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Genetically Modified Organisms in America

Food is a very important resource to people, as it sustains them, and allows them to
perform the tasks that they need to complete. Unfortunately, there never seems to be enough
food for everyone to be able to eat well, and food shortages are becoming far more common in
many parts of the world. Through much effort and experimentation, scientists have discovered
many new ways to make hardier, more plentiful crops: Genetically modified organisms, or
GMOs. GMOs are organisms, which are most likely to be plants, which have had genes from
other organisms implanted in them with advanced biotechnical techniques. Of course, people
have been modifying crops and livestock for quite some time, as selective breeding is
technically a form of genetic modification, but the advent of genetically modified organisms was
the first time that people had actually changed organisms at a genetic level without thousands of
years of selective breeding. Using genetic recombination, the traits of an organism can be
changed instantaneously. While the idea of being able to produce more food in less time seems
very desirable, there are a number of concerns surrounding the general practice of genetic
modification of plants and animals, as well as about whether these modifications are safe or not.
Nonetheless, these potential risks do not outbalance the benefits and help that genetically
modified foods provide.
For thousands of years, people have been using a technique called artificial selection to
modify organisms by causing certain traits to be passed on. Evidence of this can be seen
throughout the animal and plant kingdoms. For example, by breeding only cows that produce

more milk than usual, the trait will become more common. Over multiple generations, the milkproducing trait will become more common, and it will eventually become the most common
normal trait. By repeating this basic process over and over again, people have been modifying
organisms to better aid humanity since ancient times. Regrettably, this process is limited in that
it can only be applied to natural variations and genes, so introducing new genes is not something
that is possible when artificial selection is performed (Alford). As it inserts genes from other
organisms, genetic modifications are now being used to help modify these species far more than
could be done naturally.
In other words, genetic modifications, which are normally performed on bacteria, crops,
and livestock, allow scientists to add beneficial traits from one species to members of another
species. This opens the door to all sorts of exciting and innovative new possibilities, and thus,
these modified organisms are desirable for many reasons. Some of these organisms may be more
resistant to pesticides or frost; crops could have a higher yield, or they could have higher
nutritional value because they produce more vitamins than usual. By inserting these new genes,
the organisms can be used far more or more effectively, which could benefit people significantly
(Field Research). These benefits go beyond agriculture, as well. Modified bacteria can grow
human insulin, for example, or could produce valuable drugs for less money. These benefits,
plus many more that have yet to be fully researched are a great boon to mankind
Despite the staggering number of benefits that GMOs provide, many people still wonder
if they are necessary or not. After all, one of the reasons that people around the world today

dont have enough food is because of the distribution of food production. A major issue,
however, is that the human population is growing at an alarming rate, and quite a bit more food
will have to be grown in order to keep up with the demand that is coming with that increase. In
fact, if the rate of population growth continues at the current rate, the UN has estimated that we
will need to grow 70% more food by 2050 (Alford). A fairly simple way for that increased
demand to be reached would be to simply grow more GMOs. As these organisms are heartier
and have a higher yield than unmodified crops, they are a logical solution for the impending food
shortage.
While this is all well and good, there are many people that are concerned about the idea
of humans consuming these organisms. A large number of those against GMOs believe that all
GMOs should be labeled so that those who dont want to ingest them can avoid them.
Unfortunately, in countries that have implemented this idea, most people will not buy the
genetically modified foods, causing the price of unmodified products to rise. Since this label is
on the foods as a warning label of sorts, people are likely to want to avoid the products
altogether, creating a negative stigma. Another potential problem with genetically modified
organisms is that the modified organisms could potentially exhibit undesired traits due to the
close proximity of certain genes on chromosomes. Placing genes from one organism into
another could cause the modified organism to genetically code for certain proteins from the other
organism. While this doesnt seem to be an issue at first glance, this protein could be an
allergen, causing the modified organism to have the allergenic properties of the original owner of

the gene (Schneider). In addition, the modified organisms could have completely new allergenic
properties, or could cause some mutations to the bacteria that naturally reside in the human gut.
Yet another concern is that these organisms that are made to repel and kill their predators could
get out into the wild. Unchecked, these organisms would quickly grow and overtake their new
environments, similar to what kudzu has done in America. If genetically modified plants are to
be used as a main new source of food, great care must be taken to ensure that they do not enter
and destroy ecosystems around the globe.
Despite these few problems with genetically modified organisms, the potential benefits
far outweigh the negatives. With their better survivability, longevity, and higher yields, GMOs
are the most cost effective and better at feeding people. If humanity continues to grow at its
current rate, more food will be needed, and these genetically modified organisms are one of the
best ways to get that food. While there may be a number of concerns related to the usage of
GMOs, responsible and careful treatment and care of them could easily increase the food supply
of the planet.

Works Cited
Ahmed, F. (n.d.). Detection of genetically modified organisms in foods. Trends in
Biotechnology, 215-223.
Alford, Justine. "What You Need To Know About Genetically Modified Organisms."
IFLScience. 26 Aug. 2014. Web. 22 November 2015.
Burton, M. (n.d.). Consumer attitudes to genetically modified organisms in food in
the UK. European Review of Agriculture Economics, 479-498.
"Field Research." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 8 Nov. 2014. Web. 22
November 2015.
Holst-Jensen, A. (n.d.). Sampling, detection, identification and quantification of
genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Food Toxicants Analysis, 231-268.
Schneider, Keith, Rene Schneider, and Susanna Richardson. "Genetically Modified
Food1." EDIS New Publications RSS. Web. 22 November 2015.