Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

What is the future of genetically modified food? It’s obvious that right now, people aren’t buying into it. According to a CBS News/New York Times poll, 53 percent of Americans say they won’t buy food that has been genetically modified. What is it about this futuristic sounding agricultural trend that scares us?

Is it that we’re afraid of the way the phrase sounds? Almost as if it’s something out of a science fiction movie? For some, it triggers images of super-viruses ravaging the land and causing widespread famine. Many, including myself, are afraid of the unknown side effects.

Regardless of the reason for your fears, there are some known reasons why genetic engineering may not be as safe as it’s touted to be. A prime example of a situation where it could go awry has recently hit the news; Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack approved the use of RRA (Roundup Ready Alfalfa) in US crops. In this particular case, alfalfa is modified to withstand application of Roundup herbicide. It is supposed to allow for the herbicide to be freely spread, and result in a weed-free, wonderful alfalfa crop.

And here, the problem arises. As the Roundup Ready Alfalfa is grown, weeds will develop resistance. This is a high school biology concept, and it’s already been known to happen in other crops such as soybeans and cottons. Yes, we could develop more remedies to nullify the resistance, but that in turn would lead to the same situation over and over ad infinitum.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid genetically engineered products. This is because although most packaged and processed and foods do contain processed foods, the FDA does not require “disclosure of genetic engineering techniques…on the label,” and consider GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) to be the equivalent of conventional crops. According to a CBS article, more than 90 percent of the United States soybean crop and three-quarters of the corn crop is genetically modified. In order to abstain from these products completely, you’d either need a solely organic diet (which, let’s admit, is a very hard thing to do) or do lengthy research on websites to see which products contains certain ingredients.

So let me ask you, if genetically modified food is as safe as it’s touted to be then why are large food companies choosing not to include them on their product’s label? GMO’s may have potential for certain applications, but only in the future when we have a better understanding of the consequences and how the process affects our environment. As for right now, the risk of unleashing highly resistant, genetically strengthened bacteria upon our crops is simply too high. Organic food remains both the safest and healthiest choice, and it’s likely to remain that way for quite a while.