Genetically Modified Organisms. They are in the news constantly, there are people campaigning relentlessly to get them banned, and there is still little scientific evidence that they are detrimental to our health. Humans, in fact, have been eating GMO foods for thousands of years. Tomatoes, corn, rice, and almost all others as we know them have been modified from their original and wild counterparts. The difference between those, and the GMOs we are seeing today, is that todays GMOs have been changed on a genetic level. Something that once took many generations can now be manifest immediately. Here is where GMO production can go wrong.
Genetically Modified Organisms
The majority of GMOs are not done so that they can grow super crops. That is possible, but people dont want to go to the store and buy a 15 pound tomato. Instead, GMOs are created to help reduce what is needed to grow those foods.
For instance, corn can be modified to ward off pests. Fewer pests means fewer chemicals needed to grow the corn. The farmers have a more abundant crop, there are fewer chemicals sprayed onto the plants, and everyone is happy right? Well, in theory yes.
The Worst Case Scenario
Lets suppose corn was modified to kill off any bugs that eat it. One bite of corn, and suddenly those bugs are dead. But then the pollen from that corn blows onto wildflowers. Some moths land on the flowers to get a bite to eat and they die. Now there are fewer moths, so the bats that rely on the moths cant get enough to eat, and the following summer their numbers are down (they didnt have the nutrition needed to produce babies). Because there are fewer bats, there are now more mosquitoes. Mosquitoes, as we know, can carry a lot of diseases, and more mosquitoes means that more people are falling ill. If the cycle isnt stopped, the human race dies out. Check out Bill Nyes video for his description of this process.
Now thats obviously a very drastic scenario, but that is why many people are concerned about GMO products. So much so that some countries, like China, wont even accept shipments of GMO products from the US.
GMOs, in and of themselves, are not bad. They are a great boon to society and help to increase the amount of food we can grow on the limited number of acres available. However, the wider implications for the overall ecosystem are yet to be fully understood.