The subject of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) raises much debate splitting opinions with opposition as formidable as support. Essentially, a GMO is an organism whose genetic material has undergone alterations through genetic engineering (Zhang et al., 2016). The definition of this modification differs but refers primarily to alteration that does not occur naturally. Genetic engineering enables scientists to move desirable genes from one organism to another. It is even possible to move these genes from plants to animals and vice versa (Zhang et al., 2016). The truth is, selective breeding has been happening for a long time, albeit not at the genetic level; farmers have artificially inseminated their cows with sperms from supposedly more muscular bulls.
Even though some risks accompany GMOs, such as the possibility of transferring undesirable traits, the benefits far outweigh any potential risks. Some benefits of GMOs include tastier and more nutritious foods, drought-resistant crops, reduced use of pesticides, increased food supply, and faster growth of animals (Zhang et al., 2016). It would qualify as folly to discard this outstanding technology with such immense benefits on a planet engulfed by food scarcity and an ever-rising population.
GMOs have become controversial since their supposed benefits to the consumer and society, in general, are also accompanied by potential risks. For a technology that is not particularly new, one would expect that trust would have increased by now, but that is not the case. Whether that is due to advocacy groups such as Greenpeace is beside the point as people are more aware in this information age and can conduct their research about substances they ingest.
‘Golden Rice’ was supposed to be a godsend to the populations it was designed for, solving their Vitamin A deficiency problem. Still, activists continue to protest, as in the case of the research field destroyed in the Philippines (Zhang et al., 2016). The truth is, that GMOs come with associated risks such as allergenicity, toxicity, and genetic hazard (Zhang et al., 2016). An example of a documented food hazard from GMOs is the ‘Starlink’ corn modified with genetic code from Bacillus thuringinesis but causes strong allergenicity. If these products come with so many specific risks, it is logical for consumers to be cautious about them.
Zhang, C., Wohlhueter, R., & Zhang, H. (2016). Genetically modified foods: A critical review of their promise and problems. Food Science and Human Wellness, 5(3), 116–123. Web.