In recent years we’ve been hearing more and more about GMOs, and while most of us have an opinion on them, there is still so much we don’t know about these things. Let’s take a look at some facts that could be slipping under our radars.
GMO stands for genetically modified organism and the process is considered a bioengineering technology. The process involves extracting the foreign DNA of one organism and inserting it into the DNA of a totally different organism. The organisms don’t have to be of the same species, as long as they have genes, the process is possible.
The first GMO to reach the market was a tomato known as Flavr Savr and it was sent to the FDA in 1992 for approval. By 1994 the FDA approved Flavr Savr and it appeared in markets until 1997 when the developer stopped producing the tomato. Compared to non-GMO tomatoes they had a longer shelf life and lasted longer after being harvested. The FDA also stated that there was no difference in the nutritional value between the two tomatoes, nor did the GMO tomato pose significant health risks versus the non-GMO tomato.
We often associate GMOs with food only, but this isn’t the case, GMOs can also be in cotton. And if there are GMOs in cotton, that means there are GMOs potentially lurking in our sheets, towels, and clothes.
There is a chance that scientists could use GMOs to bring back extinct species. This process would look like changing the DNA of existing cousins to resemble their extinct cousins. Scientists say however that changing the whole DNA and/or reversing evolution is considered a long-distance goal.
While some countries are very much against the use of GMOs, it was the United States that was the first to invent these crops. In fact, 93% of soy and 88% of corn in the United States is being genetically modified. Corn is used for a number of things such as a thickening agent, a sweetening agent, and for feeding farm animals, while soy is used to feed farms, is a big source of food oil, and can even be used as a biofuel. Another stat proving the United States’ loyalty to GMOs lies in how much food at grocery stores contains GMOs. That number? 60 – 70%. (Source)
One redeeming quality of GMOs is that because of certain genes, such as the Bt gene which is harmless to a plant, but deadly to certain insects, fewer pesticides may be used on certain crops.