in the United States eat GMO crops.” (fda.gov)
Genetically modified organisms or crops are living things that have been genetically altered through the use of GM techniques.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have lied to consumers for years in the past about the safety of GMOs.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) protects consumers by stopping unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices in the marketplace and promotes competition to benefit consumers with low prices and quality goods. (ftc.gov).
GMOs may help the economy and increase crop yields but they don’t provide a safe and effective solution for food insecurity.
It’s important to actively read labels on your food products before purchasing them to ensure that you aren’t being misled about its nutritional value.