Is Genetically Modified Food Harmful To Us?

In the grocery stores lately, have you noticed how many more things are labeled
“organically grown?” Do you know why organically grown food cost more? Most of the “cheap
foods” are genetically modified or hormone and steroid injected. These types of foods are mass
produced and modified to grow at a faster rate in order to be able to grow more and produce food
at a cheaper price. Genetically modified foods are a genetically engineered product that is
developed in the laboratory by taking DNA from one organism and inserting it into another. This
includes using growth hormones and steroids to beef up or mass produce cattle. The bigger
demand for meat and vegetables at a cheaper price has caused scientists to develop a way to cut
down on the length of time that it normally takes an animal to develop and a cheaper way to
grow their feed. There has been a lot of debate on whether or not it is safe for humans to
consume genetically modified foods and what the long term effect is? Should we continue
modifying our food to enable us to buy our food cheap and have enough food to feed
everyone? Not enough research and testing have been done to truly know how genetically
modified food and hormone injected cattle is effecting the United States.
With the population of the United States increasing so dramatically ordinary farmers can
no longer keep up with the food demand. So scientists looked for different ways to solve the
problem of food shortages and feeding the hungry at an affordable price. With genetically
modified foods and hormone-injected cattle, scientists have come up with the answer. They have
crops that can be grown cheaply and with little labor, using round-up ready corn which is corn
that has been modified to allow farmers to spray the ground for weeds but not kill the corn. With
this type of modified corn the farmer can produce more because the farmer don’t have to take the
time to hoe or cultivate it; he just sprays the corn and goes to the next field. Small farmers have
a hard time keeping up with factory farms. Factory farms can grow and produce many acres of
vegetables using sprays and modified seeds. This leaves the mom and pop type farms to have to
use modified seeds and sprays in order to try to keep up with the factory farms and not only are
farmers genetically modifying seeds but the meat we eat is also being modified.
Cattle are no longer grazing on green pastures as we all picture them to be. They are
being grown in over-crowded lots that they stand in until they have matured and then they are
killed and placed on our table for meat. The cattle eat, drink and use the bathroom in these lots
and can only look through the gates and see the green pastures they never get to grave on. In
these lots the cattle are standing up to their stomachs in feces and can barely move
around. Living in such conditions causes lots of illnesses. The cattle are injected with
antibiotics, this helps them gain weigh with less fed and keeps them from getting sick. This is
the reason when we are sick the doctors hesitate in giving antibiotics because we are receiving so
much through our food.

Not knowing what long term effect is to the consumer, cattle are injected with the same
steroids that have been out lawed for use in athletes because it was causing physical and mental
ailments. According to Eric Schlosser, who wrote, “Cheap Food Nation”, “the practice of using
hormones and steroids in cattle is legal in the United States but banned though out the European
Union, due to concern about its effect on human health” (Schlosser). A lot of studies have been
conducted on the effect of the hormones and steroids that have been injected into cattle. In
Schlosser’s article he talks about a study conducted by Danish scientists saying hormone residues
in U.S. beef may be linked to high rates of breast and prostate cancer, as well as to early-onset
puberty in girls (Schlosser). In Danylo Hawaleshka article, “Tainted Foods”, the author talks
about how our meats are processed and preserved with nitrite and nitrate salt and how this guards
against bacterial growth that causes botulism but the down fall to using this product is that it has
been linked to cancer. Our fruit, vegetables, meat, and milk have also been found to have trace
amounts of toxic pesticides (Hawaleshka). Many argue that laws need to be put in place to better
regulate genetically modified foods so the consumer can look at the package of the food and
know exactly what they are eating. However, is the consumer worried about these studies?
Most consumers live from pay check to pay check trying to make ends meet. When
going grocery shopping their only concern is to get the most for their money, not what’s in the
product they are buying? According to Schlosser, “the driving force behind all these changes has
been the desire to make food cheaper and produce it faster, this is the reason American’s spend
less of their annual income on food than anyone else in the world” (Schlosser). Does the
consumer need to pay more to be healthy or do we continue to eat unhealthy and cheap? Is it too
late to know about genetically modified food, can we go back to natural food or has our food
been changed so much we can’t go back? How do we know what foods have been
modified? Some farmers are saying they are producing organically grown food. How can they
do this when everything has been changed so drastically? These farmers don’t use fertilizer but
use manure produced form cows. How do they know if the cattle haven’t been genetically
modified? What about the soil they are using to grow these vegetables? The soil only has to
remain dormant for four years and they can consider the vegetables “organic”. There is no
testing to regulate the quality of the soil after this time period. Who is to say they are not still
hidden chemicals and pesticides? Are the seeds that they are using been modified
also? According to Jennifer Ackerman’s article, “humans have been altering the genetic makeup
of plants for millennia, keeping the seeds from the best crops and planting them in following
years, breeding and crossbreeding varieties to make them taste sweeter, grow bigger, and last
longer” (Ackerman). This allows the producer to jack up prices and label it organic but this is
nothing more than genetically modified food. I think regulation should be put in place when
labeling our food organic so the consumer will know what they will be eating.
Chances are that when we purchase products from places like Wal-Mart or Kroger we are
buying genetically modified foods. If we grow our own vegetables and meat, we can guarantee
we are not using hormones or chemicals but can we guarantee where the seed came from or

where the calf came from it wasn’t used? GM or genetically modified foods have been in
circulation since the early 1990’s and the consumers have been assured the ‘GM food is safe’
because no one has died or been found to get sick from it.
According to Eric Sachs, a spokesman from Monsanto, a leading developer of biotech
products: “Transgenic products go through more testing than any other foods we eat. We screen
for potential toxins and allergens. We monitor the levels of nutrients, proteins and other
components to see that the transgenic plants are substantially equivalent to traditional plants”
(Ackerman). Basically, Sachs is saying the GM plants are tested until they are found to be like
the traditional plants or it is not released to the public. But what if something happens like it did
in 2000? According to Ackerman, “genetically engineered corn, which was approved for animal
use only because it showed some suspicious qualities which could lead to allergens in food,
found its way into taco shells, corn chips, and other foods”. Who was watching this and how
could this have happened? Is the FDA really checking and keeping up with everything? What
about the 365 genetically engineered piglets that where sold into the U.S. food supply? “The
piglets had genes from cows to increase milk production and another synthetic gene to make the
milk easier to digest. We were told that the piglets did not pose as a health risk but no testing
was done to prove this” (Weise). Are we really being told the full story? No studies have been
done to make sure who consumed these pig didn’t come down with some type of cancer or
illness associated with these pigs.
How many other products have been released into our food source without our
knowledge? I believe that we have modified our food source so far that we can’t bring it back to
normal. Before we go any further with modified foods, I believe we need more regulations and
the products need to be labeled so the consumer knows what they are buying. More studies need
to be done on the long term effect on humans to gather more information to determine if GM
foods are really safe. I believe the consumer needs to be better educated to what they are buying
to eat instead of just looking at how much money they are saving from buying cheap food. If we
all try to grow our own vegetables and cattle we will know what we put in them to grow but then
we have to think about the fertilizer we use and the seeds we plant and the chemicals we use to
keep bugs from eating them. We will probably never know how much is too much when it
comes to something being genetically modified or hormone injected.

Works Cited
Ackerman, Jennifer. “Food: How Altered?” National Geographic 201.5 (2002): 32. Academic
Search Premier. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.
Hawaleshka, Danylo, Brian Bethune, and Sue Ferguson. “Tainted Food. (Cover Story).”
Maclean’s 117.4 (2004): 22-26. Academic Search Premier. Web 1 Dec. 2015.
Schlosser, Eric. “Cheap Food Nation.” Sierra 91.6 (2006): 36-39. Academic Search Premier.
Web 1 Dec 2015.
Weise, Elizabeth. “FDA seeks altered-gene piglets sold as food.” USA Today n.d.: Academic
Search Premier. Web. 1 Dec 2015.