I plan to research genetically modified foods and the effects that this scientific advancement has on society. A genetically modified organism is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. GMOs are directly connected to science, technology, and society because science and technology in this case are being used to change a commodity that society requires.In recent years, the prevalence of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, has been on the rise. They can be used to increase crop outputs and allow for more people to be fed. This is important when a large portion of the world lacks access to an adequate food supply. However, there have been many questions about the safety of GMOs and their production. There are concerns about health risks when it comes to human consumption about with the actual production of the food. My research question is to determine if we should invest in GMOs by weighting the risks of the production of GMO products and the benefit they may have on society. 

Paragraph I : What are GMOs and who is producing them 

self explanatory

Paragraph II : Benefits 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states that one of the positives of GMOs is that farmers can produce more nutritious food. Many foods are in the works for bio-fortification for this reason. Rice, for example, feeds 50 percent of the world’s population, so genetically modifying rice to have more vitamin A would reduce vitamin A deficiency in developing countries.

According to the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy, one of the pros of genetically modified crops is a better taste, increased nutrients, resistance to disease and pests, and faster output of crops.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations also says that farmers can grow more food on less land with genetically modified crops.

Paragraph III : Harms 

Herbicides and Health: The use of herbicide-resistant GMOs is correlated with higher uses of herbicides, which increases weed resistance.“Between 1996 and 2008, US farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds of herbicide on GMOs. Overuse of Roundup results in “superweeds,” resistant to the herbicide. This is causing farmers to use even more toxic herbicides every year.”  So whenever herbicides are used, the superweeds that are being sprayed by herbicides build up a higher and higher tolerance to the toxins, requiring use of harsher toxins.  So what are the effects of toxic herbicides? On the environmental front, Over 98% of sprayed insecticides and 95% of herbicides reach a destination other than their target species, because they are sprayed or spread across entire agricultural fields(Miller, 2004). Runoff can carry pesticides and herbicides into aquatic environments while wind can carry them to other fields, grazing areas, human settlements and undeveloped areas, potentially affecting other species(Tashkent, 1998). The consumption of pesticides, whether from contaminated water or food has been linked to a myriad of diseases.

Health Risks: The Pesticides Literature Review , based on studies conducted by a multi-university research team in Toronto concludes that “people should reduce their exposure to pesticides because of links to serious illnesses. Results of this study found consistent evidence of serious health risks such as cancer, nervous system diseases and reproductive problems in people exposed to pesticides…through home and garden exposure.”  A July 2007 study conducted by researchers at the Public Health Institute, the California Department of Health Services, and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health found a sixfold increase in risk factor for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) for children of women who were exposed to organochlorine pesticides. Genetically modified foods solve the pressing issue of pesticides. The preponderance of studies conclude that Gm crops reduce pesticide usage. A 2005 study in Pest Management Science, reported that planting biotech crops had “reduced herbicide use by 37.5million lbs..” Another 2007 study, by a team of international academic researchers led by Gijs Kleter from the Institute of Food Safety at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, concluded that in the U.S., crops genetically improved to resist herbicides used 25 to 30 percent less herbicides than conventional crops did. Given the risks posed by pesticide usage, including threats to all forms of life, a reduction in usage is an obvious, long term benefit- one that is provided by GM foods.

“The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) urges doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients. They cite animal studies showing organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility.” Furthermore, according to experts on GMOs from the IRT, “Genes inserted into GM so, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside us, and that the toxic insecticide produced by GM corn was found in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn fetuses.”