NORTH AMERICA. The continent we call home. With its majestic mountains, magnificent fresh water lakes and abundance of agricultural land, there is plenty to love about home. In fact we tend to pride themselves in the natural, locally grown products available within our borders. The farming trade has been part of the American way of life for hundreds of years. Recently though, there was a major change that altered the way food was to be grown not only in America, but all over the world.
It was the hot topic on T.V; every body had something to add to the discussion. Some were outraged, others overjoyed. What could have possibly caused such an up roar within our society? Genetically modified food, that’s what. Now, the concept of genetically modifying something is not new in and of itself. But never have we been able to take genetics from one animal or plant and integrate it into another (animal or plant) until very recently. You see, in the year 1996, GM foods were officially widely available and used in a number of everyday products, from breakfast cereals and cooking oils to soda pop. Nobody had much to say about it, because nobody really new. Farmers had slowly been switching over to this new and exciting way of cultivating. Why? The answer is obvious. Marketers promised the moon with these new seeds. Pesticides would no longer be needed, and the health issues that came along with them would be eliminated. Produce would stay fresher, longer, AND be able to better withstand frost. Plus there would be more food, which could be sent over seas to countries that were suffering from famine. All thanks to genetic modification. Guess what? These were not empty promises. The new crops really were that fantastic. The genetic engineers behind this revolution made it plain that they could accomplish even more with this technology. For instance, removing the allergy gene from a peanut, making it safe for millions with that allergy. Scientists felt the world was at their fingertips, what could possibly go wrong?
Well, when American consumers did find out that so much of what they ate had been genetically altered in some way, the consensus was either one of anger or confusion. They were angry because of being kept in a state of ignorance on such an important and personal issue. People were worried about the possible side affects as well. Scientists that were against this development, argued that GM foods could be causing severe allergic reactions for some, since they were injecting proteins into foods that humans have never consumed before. For instance they injected a strawberry with a fish gene, causing the fruit to be able to withstand frost better. Plus there was no concrete way of proving that the new foods were safe or unsafe. Also genetic modification has affected exporting in North America. Other countries will not accept products that contain the slightest trace of GM food. The fact that nothing was labelled as being a GM product was another big cause for upset. People got scared and began to panic, and rightly so. If something contains by products, then the label has to say so, because they know that some consumers abstain from foods containing blood. If it contains dairy, then they list it in the ingredients knowing that some people are allergic. But for some reason GM foods had no advanced warning supplied. The consumer’s rights were not being respected.
There is definitely a lot of good and bad that seems to derive from this topic. My opinion though, is that GM foods should be a CHOICE for us, but only a choice. Science has made some amazing leaps through genetic modification that I think will prove to be good for us as time goes on. Plus I have been exposed to GM foods my entire life. Eating them has been a daily occurrence. Maybe it would be a different story if I had never been exposed to this kind of product. But in my fourteen years there has not been any major side affect that I am aware of. I am healthy and do not feel that GM foods have restricted my abilities at all. Never the less, as stated before hand, there should always be a choice. If GM foods are to stay on the market they must be labelled so that consumers can decide for themselves what they want to be putting in to their mouths and their families mouths. It is a right, not a luxury. Plus it would be extremely helpful if the government would launch a campaign, giving the people an unbiased explanation of both sides of the story. Equipping us with the skills and knowledge that we need in order to make an informed decision for ourselves. Through my eyes, this is the best way to continue the exploration that has lead humans to such amazing heights without hurting anyone in the process.
So, there is plenty of good that has come from genetically modified foods. And there is some bad that is suspected to arise with time. The subject has certainly gotten its fair share of media coverage. But in the end, it is all about the choice you make for yourself and the food you decide to purchase. Make it fair; give GM foods a chance while keeping good old natural products in the grocery stores.