Film sparks debate over necessity of GMO labeling

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(J.T. Kim | Concordiensis)

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, the Schenectady Public Library showed a documentary to a 40 seat crowd titled, “GMO OMG”.

The acronym GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organisms.”

This educational film aimed to inspire committed anti-GMO activists and uninformed viewers to take up the issue of holding big corporations more accountable for and transparent about their studies involving using GMO seeds in crops.

The film opened by exclaiming that the practice of using GMOs in everyday life was first introduced when certain crops were treated with toxic pesticides to prevent harm to the crops during irrigation.

The Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, also known as the Farm Bill, then sparked heated debate over GMOs.

It was the first major federal policy to promote the use of GMOs due to the spike in production of crops like corn and wheat.

Certain government officials with connections to scientific health think tanks have attempted to reform the 2008 Farm Bill, because of their conviction that GMOs are not a healthy substitute compared to non-GMO foods for long-term human development.

They cite studies from organizations such as the Institute for Responsible Technology, who found that consumers of modified food products are nearly twice as likely to experience chronic illnesses.

Anti-GMO advocates are also concerned that gene mixing may cause nutritional side effects and infections for the babies of those consuming GMOs.

Pro-GMO analysts argue that GMO crops reduce reliance on toxic insecticides that are harmful to the environment. They reason that foods produced from such crops are safer to consume than non-GMO food.

Moreover, economists argue that GMOs have strengthened the agriculture sector of the U.S economy by increasing the yield of crops.

However, as a result of this, farmers who don’t use genetically modified raw products are at a competitive disadvantage, forcing them to raise their prices in order to keep their businesses afloat.

This is the reason why products that are labeled as ‘organic’ have such high price markups in retail markets like Whole Foods compared to similar items that you can find for a cheaper price in places like Wal-Mart or PathMark.

Whatever an individual’s views may be on the GMO issue, a consensus of those surveyed by a poll conducted by ABC News in 2015 found that 52 percent of the 1024 individuals surveyed thought that GMO foods were unsafe.

The same poll also found that 93 percent of those surveyed believed that the U.S Food and Drug Administration should make GMO-labeling a requirement.

The poll raises the question whether the fight for GMO labeling stems from people’s fears toward such products even though such labeling would not help people understand the advantages and risks of GMO’s.

Currently, the U.S Food and Drug Administration does not require the labeling of genetically modified products.

Nevertheless, the labeling issue has sparked a debate regarding transparency in exposing GMO derived foods.

The burrito franchise, Chipotle, received massive criticism in 2013 when it was discovered that it was buying GMO beef for its franchise stores.

Chipotle issued an apology and a promised to prevent any enhanced foods from being used in any of their 1,595 locations.

GMOs can even be fed to pets. If you feed a guppy fish enhanced food chips, their bodies will glow in the dark. GMO’s on pets is radically changing the lives we live to the point that it has even become a popular substitution to nightlights in a child’s bedroom.

GMOs are such an issue today because its effects can be felt by all consumers on every level of the food chain.

The screening was meant to bring awareness to an issue that is not popularized in present day media, while raising the question on how GMO’s affect our freedom to choose and control our individual diets, and our global food system at present.

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