I try to always eat sustainably-sourced food that is organic, locally sourced, and non-GMO. Despite this preference, as a person who works in the Agribusiness sector, I can’t deny that there are many valid reasons why agriculture is so reliant on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and they do play a vital role in our food system. Personally, the choice to avoid eating non-GMO plants boils down to the fact that I have the luxury to choose and I base my choice not to consume on the reality that the data on these plants are fairly young.
However, I definitely do not eat non-GMO all the time. I travel constantly and there are many places in the world where you will have no choice unless you avoid many foods altogether. For me, that’s not a restriction I want to place on myself. I want to enjoy the food that’s available where I am. So I try to eat heirloom plants, ancient grains, heritage breed animals, and the like when I can but when I can’t I adapt.
Because of the inescapability of GMOs, I try to continuously learn as much about them as I can. Since they are a concern to me, as they are too many people, I try to stay on top of the current data and follow the newest developments as they arise. It is clear that GMOs have the potential to be used for many beneficial purposes, such as reducing reliance on pesticides, disease resistance, increasing crop yields, and improving human nutrition. When used appropriately and responsibly, GMOs can provide a number of positive outcomes in the agricultural industry.
One of the most important benefits of GMOs is their potential to reduce the use of pesticides and other chemicals. Planting genetically modified crops can reduce the number of chemicals needed to control pests, weeds, and diseases because they can be engineered to be stronger. Farmers have always used things like grafting, cross-pollination, and selective seed selection to manipulate the genes of plants. Technology just allows us the ability to put this process on speed dial. Having stronger plants that can withstand pests and disease does mean less need for agrochemicals and this can have a positive effect on the environment, as well as on human health, by reducing the number of harmful chemicals that enter our food supply.
Similarly, GMOs can also be used to increase crop yields and improve plant nutrition. For example, genetic engineering can be used to create plants that are drought-resistant and require less water to grow. This could be especially useful in areas where water is scarce and help to increase crop yields. Additionally, genetic engineering can be used to create plants that are higher in essential vitamins and minerals or to make them less susceptible to disease.
Golden rice is a type of genetically modified rice that has been engineered to contain increased levels of Vitamin A. This is an important development in global health, as Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness in the world. VAD is especially prevalent in parts of Asia and Africa, where diets are often lacking in the essential nutrients needed to maintain good health. Golden rice provides an affordable and accessible way to help combat VAD and other vitamin deficiencies in these regions. Additionally, it has been argued that golden rice could help reduce malnutrition and improve the overall health of people in these areas. While more research is needed to fully understand the potential impacts of golden rice, its potential to change the lives of those suffering from VAD is clear.
Engineering potatoes to produce less acrylamide, another example of GMO for good, is a challenge that scientists and engineers are tackling. Acrylamide is an organic compound that has been linked to cancer and other health risks and is formed when potatoes are fried or baked at high temperatures. To reduce the amount of acrylamide produced, scientists are focusing on the genetic engineering of potatoes to decrease the levels of asparagine, an amino acid that is involved in acrylamide production. However, as research continues, we may see more effective ways of engineering potatoes to produce less acrylamide.
Ultimately, the use of GMOs can have many positive implications for the environment and the agricultural industry. When used responsibly and with consideration for the potential risks, GMOs can help to reduce the need for pesticides, increase crop yields, and improve human nutrition.
However, agriculture is not the only arena where GMOs have been used to the benefit of humanity. GMOs have actually been used to produce medicines for decades. GMOs are living organisms that have had their genetic material altered or combined with other organisms, and they are used to create medicines with certain desired characteristics. GMOs have also been used to produce medicines for other illnesses, including cancer, cystic fibrosis, and hemophilia. For example, the hormone human insulin, which is used to treat diabetes, was the first medicine to be produced through genetic engineering. This process uses a genetically modified bacterium to create insulin. Other medicines created using GMOs include vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, and gene therapies. By using GMOs, scientists are able to create medicines that are more effective and have fewer side effects than traditional medicines.
6 Positive uses for GMOs
- GMOs can be used to create plants that are more resistant to pests, diseases, and environmental stresses, thus allowing farmers to produce more food with fewer resources and chemicals.
- GMOs can also be used to increase the nutritional value of foods and make them more affordable, particularly in developing countries.
- GMOs can be used to create plants that are more tolerant to drought, allowing farmers to produce crops in areas that may otherwise be too arid or inhospitable for cultivation.
- GMOs can be used to create plants that need fewer resources to grow, such as water and fertilizer, which can reduce the environmental impact of agriculture.
- GMOs can be used to create plants that can produce valuable compounds, such as pharmaceuticals, and this can lead to new medical treatments for diseases.
- GMOs can be used to create plants that filter out toxins from the environment.
While the jury is still out on the potential benefits of GMOs, research has suggested that they could potentially have several positive impacts on both humans and our planet. It’s important that further research is conducted to ensure that any potential benefits of GMOs outweigh any risks. Ultimately, it is essential to approach this topic with an open mind and to look at the evidence in an objective and unbiased way.