The Future of GM Food and You

It’s no surprise that busy students don’t always eat well, as their diets often subsist on burgers and tacos. But what students don’t know is when they do sit down at home for what they believe is a wholesome meal, it may not be what it seems, nutritionally.(Okay, not to knock Mom’s cooking, but who knows what’s really in that casserole?)Genetic modification allows genes to be altered to produce desired traits; hormones can also be injected into animals to increase production of milk or muscle mass. According to a recent ABC News report, most people in the United States don’t even realize they’re eating genetically modified (GM) food because it’s so common on grocery store shelves. That means the next time you buy meat or fish, or many fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, it could be altered, and you’d have no idea. The FDA doesn’t require labels for GM food.So, you might ask, what’s the big deal? Food’s food, right?Well, here’s why.First of all, the long-term effects of consuming GM food have yet to be discovered. Joseph Mendelson of the Center for Food Safety told an ABC reporter, “We think there are consequent effects the FDA has not yet looked at that could impact human health.”For example, to increase milk production, recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) injections are administered to dairy cows. “The controversial hormone has been banned in Europe, Canada and Japan, due to its links to increased risks for breast and colon cancer and antibiotic resistance,” according to the Organic Consumers Association. But the FDA still approves the use of rBGH in U.S. dairy cows.There are other reasons why people question GM foods too.Kathiann Kowalski discusses the damage genetic modification can cause to the environment in her book, ‘The Debate Over Genetically Modified Food.’ When the wind carries their seeds, genes from GM plants can spread to non-GM plants, causing cross-fertilization, she argues. This could be a problem if a gene for herbicide resistance were to spread from a plant like corn, to weeds. “The result would be ‘Superweeds’ or weeds that are herbicide resistant,” Kowalski says.So, if genetic modification can cause such severe problems, are we really to trust it for ourselves and others?”It is really a huge, uncontrolled experiment on the American people,” another representative of the Center for Food Safety told ABC News.The only way to avoid purchasing GM food is to shop for organic foods. The USDA organic label means the food wasn’t made by genetic engineering. These products may cost a little more than the average, but the seal guarantees the product is free of all pesticides and hormones. The organic label allows consumers to properly distinguish the difference between organic and GM food. After all, people want to know what they’re putting into their bodies.The future of GM food may be promising, but more research needs to be conducted to ensure its safety. So the next time you sit down for a salad and grilled salmon meal your mother cooked, remember this: it may be no healthier than the combo meal at the burger joint. At least, that’s what some suggest in the ongoing debate about GM foods.

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