With all of the debates currently raging in contemporary American discourse, the argument about genetically modified organisms, specifically foods, is particularly controversial. Opponents of GMOs have many concerns, ranging from fear that they’re carcinogenic to bad for the environment. Other folks worry that we just don’t know what potential dangers could be lurking in the ears of corn and potatoes and argue that it should be disclosed if food is genetically modified. But when you delve into the data and examine the facts, you’ll find that studies continue to show that GMOs’ risks are minimal, if any at all. So here’s what’s important to know about GMOs.
Is GM Food Safe?
Despite many memes that circulate on social media, ranging from rats with garish tumors to potatoes growing mutant eyes, genetically modified food is safe to eat, according to science. For one, GMOs are among the most studied areas of research in the agricultural and biological sciences, which means there is much data to sift through. Additionally, that data has yet to show that anything about GMOs is risky or dangerous.
People Want Labels
Plenty of folks have called for state and federal governments to label any foods or products that contain GMOs. On the surface, it seems harmless enough. Still, others argue those labels aren’t necessary — mainly since a non-GMO label already exists, allowing consumers to select non-GMO food if that’s their preference. Opponents of the labels claim that if GMOs were dangerous, the FDA wouldn’t label them — they’d yank them off the market. Additionally, those labels may help spread fear and misinformation about GMOs and potentially drive up the price of food, which no one wants.
It Goes Beyond Herbicide-Resistant Crops
When they think of GMOs, herbicide-resistant crops like corn and soy may be the first things that come to mind for many people. But there are a variety of other GMOs. For example, GM papayas are resistant to ring spots, which scientists have credited with saving Hawaii’s papaya industry. There are GM mosquitoes that help combat the transmission of dengue fever, which can be life-threatening. And if you love oranges, you’ll love that orange trees in Florida have been genetically modified and can fight off citrus greening.