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Genetically Modified Food - Benefit or Risk?

Genetic modification can be a great thing – proof of societal progress, testament to efficiency and a way to end the pesky problems of life in an uncontrolled world. OR it can mean the end to life as we know it, the introduction of species not created by necessity, evolution and natural selection and a dangerous human capacity to play God. Of course, this is all according to who you talk to. In terms of genetically modified food, most people are satisfied simply with their right to know. Clear labeling allows consumers to make informed choices and to take a stand one way or the other on the use of GMOs in our food.

However, the road to enlightenment is fast becoming shrouded in mystery, lies and deceit. Some countries, like New Zealand, Zambia and Austria, have banned the use of GMOs completely. However, this doesn’t mean that consumers are 100% safe from genetically altered food. In Hungary, hundreds of acres of corn were found to contain GMOs, resulting in the plowing under of multiple fields of corn and the end to many farmer's season. According to an investigation from the Ministry of Rural Development, seeds thought to be organic were sold to the farmers without their genetically modified label. The farmers paid dearly for someone else’s oversight, mistake or trickery.

 

In the United States, Monsanto, one of the world’s largest producers of genetically modified seeds, is being allowed to sell produce directly to consumers. Since Monsanto already controls 60% of the corn market and about 86% of the corn on shelves today is genetically modified, it can only mean less shelf space for organic products. There is a fear that organic products will become harder to find and without proper labeling, impossible to differentiate. Additionally, consuming raw GM corn may actually be more dangerous than eating processed corn product making processed food better for you than the real thing in terms of amount of exposure to insecticidal chemicals.

So as we learn more and more about the potential risks and perceived benefits from genetically altered produce, we have to wonder if they are actually worth it. Sure, GM produce is immune to many destructive natural factors and can be grown in larger amounts than organic produce, but is it worth exposing ourselves to harsh chemicals and unnatural plant subspecies? With proper labeling and dedicated activism, the choice can be yours. However, the way things are right now, you may not actually be getting what you pay for.

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