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Pros & Cons of GMO Foods

Last Updated: Jan 13, 2014 | By Joshua Duvauchelle

Wheat is a common GMO crop. Photo


Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

Overview
GMO foods are genetically modified organisms that have had new genes from other organisms added to their
existing genes, according to Brown University. The university says the goal of such genetic engineering is to give
the original organism new characteristics, such as disease resistance. Although GMO foods may have several
benefits to your health and the general well-being of the farming industry, it may also present several potential
drawbacks.

Cons: Allergic Reactions


GMO foods can present significant allergy risks to people, according to Brown University. Genetic modification
often mixes or adds proteins that weren't indigenous to the original plant or animal, causing new allergic reactions in
the human body. In some cases, proteins from an organism that you're allergic to may be added to an organism that
you weren't originally allergic to, prompting the same allergic reaction experienced from the first organism.

Pros: Insect Resistance


Some GMO foods have been modified to make them more resistant to insect pests. The University of California in
San Diego reports that a toxic bacterium can be added to crops to make them insect repellent, yet safe for human
use. This can reduce the amount of pesticide chemicals used on the plants, thus potentially reducing exposure to
pesticides.

Cons: Decreased Antibiotic Efficacy


Some GMO foods have had antibiotic features built into them to make them immune or resistant to diseases or
viruses, according to Iowa State University. When you eat them, these antibiotic markers persist in your body and
can make actual antibiotic medications less effective. The university warns that such ingestion of GMO foods and
regular exposure to antibiotics may be contributing to the decreased effectiveness of antibiotic drugs that is being
noticed in hospitals around the world.

Pros: Environmental Protection


Oklahoma State University reports that the increase of GMO crops and animals often requires less chemicals, time
and tools, and may help to reduce environmental pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and soil erosion. This can
improve the general beauty and health of the environment surrounding farms and contribute to the sustaining of
better air and water quality, which can indirectly benefit your personal well-being.

Cons: Gene Transfer


A constant risk of GMO foods is that the modified genes of the organisms may escape into the wild. Brown
University warns that herbicide-resistant genes from commercial crops may cross into the wild weed population,
thus creating "superweeds" that are impossible to kill with herbicides. A related risk is that the escape of genetically
enhanced animals and vegetation can create new super-organisms that can out-compete natural animal and plant
populations to drive certain species into extinction.

Pros: More Nutritious Foods


The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations reports that some GMO foods have been engineered
to be more nutritious in terms of mineral or vitamin content. Not only does this help you get the nutrients you need,
it can also play a significant role in battling malnutrition in the developing world. The United Nations advises that
vitamin A-enhanced rice is helping to reduce global vitamin A deficiencies.