Genetically Modified Futures

In America’s developing years we flourished through farming. The sprouting agricultural world was honest and good as small farms were run and cared for by hardworking families, trying to live well and take pride in what they sold. Much like a seed, industry started to grow; with droughts and soil differences, it made changes and overcame difficulties. But who would’ve thought that plants nurtured from the ground would eventually turn into microorganisms hatched in a petri dish?

A Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is the result of a process done in a lab where genes from the DNA of a single species are taken and artificially forced into the genes of a different plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. The original idea behind GMOs was to try to create crops that had stronger desired traits. Scientists wanted to create more crops that had a stronger defense against pesticides, needed less water, and those that stayed fresh longer after being picked. The concept started out as a great idea, but the idea has since gone astray for some companies.

1994 GMO’s first hit the grocery stores when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Flavr Savr tomato to be sold. The delayed-ripening tomato had a longer shelf life than conventional tomatoes and was considered “better.” Perhaps it was better for the store with the profits of less waste and more money, but was it better for the customers? Since then, the industry has snowballed; GMO’s have all but completely taken over everything we eat. Some partially think that perhaps it was sought after as a way to help solve the world’s hunger problem. But, have GMO’s done more harm than good?

In her novel Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi writes: “Animals were so desperate for food they were willing to eat anything and people were so desperate for food they were willing to eat poisoned animals. We were killing ourselves by trying to stay alive. The weather, the plants, the animals, and our human survival are all inextricably linked. The natural elements were at war with one another because we abused our ecosystem. Abused our atmosphere. Abused our animals. Abused our fellow man.” Even though the novel is fictional, the quote makes an excellent point and holds some lessons that we need to seriously consider.

Humanity first arrived on this beautiful planet, teeming with new life and so many natural wonders… but it wasn’t enough. The more we developed, the more we began to cripple our Earth: injecting foods and dumping pollution with no thought or care to its effects. We weren’t meant for synthetic consumption… yet, everything we come into contact with on a daily basis is synthetic or unnatural.

Whether it began as a way to benefit those in need, or to make more money, the GMO way of life is lethal; it’s not just the produce. Remember what Sinclair wrote in The Jungle? The book, discussing the whole meatpacking process, served as a piece of satire attempting to expose what was truly going on. Since the FDA, however, things have gotten better—but not by much. They’re injecting steroids and hormones and chemicals into our food, and we’re letting them. Currently, 64 countries around the world require labeling of genetically modified foods and the USA is not one of them. Here, Big Bother doesn’t even have to tell you.

Years ago, all a parent used to want is a kid to grow up healthy and strong, telling them to eat their vegetables. Vegetables aren’t exactly good for your health when their genes have been manipulated. Think of what you’re blindly putting into your children’s mouths, or the unknown repercussions of their favorite so-called healthy snacks. Gandhi said, “The earth, the air, the land and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers but on loan from our children. So we have to hand over to them at least as it was handed over to us.”

Keep that in mind the next time you think about what you want for the future. We can’t accept GMOs as the answer; there has to be a better way… we just have to find it.

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