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Say "No" to Genetically Modified Foods

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Introduction

Say "No" to Genetically Modified Foods Do we know what we are really eating nowadays? How many people stop to read a label on the food that they buy? These labels provide a lot of information, such as the content of the item with regard to: calorie, fat, vitamins, and minerals. What these labels lack is information about whether your food is natural or whether it originated form a genetically modified source. Because there are no requirements in the United States to label genetically modified foods as such, there is no way you can tell by just looking. Genetically modified foods are those which had their genetic blueprints modified in some way to produce a result that the modifier hope will be attractive to the consumer. Genetic engineers locate a specific gene on one plant, for example, and then transplant this into the gene of another. They do this because they are hopping to transplant a desirable characteristic from one plant to another. For example, scientists insert genes that produce a natural insecticide into corn to prevent corn borers. The idea behind these transplants is to produce some kind of beneficial effect for mankind. While it may seem that changing the genetic make-up of a plant, like the corn, is a good idea, genetically modifying the food we eat has raised a firestorm of controversy. ...read more.

Middle

In 1999, Nature published a letter from Cornell University scientists in its May 20 issue claiming that pollen from genetically modified Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn crops was poisonous to Monarch butterflies. The Scientists found that 44 percent of Monarch caterpillars that ate milkweed leaves dusted with the pollen of Bt corn died. Those that survived suffered a sixty percent weight loss. Many farms rely on beneficial insects, birds, and bees to ward off pests and keep their crops healthy. These studies should send a warning flag that genetic modification of foods can potentially have a large ecological impact. There is also a moral concern regarding GMO foods. As modern technology began to be developed, farming began to change. Over the past century, agriculture has become more industrialized, and has a tremendous decrease in the variety of crops being grown. As Michael Fox stated in his book Eating with Conscience: The Bioethics of Good, "[it is] estimated that we have lost more than half the varieties of the world's twenty most important food crops that existed at the beginning of the century, which includes corn, rice, wheat, potatoes, and bananas." Mankind has shown a traditional arrogance towards the natural environment, and it is frightening to see this played out. ...read more.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, GMO foods are not completely resistant to disease and therefore, pesticides may still have to be employed. Although it might be hoped that GMO foods would reduce the amount of pesticides used, research has revealed quite the opposite. According to USDA government statistics, farmers using genetically modified seeds on millions of acres of crop land in the United States in 1997-1998 used on the average just as many pesticides and herbicides as the farmers who planted non-genetically engineered crops. As Dr. Charles Benbrook, Dr. Michael Hansen and others point out in the book Pest Management at the Crossroads, "the only real way to reduce pesticide use is through organic or sustainable agricultural practices-practices that include integrated pest management, crop rotation, beneficial insects, planting a variety of crops, manual or mechanical weeding and natural bio-pesticides." Genetically modified food should be banned in the United States because they can be dangerous to the health of humans, harmful to the environment, and there are overwhelming moral issues to be solved. Despite these risks, companies continue to produce and research GMO foods because there is an obscene amount of money to be made on them. Our only defense as consumers is to be watchful and informed to pressure government bodies for adequate controls. 1 According to Miguel Altieri, there are between 20 and 30 million malnourished people in the United States. "Biotech Will Not Feed the World," San Francisco Chronicle, 30 March 2000. 1 LAI ...read more.

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