Genetically modified organisms are organisms that have their DNA genetically modified in a laboratory that gives them qualities that do not naturally occur, such as introducing a gene from a different organism into the already existing DNA. When it comes to plants, the most commonly modified types are corn, tomatoes and soy, and the scientist working on them aims to make the plants larger, more nutritious or pesticide resistant. The Food and Drug Administration in the United States deems that GMOs are safe, and don’t require any testing for any modified products before they hit the market. Moreover, the FDA also states that it supports the voluntary labeling of these products as a GMO before they are put on the market, but doesn’t make it compulsory. This makes it difficult to separate the modified products from the traditional, naturally grown products.
There has been a lot of debate in the last few years about whether genetically modified plants are actually safe to ingest. People on both sides of the debate are adamant about their arguments. While the FDA does state that “Foods from genetically engineered plants must meet the same requirements, including safety requirements, as foods from traditionally bred plants”, the fact that there are no safety tests for any of the products bothers a lot of consumers. Moreover, many of the crops that are genetically modified are designed to withstand certain types of pesticides. This is done to separate the crops from the weeds: when a farmer sprays pesticides on a patch of land, he wants the weeds to die but not the crops. However, this means that these plants contain some amount of pesticides on them or inside them when they are harvested, and can carry dangers even when they are washed out thoroughly.
In the recent past, weeds have also evolved to become resistant to some types of pesticides, which will require a higher amount of pesticide to kill the weeds, which in turn leaves a lot of pesticide on the plants too. New research also shows that GMOs can be linked to the growing number of allergies and organ toxicity among other problems, though it cannot show a causal link between the two. However, some animal studies are also showing some disturbing effects of GMOs, such as liver failure, severe kidney and liver damage, shorter life span and mammary tumors. Though there have been a number of studies that have studied the harmful effects of GMOs on the human body, there have again been no causal links between the two.
The founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology, Jeffrey Smith, has stated that GMOs are undoubtedly harmful for human beings because of the small amounts of pesticide content in them, as well as their ability to produce an insecticide called Bt-toxin. He says that there is certainly a correlation between GMO consumption and conditions like allergies, increased risk of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and GI problems. Studies conducted later also state that conditions like Parkinson’s, autism, cancer and infertility are correlated with GMOs. These conditions take a long time to develop, but are certainly pushed ahead by the toxicity in the crops that are genetically modified.
A lot of the pet food on the market, especially dog food, contains corn and soy that is genetically modified. Smith says that the designing of these products is done in such a way that it contains traces of pesticide inside the actual corn and inside the soybean (not just the outside). This can lead to health problems in dogs, such as stomach inflammation, organ damage and movement issues. Since GMOs require no testing at all before being sold, and certainly don’t need to be labeled, it can be difficult to separate the healthier dog food options and the ones that contain genetically modified ingredients. However, most dog foods that don’t contain GMOs are very clear about it, and advertise organic and natural ingredients as the main part of their product. Making a home-cooked meal for your pet can also help them with a healthy and wholesome diet, and keep your pet’s body healthier.