Dear Future President,
What are we eating? What is on the shelves of grocery stores that Americans are buying everyday? Most people are clueless as to what they are truly putting into their bodies. The problem is GMOs. Consumers don’t even know they’re there. GMOs are organisms whose DNA and genetic makeup are changed to make growing crops easier for the farmer, among other reasons. They make up “sixty to seventy percent of the products on supermarket shelves” yet they remain unlabeled and unknowingly eaten by Americans each day. If scientists are going to change the makeup of something that civilians are going to be ingesting daily, the least they can do is label the foods so that people know what they are buying. Unfortunately, large corporations such as Monsanto, lead producer of GM seeds and an herbicide called Roundup, do not care about the harm that these GMOs are doing, they are simply motivated by profit. According to the Genetic Literacy Project, 38 nations have banned the cultivation of GMOs. A country does not ban something for no reason. GMOs are dangerous and pose hazards to the environment, humans, and more. If these organisms have been banned in many places, then why is the U.S. not even labeling them? What are we waiting for?
The use of GMOs endanger everyone. Take allergens for example. Many people suffer from allergies their entire lives and have to be extremely careful about everything they eat. “If the novel protein in a GM food comes from a source that is known to cause allergies in humans or a source that has never been consumed as human food, the concern that the protein could elicit an immune response in humans increases.” If the scientists take a gene from a known allergen (a nut for example) and add it to another plant that naturally contains no allergens, then the risk for an allergic reaction greatly increases if the GMO is not labeled and the person with the allergy cannot be certain if the food is safe for them. Continually, if a gene is taken from an organism that is not part of the human diet, then there is no certainty that the food is safe to consume. Without accurate labeling and education, GMOs pose possible hazards for anyone, allergy or not. Having an allergy just increases that risk.
Furthermore, antibiotic resistance is increased through the use of GMOs. “Biotechnologists use antibiotic resistance genes as selectable markers when inserting new genes into plants.” They do this because it is easier to test if the other new gene survived within the plant. However, in doing so, they decrease the effectiveness of medicine in humans. Similarly to in factory farming, where they give antibiotics to the cattle so they don’t get bacterial infections, Americans are ingesting the food with these drugs which, in turn, desensitizes the human body. The result will be that people will need stronger and stronger antibiotics to fight bacterial infections and eventually it just won’t be enough and the human body will not be able to make use of the remedies.
Continually, despite the ease of growing, these organisms are ruinous to the environment along with human health. “The main use of GM technology so far has been to engineer herbicide-resistant corn and soybeans, which enable farmers to simplify their weed management by spraying broad-spectrum weed killers throughout the growing season.” Not only are scientists changing the genetic makeup of these organisms , which could have many unknown effects on the public, but they are simply making it easier for farmers to spray toxic chemicals all over their plants without it killing the crops. In the book silent spring, Carson writes, “they have been found in fish in remote mountain lakes, in earthworms burrowing in soil, in the eggs of birds -- and in man himself” (Carson 16). Even though Carson is describing the use of pesticides, the use of herbicides has nearly the same effect on the environment around it. When spraying these chemicals on crops, there are many unintended consequences on the environment and on human health. One can never add toxins to the environment and think that it will only affect one thing. That is never the case. It always comes full circle and destroys so much more. The toxins get into the fish, the birds, the water, the human body and wreak havoc.
So, future president, a change needs to be made. The harmful effects of GMOs are going unnoticed by Americans who are ingesting them daily. The best way to make a change is to ban these organisms altogether and join the 38 other nations who have done so already. However, with corrupt, profit-driven corporations in charge of the seeds, that will be much more difficult to accomplish than it should be. A more reasonable solution to the problem would be to educate the public about the effects of GMOs and require the labeling of these products. Even if the evil corporations still rule the genetically modified world, the public, given all the information there is, can rightfully decide for themselves what they want to do and what they want to put into their bodies. The individual person has the right to know and the right to choose.