Monday, December 12, 2016

GMOs Are Safe

This post was inspired by the November 2016 issue of Scientific American and a continuation of the series I'm writing on things we know to be true.  This post's topic was not one of the main articles written on things we know but a side statement.  It's one in which I've changed my mind on after reading up on the science.

The topic is GMOs (genetically modified organisms).  From wikipedia, the definition of a GMO is:

"genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (i.e., a genetically engineered organism)."

 Much of the food we eat today is a GMO.  Because of this, there are many movements to ban GMOs, label GMOs, and reduce the number of GMOs in production today with the push that GMOs are harmful to human health.  Unfortunately there are no scientific studies suggesting GMOs are harmful to humans.  Over 2000 studies have been completed and all show there are no harmful effects from consuming GMO products.  There was a study in which rats were fed GMO corn for a period of time.  These rats had a greater rate of tumor growth, but it was later determined the rats used in the study were already pre-disposed to developing tumors at a greater rate than other rats.  The study itself was retracted.

In my life, I used to be against GMOs.  I signed petitions, I was excited to purchase and eat non-GMO food products, and I shared anti-GMO propaganda on social media.  Then I started looking into the science of GMOs and quickly realized I was wrong.  GMOs are not harmful.  They do not increase tumor rates.  They do not reduce life spans.  They are perfectly safe.  In fact, now I get annoyed when I see food packaging stating the product is non-GMO.  I'm LESS inclined to buy a food product with a package stating it is non-GMO.  The company has the right to produce this packaging, but it is an anti-science statement used to promote greater sales to those who think GMOs are bad for you.

If the science is clear, why do so many people think GMOs are bad?  A lot of it has to do with big corporations versus small, family farming.  I understand that, but the two are very different issues.  We can have a discussion about the business practices of Monsanto or Dow and yet still recognize that GMOs are safe.  If we are serious about solving world hunger problems, GMOs MUST be part of the solution.  To demonize them to push an anti-science belief is literally killing people who don't have enough food and die of malnutrition.

I admit it.  I was wrong on GMOs for several years.  Then I started reading up on them and I realized I was wrong.  I could have dug my feet in and stuck with my anti-science belief, but I was mentally strong enough to recognize I made a mistake.  I hope you will do the same if you are reading this and hold an anti-GMO viewpoint.

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