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Blog 1Genetically modified organisms, or GMO’s, are organisms whose DNA has been artificially modified in a lab through genetic engineering. This creates unnatural combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes. The graphic below tells you a little more about what GMO’s are and some statistics regarding them (GMO Facts).GMO’s are raising many concerns about human health. Because we are playing with the genes of these organisms, we don’t fully know what to expect.There have been many reports about the possible health concerns when eating genetically engineered, or GE, food. For example, Bt is a bacteria that produces a protein toxic to some insects, which is why it is used on food (Bt). A study at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada showed that Bt toxin was found in the blood of pregnant and non-pregnant women, as well as fetal blood. This toxin is supposedly harmless to humans because it breaks down in the human gut. However, this is not happening, and it is being found in the bloodstream (Concerns About GMOs). However, the “Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimates that we need to grow 70 percent more food by 2050” (Naam, 2014). So we either have to cut down more land to farm, or genetically modify plants to make them grow faster. This is a highly debated topic, and, as you can see, there are many advantages and disadvantages of GMO’s.Blog 2In 1935,  Russian scientist Andrei Nikolaevitch Belozersky separated a strand of whole DNA from an organism. This was just step one of what will eventually lead to genetically modified food (Woolsey, 2012). Around forty years later in 1973 the first GMO was created. Two scientists collaboratively found a way to cut out an organism’s gene and place it in another organism. Antibiotic resistance was made possible with this method (Rangel, 2015). 1982 found itself being the year in which the first GMO was approved by the FDA.Twelve years later, the first GMO was sold in stores. This was the Flavr Savr tomato, “a delayed-ripening tomato that had a longer shelf life than conventional tomatoes” (Woolsey, 2012). The proved that this technology was plausible and not just an inventive idea. However, no good deed goes unpunished, and 1996 gave the first sightings of GMO-resistant weeds, or superweeds . These weeds were very hard to kill and caused many problems for farmers (Woolsey, 2012). They are still a problem today. Woolsey goes on to say that in 1997, The European Union demanded all GMO foods to be labeled. This included animal feed. Today about sixty-four countries have these mandatory labeling laws, like Russia. In 1999, GMO crops were dominating the world with over 100 million planted acres. This caused the marketplace to begin accepting GMO technology at a large rate (Woolsey, 2012). After the turn of the century issues started arising. In 2011, for example, Bt toxin was found in the bloodstream of women who ate GMO’s containing this toxin. A year later, a French farmer sued Monsanto, a farming company, for chemical poisoning. He claimed that this was caused by its “pesticide Lasso, which was part of the Roundup Ready line of products” and he won the case (Woolsey, 2012). In 2014, the GMO patent expired. Blog 3GMO’s are a problem all over the world. They are currently a problem in America because not many strides have been taken to limit their use. Also, there are problems arising in Denmark and Argentina. Prize winning short film, Transgenic Wars, by French journalist Paul Moreira portrays some of the health problems of both humans and pigs in these two countries that are caused by GM crops (Mercola, 2016).The film starts in Denmark with pig farmers who are trying to find the cause of swine disease, or “the yellow death”, which causes diarrhea and is deadly to pigs. Most of the farmers fed their pigs GM soy, so was this the cause of the problem? Ib Pedersen, a long-time pig farmer in Denmark, started feeding his pigs the soy in 1980. At the time, the feed included around 20% GM soy. As the years went on, the ratio kept increasing. At the turn of the century, the feed included 90% GM soy. Ib would suffer the loss of many piglets each year until he stopped feeding his pigs the GM soy (Mercola, 2016).?In the span of two days, changes, like lack of diarrhea, were evident. Three years of non-GM feed later, and his pigs never got a case of swine disease. Pederson has identified to connections that may identify the problem more closely: GM soy connected to diarrhea was sourced from Argentina, which has seen many cases of diseases thought to have been caused by pesticide exposure. The similarities between the deformations of his pigs and the children made him think, “Could pesticide-contaminated GM soy be the cause of the pig farmers’ problems?” (Mercola, 2016).In the small rural village of Avia Terai, babies are born with illnesses of unidentifiable origins. A girl can be born with “black spots all over her face and body”, and the elders can be “dying from cancer” (Mercola, 2016). Avia Terai is encompassed by GM field, and villagers try to steer clear of being sprayed by Monsanto’s Roundup. When the tractor comes, people lock themselves in their homes until it is gone. However, avoidance is very hard in a village where the chemicals in the spray spread. This is a huge situation and the government has had to step in to help children whose parents were exposed to the chemicals (Mercola, 2016).In the film, Moreira finds that Monsanto’s Roundup uses atrazine, which is illegal in Europe but used a lot in the U.S.. Another thing he found was 2.4.-D, a main component in military herbicide Agent Orange, which was used extensively in the jungles during the Vietnam War. As stated in the article, “The promise that transgenic crops would lead to ‘greener’ agriculture and less chemicals has NOT come to pass. Instead, more and more chemicals are being used on our food and the feed we raise our livestock on” (Mercola, 2016). This adds more proof to the fact that GMO’s are harmful to the human body and should not be consumed. ?Blog 4In my first blog post, I told you why GMO’s are important to know about, whether for a bad or good reason. GMO’s are being used to grow plants faster for a fast growing world. As stated in that post, we need 70% more food by 2050 to support the growing population. But, as I have stated in my more recent posts, GMO crops are affecting the health of living organisms in a very negative way. Pigs in Denmark are getting sick by eating GM crops, families in Argentina are getting sick by Monsanto’s Roundup, and even the bee population is dwindling. Yes, GMO’s might be necessary for the growing population of the Earth, but are they really going to help?  We can’t really know for sure, but with all the health risks that are being posed, we can only assume that they will make the Earth worse. In the article “What You Need to Know About Genetically Modified Organisms”, the author states that many of the risks surrounding GMO’s include their safety. These organisms are being modified by artificial selection. And since their genes are being played around with, we don’t fully know what to expect. For example, the metabolism or growth rate may change. The fear about safety issues ignited after Gilles-Eric Séralini published a study about the effect of GMO foods on rats. The study showed that these rats developed tumors and died earlier than controls. However, this study was found invalid because of the conditions that it was performed under, and better designed studies showed no health risks (Andrews). All in all, GMO’s pose major health risks. It is important to check your food labels to see if any GM crops have been utilized into the package. Be aware and read more. Next time you’re buying food, check the labels to make sure that you don’t buy anything that could potentially harm you (although a candy binge every once in a while isn’t that bad).Blog 5No solutions have been tested on the topic of GMO’s, but a potentially successful solution to the GMO issue is labeling. Although it’s not much of a solution to the overall problem, it will make people more aware of what is in the food they buy. According to “Just Label It!”, a bill that states the requirement of labeling on GMO foods was signed by the president on July 29, 2016. The draft proposal will be released sometime in the fall of this year, 2017. It should be finished in July of 2018 (GMO Labeling in Congress).However, because of poor writing, the labeling could be in QR codes or 1-800 numbers, which isn’t what the public expects (GMO Labeling in Congress). Also, not all people own smartphones, so there must be scanners in every store (USDA Rule). The American population wants clear labeling, but all we can do is wait and see. Labeling is something that many Americans feel should be required as over 4 million Americans have signed the petition that wills the FDA to label GM foods. This new development is not just evident in America. In fact, 64 nations require the labeling of these food products. The countries include: Russia, China, and the EU (GMO Labeling in Congress). Blog 6GMO’s are being banned in many countries around the world. According to GMO FAQ, countries are banning either both the cultivation and import or banning the cultivation only. The countries that ban both include: Madagascar, Algeria, Peru, and Venezuela. Countries that ban the cultivation of GMO’s but allow import include: Italy, Greece, Germany, Poland, the UK, and Turkey (GMO FAQ, 2015). Banning GMO’s can help solve this problem because these countries do not get the food, and so they are not exposed to the dangers of GMO’s. The countries allowing import, however, do. This is why much of Europe requires GMO labels on their food. GMO FAQ says that the ban on cultivation in most of the European Union is not based on science, but rather other factors including the public image of the country. For example, there is “the French belief that genetic crops could ‘contaminate’ the country’s reputation as a world food capital” (GMO FAQ, 2015). If all countries ban GMO’s, there will be considerably less problems with them.  This banning does not have to be a permanent thing, however. We have not found out everything about GMO’s yet, so we do not know the consequences of eating them. If we ban GMO’s until further information is found, then this could significantly limit health problems resulting from GMO consumption. If the countries work together to find a way for GMO’s to be safe or to make more food to feed the growing population, then we will be healthier and not have to worry about the health hazards.  Blog 7Many people do not believe that GMO’s are a threat to the health of many organisms worldwide, including, but not limited to, humans. They think that GMO’s may be the only way we will have enough food to support our ever growing population. And based on the evidence we have received from things like the growth rate of food and the population growth, they are not wrong to believe that. I believe it, too, but I don’t think that GMO’s are the solution. And if GMO’s were the solution, then how come many countries have banned them? What do countries like Russia know that America does not?Something that is causing more and more people to be pro-GMO is that we are not given the whole story. People are not being rightly educated or given real life scenarios to make them think differently. With many people believing in the safety of GMO’s, there will be less of a chance of solving the problem or at least letting other people be educated about it. Going to the right websites and learning the right information will give you a better understanding of what GMO’s are and how they do affect an organism’s health. And even if you remain pro-GMO, you are better educated than you were before you did some research. Click here to learn about what GMO’s are and how avoid them, and click here to learn about GMO health risks.We are not being given the whole story, and the DARK Act, which stands for “Deny Americans the Right to Know”, solidifies that even more. The Act, which was passed in 2016 was mentioned in one of my blogs for a solution to GMO consumption. Now you’re probably wondering, if this is a solution, how is it also a problem? You see, the DARK Act requires GMO labeling on all foods; however, it does not specify how. The companies can label their foods with 1-800 numbers or QR codes, and this is not the clear labeling that Americans want on their food. So, although it could possibly help the GMO problem, it also hinders itself. The draft proposal will be released sometime in the fall this year, and the final draft will be released in 2018 (GMO Labeling in Congress). Blog 8An issue that is resulting from GMO exposure is the unintended spread the superweed. Superweeds, herbicide resistant weeds, began to sprout in 1996. Many farmers used herbicide resistant crops like GM cotton. These crops could tolerate Roundup. But, once the superweeds started sprouting, many crops were lost. Katey Parker of Just Label It goes on to say that today, more than 61.2 million acres of U.S. farmland are infested with weeds resistant to Roundup, which has been the world’s best-selling weed killer for 32 years”.

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