In Defense of Unlabeled GMOs
Humans have been genetically modifying organisms for thousands of years. Through selective breeding, the genetic makeup of crops has been altered to provide more desirable traits. As our understanding of genes progressed, so did our capability to alter plant genomes. Biologists created disease resistant and higher-yield crops genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in an attempt to develop a greater, more economically friendly food supply (Forbes). The most popularly known example of this success is the Vitamin-A enriched golden rice, which many believed would be the solution to global malnutrition issues at the start of the 21st century.
However, these alterations caused a great deal of controversy as their complexity increased. Many feared the newly labeled “frankenfoods,” and demanded investigations into their effects on environmental and personal health. As public fear held strong, multiple government institutions, including the FDA and National Academy of Science, launched extensive studies. After collecting data across multiple years, it was unanimously concluded that GMOs are completely safe for consumption (New York Times).
Even after the publication of many studies backing these conclusions, some Americans believe in further control of GMOs. Recently, many anti-GMO groups including “Right to Know” are demanding special labels on genetically modified foods. The group’s name truly states their demands. They believe that Americans have the right to know if their food has been genetically modified in any way, as they still believe GMOs can be harmful to personal health (GMO Awareness Site).
There is a plethora of reasons why this movement has no place in American politics. To begin, essentially all food has been genetically modified at some point in time. Even legally labeled “organic” foods have undergone some form of artificial selection to produce a greater crop yield or other desirable phenotypic traits. This alteration is genetic modification in and of itself. By labeling all genetically modified foods as such, essentially every fruit and vegetable, “organic” or not, is a GMO.
Additionally, forcing food companies to change labels is nonsensical in both economic and simple logical terms. The passage of such legislature is a senseless economic burden for both companies and the government. By using disease resistant and high-yield crops, companies are undoubtedly going to achieve greater economic success than those who use unmodified crops. Food distributors would need to redesign and print new labels, which is an unfair punishment for using inherently better business practices. Furthermore, whatever government body in charge of enforcing these new laws would need to expand, costing taxpayers more money or shifting funds from one agency to the aforementioned. Both of these resulting changes are completely unnecessary, as they would be performed all to enforce a law that serves no genuine purpose.
In conclusion, GMOs represent the future of food production. They pose no threat to personal health and only provide the global population with the potential for better diet and reduced hunger. Labeling genetically modified foods is completely nonsensical and provides no benefit to the American consumer.
The New York Times. Genetically Engineered Crops Are Safe, Analysis Fins. May 17 2016.
GMO Awareness. Anti-GMO Groups in The United States. Web
FDA. Food from Genetically Engineered Plants. Web
Alison Van Eenennaam. The Journal of Animal Science. (Article unavailable online until October 1st, 2016)
Forbes. The Debate About GMO Safety is Over, Thanks to a New Trillion-Meal Study. Web
For a comprehensive list of many GMO related studies, please visit the following website: http://www.fass.org/page.asp?pageID=52&autotry=true&ULnotkn=true