As college students, we struggle on a daily basis to eat healthy and make the correct choices when it comes to our diet. Whether it’s eating food at the residents’ halls, or having to cook your own meals at home, there are thousands of options available for us to choose from and making the right decision can seem like a daunting task. As college students, having a diet that is healthy and affordable is of utmost importance and the best way to do that is by eating genetically engineered products instead to organic products for the following three reasons: one, they are safe, two, they are less expensive, and three, they are better for the environment.
It’s sometimes hard to grasp the concept of genetically modified organisms if you don’t have at least a small background in agriculture or have done some kind research, and the amount of information out there about GMOs and GE technology are extremely double-sided, and it’s hard to discern between what is fact and what is fiction. So here’s a quick definition: according to bt.ucsd.edu, a genetically modified organism is the result of a gene being moved purposely to another organism to improve or change it.
So one, the big controversy in the battle between GM and organic crops is whether or not these products are safe for us to consume. According to the CoalitionForSafeAffordableFood.org, the regulations put on GM products by the USDA, WHO, FDA, and many other agencies have produced products that are safe and have had no negative health effects associated with their use. One of my personal favorite examples of genetic engineering is insulin, where the insulin gene from pigs is inserted into bacteria and they produce the insulin that is then purified for medical purposes, mainly for the treatment of diabetes.
Next is the cost difference. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that most organically grown food products are more expensive than other products. Just go into your local grocery store and compare the prices between bananas in the produce department! The question you might be asking though is why? According to the CoalitionForSafeAffordableFood.org, ingredients grown using GM technology require less pesticides, a reduced amount of water and keep production costs down, which in turn help keep costs down for us. In addition, one in eight people among the world’s growing population of seven billion do not have enough to eat, and safe and effective methods of food production, like crops produced through GM technology, can help us feed the hungry and malnourished in developing nations around the world.
Lastly, the environmental benefits. No matter how much spin organizations like GreenPeace, the Humane Society of the United States, and even Chipotle put on how GM products are bad for the environment, if you look at the scientific data, you will see that we are in fact producing products that are safer than organic products, while continuing to decrease the amount of pesticides needed to grow these crops. GM technology is focused on producing crops that are drought tolerant and insect or herbicide resistant. According to CoalitionForSafeAffordableFood.org, from 1996-2011, GM crops have collectively reduced global pesticide applications by 1.04 billion pounds. Also, GMOs and good agricultural practices improve soil quality and reduce pollution by allowing farmers to mechanically work the soil less often or not at all.
Now that I have shown you why GMOs are the better choice when compared to organic products for a college student on a budget, I hope you can help inform others about the benefits of GM technology and why the ag industry is using this technology. To quote the British environmentalist Mark Lynas, “You are more likely to get hit by an asteroid than to get hurt by GM food, people who want to stick with organic are entitle to, but they should not stand in the way of others who would use science to find more efficient ways to feed billions.” GeneticLiteracyProject.org. So next time you hear someone talking about how organic foods are better for you, remember that GM products are one, safer, two, less expensive, and three, better for the environment, and you can set them straight.