Monday, June 23, 2014

What Do You Think About GMOs?

"Is this produce organic?" A few years ago, that was the most common question that I was asked at Daisy Mae's. More recently, the common question has become, "Is this produce 'local?'" In the last few weeks, however, I've noticed a new question has started to pop up: "What do you think about GMOs?"
The first two inquiries are fairly easy to answer. The organic question can be answered by explaining some basic economics and "what-the-market-will-bear" pricing. The local question is more of a geography question and is understood best in context of the growing season in Ohio. The GMO question, on the other hand, is a science question on the edge of philosophy, and so naturally it comes wrapped in controversy.
GMOs (Genetically modified organisms) are organisms whose genetic material has been altered due to genetic engineering. A television commercial ran in the 1970's in which we were reminded, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature," yet entire industries of biotechnology and genetic engineering have sprung up that do just that. GMOs are used in medical research, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture. With regard to farming, advances in science have allowed genetic modifications to crops that enhance pest resistance, add nutritional value, and help crops thrive in extreme conditions.
Many people have no problem with genetically modified foods. Most of our corn and soybeans are genetically modified for the reasons mentioned above. There is broad scientific evidence that genetically modified foods cause no more risks than conventional foods. Yet, some people object to GMOs, claiming the risks have not been adequately explored. Others complain of a lack of regulation regarding labeling. The jury is still out, and the discussion will continue. Like it or not, genetic modification seems to be the latest food controversy.
What do you think? Are GMOs something you think about when shopping?

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