The Impact of GMO What people see in the Genetic Modification industry

GMO products are very widely used nowadays to improve either the quality or the quantity of food yield from farmers. But, there is evidence that shows that improved practice is the reason for improvement. According to a study done by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit science group, it is more the traditional methods of breeding and improved practices that lead to the improved yields of crops (Stanton). This would suggest that the use of GMOs has a much lower benefit than advertised. Despite the truth this may hold, there are other benefits to GMOs that are very clear. For example, according to Joseph Perrone, the author of “Post-Truth Science” on National Review, “Glyphosate, the world’s most heavily used herbicide, has hampered excess weed growth for nearly half a century — and not only in GM fields. By allowing farmers to use less water and requiring minimal tilling, the weed killer (better known as Roundup) minimizes erosion and agricultural runoff into the water supply.” This shows that, while crop yield is mainly improved by the methods of farming, there are still undeniable benefits to GMOs. Though, the debate of GMOs go beyond if they are useful or not; much of the debate revolves around the safety and morality of the issue.

There are many concerns revolving around the potential of negative health impacts that GMOs may have. Despite this bad reputation, GMOs are widely believed by scientists to be a safe option. According to Brian Macleod, the author of “The debate over GM foods” for The Western Producer, “Even though 88 percent of scientists believe GM food is safe, many people don’t trust scientists.” The question still remains, though, as to why people have problems with trusting the GMOs in food. The answer to that, lies not in scientific fact, but in the emotional manipulation that can occur. As stated by Joseph Perrone, the author for “Post-Truth Science” on National Review, “Popular publications and blogs appear unfazed by professional science’s unanimous support for the safety of GM foods and their accompanying technologies… the halls of Congress and the Oval Office less swayed by unbiased science than by the emotional appeals.” So it would seem that it isn’t the real danger posed by GMOs that people are afraid of, but the created fears by emotion playing journalists. While many people are afraid of GMOs, that does not change the fact that they do help with growing crops.

The truth to GMOs is that they do provide many benefits to how food is produced. For example, the use of GMOs can help a crop yield to survive and excel in tough growing seasons. In reference to a farmer named Brent Jacobson, Sue Staton, the author of “U.S. Catholic”, states, “Despite the drought that hit many parts of central Iowa, his 200-acre corn crop flourished, giving up the largest yield he has had over his 16-year career… progress that has come with the major changes seen in the farming industry in recent decades” (18). Usually, a drought would cause the yield to decrease; However, GMOs allowed the droughted field to give a prosperous amount of crops. The growing of crops is not the only benefit that GMOs provide to our food supply. For example, the Arctic Apple is modified to not turn brown when the skin is removed. And, as explained by Grant Gerlock, the author of the article “The ‘Arctic Apple’ is a Sign of Changes in the Biotech Industry” on Nebraska’s PBS, “The Arctic Apple is one of the first foods often termed a “genetically modified organism” (GMO) to be marketed at consumers, not at farmers.” With this progression in the industry, people want to know when GMOs are being used, leading to a conflict between the GMO opposers and food companies.

A large part of the problem people have with the GMO market is the lack of labeling on GMO products. As a result of the pushing for labels, there have been laws implemented to regulate this, such as “In late July, President Obama signed the nation’s first mandatory GM-labeling legislation into law” (Perrone). Given that, according to a survey done by Health Canada, “Almost 80 percent of respondents want GM foods labelled” (Macleod). Now, the question still remains as to why this is such a big point of controversy. Well, the fears that people have about GMOs in food would actually reflect in the market sales. According to the article "Organic Vs. Non-GMO Labels. Who's Winning? Organic and Non-GMO Companies Push for Prominence--and Meaning for their Labels" by Jacob Bunge and Annie Gasparro, “Surging sales of foods marketed as made without genetically modified crops are outpacing sales of food labeled organic in U.S. grocery stores.” Given there is no danger seen in GMOs by scientists, the fact that the label of “non GMO” is seen as more important than “organic” even though organic is inherently GMO free, imagine the devastation the labels bring to the GMO foods. And this fear is limiting the advancement and usability of GMOs.

It should come as no surprise that the fear people have over GMOs have had a notable impact on the development of these technologies. In the video “On China: Tackling China's GMO fears - CNN Video” published on CNN, there is talk of a girl who has made a development in the GMO field, “But she hasn’t been given field permits for testing these plants outside of a greenhouse setting.” This is problematic for the industry, making it harder to develop GMOs because of these opinions and fears. This means that people need to be shown that GMOs are safe so they will accept them. In the same video, they say the Chinese government is , “Trying to figure out how to manage the popular anxieties.” This is a step towards making these GMOs more accepted, and trying to make them not as feared as they are today.

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