Why I'm Pro-GMO
Continuing the theme of my blog which is alternating between blog posts about building your personal brand on Instagram and..well everything else in life, today I'm explaining why I'm pro GMO!
I know I have to disclaimer this by saying all of the information is based on what I've learned during my lifetime (which *ahem* includes a human nutritional sciences degree) and what I believe.
First things first, do you know what GMO stands for? It's Genetically Modified Organism. Basically scientists take a gene from from plant and insert it into another plant in order to provide disease protection, health benefits etc. I get that it sounds a little freaky but if you think about it we've been cross-breeding plants for years and years it just takes a longgg time. This technology speeds up the process and allows us to do much more.
Lets talk about a few examples of GMOs
The first GMO was insulin! Yup that lifesaving medication required by diabetic patients. Insulin was originally harvested from pig livers but when this proved unsustainable scientists were able to create it using a GMO bacteria with human DNA.
Another one of the older GMOs is rainbow papaya (around 1998 I think). Papaya almost went extinct in Hawaii due to disease but when this GMO version was created it was able to flourish without being affected. However, this is also when a lot of the fear mongering around GMOs began.
Let’s talk about genetically modified foods as a whole group. You may be surprised at where you find them in day to day products. When do you think was the last time you last consumed a GMO product? Last year? Month? Week? This morning? GMOs can be found in salad dressings, chocolate, dehydrated soups, baking mixes and peanut butter not to mention protein powders, detergent, soap and pasta. Specific GMOs on the market today include soy, corn, sugar beets and canola - foods you most likely eat every single day.
Research for anti-GMO arguments
One of the most famous fear-inducing photos for the anti-GMO movement is this super gross picture of rats with tumours in them. Basically they were fed GMO products and after a few years developed tumours. What they don't tell you is that these bred rats grow tumours at the two year mark of their lifespan regardless of their diet. The research was proven invalid.
A second 'statistic' people use is that there has been a steady increase in autism since the use of GMO products on the market. If you compare two graphs side by side there is a correlation. However, we all know correlation and causality are very different things and in fact if you compare the increase in the trend of organic food consumption it actually matches the increase in autism more exactly. Obviously neither are the cause.
The reality is, prior to releasing GMO products for human consumption, products are compared with their Non-GMO counterparts in a variety of chemical, genetic, biochemical, compositional, nutritional and environmental tests as well as in comparison with known allergens and are always proven safe.
GMO Potatoes in the market place
This is my fav part! I did my fourth year thesis on why GMO potatoes would serve our health, environment and economy.
At this time GM potatoes have also been approved by the FDA and the USDA however we don’t find them in the mass production market even though they have the potential to benefit the environment, the consumers and the growers.
In the early 1990s scientists worked an a GMO potato that could be resistant to potato beetles and leafroll virus. In 1995 a GMO they called NewLeaf which was resistant to the potato beetles had been approved and rolled out. A small 1,800 acres were planted. Just three years later they developed “NewLeafPlus” a potato resistant to the Potato Beetles as well asthe Leafroll Virus. 55,000 acres of these were planted and sold in market. But by 2002…zero acres of GM potatoes were planted. Quick service restaurants suddenly refused to buy. Companies like McDonalds and McCains dropped the farmers they contracted to until they could clear their fields of GM potatoes due to consumer fear. At the time Idaho growers were saving $141/acre on pesticides, herbacides and insecticides thanks to the GMO seed potato. Apply this number to an average Manitoba potato grower at a 1000 acres and you’re looking a over $100,000 per year.
Basically this potato would allow farmers to apply LESS pesticides, herbicides and insecticides which in turn benefits the environment but, due to consumer fear Mcdonalds refuses to sell them. So gas up the aerial spray plane because now we'll have to spray insecticide and kill the potato beetles.
How GMOs benefit you
1. Stable costs. When fields are subject to disease yields can fluctuate year by year. When yields are low prices go up. GM technology can the stabilize risks through disease resistant varieties and allow consistent pricing year after year.
2. Enhanced health benefits. For example GM technology has been used to increase Vitamin A production in inexpensive grains that can grow in the dry land of Africa and COULD prevent blindness in children who are commonly born with deficiences. But..because of fear, the technology goes unused.
3. Economy benefits. There are farmers in Africa who lose almost half of their crop annually because they cannot afford chemical sprays and irrigation. Could you imagine the difference a GM crop could make for them? Doing everything they are the same with a different seed in the ground. Twice the amount of food to feed their families and their neighbours.
4. Environmental benefits. Due to less chemical application and reduction in irrigation (sprinkler systems).
Alright guys, I know that was a bit of a read! I really hope this makes sense and maybe you understand GMOs a bit more! If you want you can help increase the use of GMO plants by; talking about it, not supporting the Non-GMO label which is often used on foods with ingredients that don't even have a GM alternative and continuing to eat and enjoy GMO foods!
Thanks for reading