Pin Me

You Are What You Eat: Benefits and Risks of Genetically Modified Foods

written by: JenniferB•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 7/1/2011

The debate over genetically modified foods can be confusing. What are they? What are the benefits? Are there risks? Find the answers to all your GMF questions here!

  • slide 1 of 1

    Do you know what's in the food you eat?

    Think about what you ate for breakfast.

    Whole wheat toast, scrambled eggs, a bowl of fruit and orange juice. Healthy, balanced and most importantly, it satiated my hunger for a little while.

    But that healthy, balanced breakfast of yours wasn't as healthy or harmless as you might have thought. There is a very real chance that at least one of the products that you consumed was genetically altered. Should that concern you? Probably. Read on:

    Browse the benefits

    (1) Pesticide alternative Crop loss due to pests can be financially crippling for farmers which is the reason most farmers use pesticides. As an alternative to pesticides, crops such as corn and soybeans can be genetically altered to resist pests - making the farmer, the consumer and the environmentalist happy.

    (2) Disease resistance There are many diseases - including fungi, viruses and bacteria - that can attack crops. With new GM technology, scientists can create crops that are genetically resistant to these attackers.

    (3) Cold tolerance In order to prevent cold temperatures from killing crops, scientists can take a gene that causes cold water fish to produce "antifreeze", and place it into certain plants that are susceptible to frost.

    (4) Drought resistance Genetically altering crops to resist drought and grow in otherwise unideal conditions (like poor soil quality), farmers are able to grow crops in areas that were previously unsuitable for agriculture.

    (5) Adding nutritional value Scientists are able to identify nutritional deficiencies in specific parts of the world, and genetically enhance the corn in order to satisfy the nutritional need.

    What's Wrong With GMFs?

    Despite these advantages, a growing number of consumers are rejecting GMFs. Some countries have have banned genetically modified foods or required that all genetically modified ingredients are highlighted on food labels. Why? Scientists are concerned about how GMFs may impact health. Some research shows that GMFs can cause allergies. So far, however, there's not direct evidence of these or other allergies caused by genetically altered foods. Aside from allergies, there is also concern about the lack of testing that is done on GMFs. Do we really know the longterm health risks?

    source: CSA