GMO, or Genetically Modified Organism, indicates a plant, animal or other life form that contains genetic material that has been directly modified by humans.
There is much controversy over GMO, especially in the food chain. While the resulting organisms may have certain benefits to humans, they may also cause certain problems at some time in the future. GMO also has major implications in politics.
The purpose of this article is to provide an overview and links for further reading with the intention of raising your awareness about GMO.
Personally, I am concerned about the possible implications of GMO on people with allergies, or people who may get allergies. You can draw your own conclusions from this article.
The positive side of GMOs (or possibly the positive spin in many cases) is that modified organisms can provide enhanced products and services to humans.
For example, animals and microbes may be designed to produce pharmaceuticals, be more insect or drought resistant, or provide more nutrition to food.
Because they are self-replicating, once the organisms have been “designed and built”, they perpetuate themselves, at least in theory.
Some plants have been designed not to perpetuate themselves, and obvious benefit to the seed producer, but not to the farmer.
One of the biggest downsides to GMOs is uncertainty. There is no way to know how they effect human health in the long term, now they will effect the environment, or how they might mutate into something else.
What if a peanut gene were inserted into a GMO salmon for instance, might that cause an allergic reaction in someone allergic to peanuts? Unlikely, perhaps, but probably impossible to rule out completely.
GMO and Chemicals
The most obvious downside to GMOs is that many of the most popular are chemical-resistant crops, specifically, crops that resist herbicides used to eliminate ‘weeds’ from the fields in which they are grown.
What this means to you is that when you eat GMO corn for example, it is likely to have much higher chemical residues in it (Roundup for example) than ‘natural’ corn.
This is bad news for allergy sufferers and human health in general. It is also bad for the environment since more chemicals can be dumped onto farm fields than ever before.
GMO and Politics
By modifying and them patenting organisms, huge multinationals can gain control over the world food supply in ways that were never before possible. This is of particular concern when it comes to ‘terminator seeds’, seeds that germinate once, and which produce sterile crops (edible seeds, if you dare, but seeds that will not germinate).
Warning: there is much at stake with this issue. Big companies have way of spinning the media and public opinion in all sorts of ways, including the setup of false citizens groups or science groups that appear to be independent, but really have the sole aim of promoting a very one-sided argument.
GMO and Allergies
I do not presently have any information to expand on the subject of GMO and allergies. However I do have concerns about how GMO may effect human health, and possibly trigger allergies.
The increased chemical use on the farm is also of great concern and may be related to allergies and chemical sensitivity.
Your comments on this subject are most welcome.
- Wikipedia on Genetically Modified Organisms
- Do Seed Companies Control GM Crop Research?
- Genetically Modified Crop on the Loose and Evolving in U.S. Midwest