A news website produced by students of A.P. Giannini Middle School
By Aiden Shiu
What if you could use genetic engineering to solve problems facing us? Can these creations turn out to be bad? In this article I will be talking about GMOs. GMOs are living organisms whose genetic material has been manipulated and altered by people in a laboratory through genetic engineering. There is a lot of controversy around GMOs. Today I will give you some reasons why GMOs are both good and bad, so you can make up your own mind on the topic.
In the U.S.A, corn, sugar beets, canola, and cotton are all over 85% GM crops. Sometimes, we can even use genetic material from other organisms such as bacterias or other animals. We can put this material into what the scientists want to genetically modify to give the crop or animal a certain trait or ability. GMOs can also be called transgenic organisms due to this. Now let’s get to the point. What good can GMOs do?
In 1992, a terrible discovery had been made in the district of Puna in the Hawaii islands where 95% of Hawaiian papaya were grown at the time. It was a virus. A virus that infected papayas named the Papaya Ringspot Virus (PRSV). In two years, the virus became widespread, threatening to wipe out the Hawaiian papaya. So, what did we do about it? Using genetic engineering, we developed a new Hawaiian papaya that was resistant and pre-vaccinated against the virus. This saved Hawaiian papaya and the papaya industry. What would have happened without this GMO? From fitnessreloaded.com (“10 Reasons to Eat GMOs and Feel Grateful For It” by Maria), the writer states,” It’s no secret that GMO crops can produce more with less. Talk about being efficient. So your acre will get you more fruit/veggies if it’s planted with genetically engineered seeds rather than with conventional ones. A UK report states, “Between 1996 and 2012, crop biotechnology was responsible for an additional 122 million tonnes of soybeans and 231 million tonnes of corn. The technology has also contributed an extra 18.2 million tonnes of cotton lint and 6.6 million tonnes of canola,” which is basically saying that GM crops are more efficient and can therefore feed more people than before.
What about the bad of GMOs? How can GMOs affect health? In the article by Responsibletechnology.org (GMO Education) the writer states, “Genetically modified foods have been linked to toxic and allergic reactions, sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ studied in lab animals. The effects on humans of consuming these new combinations of proteins produced in GMOs are unknown and have not been studied.” Once again on Responsibletechnology.org (“10 Reasons To Avoid GMOs”) the writer says, “GM crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms. They reduce bio-diversity, pollute water resources, and are unsustainable. For example, GM crops are eliminating habitat for monarch butterflies, whose populations are down 50% in the US. Roundup herbicide has been shown to cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths and endocrine disruptions, and organ damage in animals even at very low doses. GM canola has been found growing wild in North Dakota and California, threatening to pass on its herbicide tolerant genes on to weeds,” which means that our environment is at risk because of certain GM crops reducing biodiversity, polluting water, and threatening to pass off their herbicide tolerant genes to weeds.
What side do you pick in the argument on GMOs? Do you love them? Do you hate them? Or do you have some other third opinion?
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