At this past week’s meeting, our Energy and Environment Center leader Swara and body member Sam led a riveting discussion on the place Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have in our society today. We discussed the effects GMOs have on our environment and businesses, and the potential role they could take in combatting world hunger.
GMOs constitute a substantial portion of the American diet- at least 90 percent of soy and corn in the US, for example, is genetically modified. We discussed whether or not we were comfortable with the status quo of GMOs, and most of us agreed on the fact that GMOs most likely did not pose a significant threat to human health, as studies have shown they post no acute threat. On the question of labeling GMOs, some agreed that they should be labeled, trusting that consumers would realize the relative safety of these products, while others believed that public misconception would dissuade consumers from purchasing them. On the question of whether they could be an effective means of tackling hunger and malnutrition in poverty stricken areas of the world, like Sub-Saharan Africa, some members agreed that they could have a crucial role to play. Others said that if GMOs were exported to these countries, large agribusinesses like Monsanto, which develop a substantial amount of GMOs in the US, should not be a part of the equation, lest they hold a monopoly on these countries agricultural sectors and potentially worsen their impoverishment.
Should GMOs be labeled? Can certain strains of genetically modified food, like “Golden Rice,” which has been inserted with a gene to increase vitamin A production, tackle hunger without any risk to people’s health? Let us know in the comments below.