Tech beat

Reading Time: 2 minutes



What does it mean to have a GMO food product?


Elizabeth Suggs | Staff Writer


The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American public were polled by the Pew Research Center on whether genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were safe.

88 percent of the AAAS scientists said they agreed that GMOs are “generally safe” to eat. In contrast to that, only 37 percent of the public agreed with that sentiment.

“Whether a GMO is “good” or “bad” depends on the nature of the modification being made.” Eric Domyan, assistant UVU Biology professor, said. “People have been genetically modifying organisms for millennia through selective breeding practices, and what we today call ‘GMOs’ are a continuation of that process, using more precise techniques than were previously unavailable.”

Both Domyan and James Price, UVU Biology professor, aren’t surprised by the statistics.

“People are naturally suspicious of things they don’t understand,” Price said. “Some people are a little paranoid and they speak out from fear.”

According to AAAS, GMOs pose no greater risk than conventional plants. To label allergens when presented on food products makes sense. GMOs pose no risk, so there’s no need. AAAS also noted each GM crop must be rigorously analyzed and tested to be approved for consumption.

“Certainly something that is called ‘natural’ sounds preferable to something that has been ‘modified,’” Domyan said. “But very little of our lifestyle in the developed world resembles the ‘natural’ hunter-gatherer state, and very few of us would actually want to return to that state.”

According to GreenPeace, GMOs spread to the natural food products, interbreed and contaminate future generations. Because GMOs cannot be recalled, the “genetic pollution” is a major threat.

“I have heard claims that GMO’s have never killed anyone, and that’s not true.” Price said.

The Center For Disease Control and Prevention first reported eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome in 1989.

Showa Denko, a pharmaceutical company in Japan, genetically modified a strain of bacteria to have an increased level of tryptophan, an amino acid found in both plant and animal cells. The high concentration of tryptophan caused eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome and resulted in 37 deaths.

Most companies against GMOs, such as GreenPeace and the NonGMO project, advertise that we, as humans, are not “experiments,” and thus, shouldn’t be treated like one.

Superweeds and Superbugs can be created from GMO crops from the nature of how the GMO crops flourish, according to the NonGMO project.

“GMOs are our best opportunity to feed and clothe—and to some degree provide fuel and building materials to—the growing population,” Price said. “They can produce more stable, more affordable vaccines that can be used in the developing world where refrigeration and sterility are difficult to maintain.”