Colton High School
Brief History of GMOs The usage of genetically modified organisms in various food production industries generally is a popular reason for outrage. People consider that GMOs are interfering with genetic code to be disgusting or dangerous. Generally, people who are against GMOs do not completely understand GMs and, thus, consider it to be bad; the usual way people treat "new" and yet unknown things. GMOs are simply organisms, DNA of which was directly influenced by human in order to enhance them in this or that way. There are no other differences between GMOs and other products. If somebody had not thought of it as a good scapegoat for building up political influence, nobody would have ever heard about GMOs being wrong in the first place. While most people think GMOs are dangerous and deny GMOs because they are "new" to nature, what people do not realize is GMOs have been around and in our foods for years. Looking all the way back in history, we find that GMOs are not all a “new” invention. Going all the way back to the 1900 when a European plant scientist began using Gregor Mendel's genetic theory to manipulate and improve plant species; a method called "classic selection which allowed a plant of one variety to be crossed with a related plant to improve desired characteristics (American RadioWorks). The first true modern genetic engineering change in history was from Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen, who created the first successful recombinant DNA organism (American RadioWorks). Gail Cramer, a pristine awarded Agricultural Professor at Louisiana State University studied DNA in organisms; in the 1980’s he helped marked the scientific discovery that specific pieces of DNA could be transferred from one organism to another (Cramer, 2001). This became the basis of the genetic modification process. In 1983 the first genetic altered plant was a tobacco plant that was resistant to anti-biotics when first created (Cramer, 2001). Elizabeth Wiese, a USA Today Reporter researched on the history of GMOs for the upcoming labeling debate. After researching genetic engineering, in 1986 the Food and Drug Administration ruled that genetically engineered foods are substantially equivalent to conventionally produced foods, and was allowed to be sold in commercial retailers (Weise, 2015). Five years later, Monsanto (the leading biotech company), introduced herbicide-immune soybeans otherwise known as “Round-Up-Ready” (Weise, 2015). Many different herbicides had been causing problems because it was poisonous to the animals around the fields. Although, “Round-Up-Ready” herbicide was enhanced that have their DNA altered to allow them to withstand the herbicide called glyphosate (Weaver 2015). When planting glyphosate tolerant crops, a farmer can spray the entire crop with glyphosate, and kill only weeds, but be able to leave crops alive. In 1992, the FDA said genetically engineered crops are generally recognized as safe. FDA, in effect, said that those foods are no different from other foods and shouldn't be held to any different standards (Weise, 2015). After 1992 FDA permitted GMOs to be allowed in certain products in the US like soybeans, cotton, canola, and more. After the FDA’s research concluded that GMOs were safe, and farmers began raising crops with GMOs, and continued to find improvements. Even today, the hard work of those first few scientists’ research still is being used today. These products can help feed the world, thanks to the production of GMOs.
Production and Economics of GMOs
Today, biotechnology and the process of genetic modification is emerging and advancing throughout the planet. In 2009 biotechnology helped farmers reduce CO2 emissions by 39 billion pounds; the equivalent to removing 8 million cars from the road for the entire year (Best Food). What many people do not understand is GMOs are getting rid of