By Yosef Scher, Science and Technology Editor
This past week, I walked into Walmart hoping to have a pleasant shopping experience, only to be greeted in the produce section by two combative customers arguing about GMOs. On the one hand, the mother was making her case that GMOs are unhealthy for you and have been shown to cause cancer. She told her daughter that it would be better for their family to get non-GMO produce to avoid the possible harmful effects GMOs could have on their health. On the other hand, the daughter was not convinced and proceeded to voice her opinion, by telling her mother that GMOs are just as good as non-GMOs, and that the mother should stop worrying so much.
While I did not get involved in their argument, I wondered who was right: was the mother correct in saying that GMOs are harmful for you and can cause cancer, or was the daughter’s point that there was virtually no difference between GMOs and non-GMOs more accurate? Later that night, I decided to research the answer and resolve this perplexing conundrum.
Although both sides of the argument have some validity, I have concluded that the daughter was more correct than her mother, based on the plethora of articles from credible sources on the internet that support her point. However, before I explain why the daughter had the better argument, it is essential to define what GMOs are. According to the Non-GMO Project, “[a] GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology.” While some evidence supports the mother’s argument, it lacks compared to the benefits that GMOs provide for our society These benefits include producing tastier and more nutritious foods, allowing plants to grow faster where farmers now have the opportunity to make more money, increasing the shelf-life of many foods, and yielding crops that have more desirable traits. These are just a handful of the benefits that GMOs contribute to our society. Regarding the mother’s point that GMOs cause cancer, there has been no evidence to suggest a correlation between the two. The only negative aspect of GMOs is the rare allergic or toxic reaction that can ensue from eating them, but the number of cases that are a result of eating GMOs is so insignificant that it is hardly relevant.
Based on the evidence collected, there should be no reason why you should insist on putting only non-GMOs into your shopping cart. Besides the fact that non-GMOs are more expensive than GMOs––due to the extra care needed to tend to the crops––scientific research has not shown any benefit to eating non-GMOs compared to GMOs. Even with all of the data out there, I was shocked to learn that 46% of consumers are still skeptical about GMOs, and 70% cited concern about possible health issues that may arise from eating GMOs. As someone who bases his information on the facts, I am appalled that after all this time and knowledge presented to the public about GMOs, consumers still continue to pay higher prices for non-GMOs. The next time you go to the store, I urge you not to fall for the marketing trap of non-GMOs and make the intelligent and frugal decision to buy GMOs.