Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs are a hotly debated topic. These are plants are breaded and genetically engineered by scientist to produce a given outcome. Often that outcome is tastier fruit, resistance to harsh conditions and pests, and even adding more nutritional value to the food itself. Some people argue they are going to destroy the ecosystem, others say they are going to end world hunger. It’s the second part of that statement that’s most interesting to us. Are GMOs going to end world hunger? Although there is no definite answer yet, let’s look at what GMOs are currently doing for everyone, but especially low-income families in the United States.
It’s commonly known that low-income families are often unable to afford fresh foods, instead buying and consuming tons of processed and fast food which is usually cheaper. According to National Geographic, “More than 60 percent of all processed foods on U.S. supermarket shelves—including pizza, chips, cookies, ice cream, salad dressing, corn syrup, and baking powder—contain ingredients from engineered soybeans, corn, or canola.” So GMOs are already common place in our cupboards and are regularly consumed by low-income families. Why is that? Because GMO crops are more nutritious, tastier, disease free, require less land, use less pesticides, have longer shelf life, increase yield and are faster growing. All of this brings the cost of food down, while increasing the value of the product.
Environmentally, use of chemical herbicides have decreased by 37% since GMO crops were introduced, and soil erosion as also substantially declined. This means less exposure to chemicals for the farmers, and less chemicals on our food once it reaches stores. Reducing exposure to chemicals is also healthier for the farmers, reducing health risks associated with those chemicals, and reduces the impact on the surrounding environment – making it a better place to live.
Since GMO foods are so ingrained into the American diet, there’s no science to say what the pros and cons are to eating foods with GMOs verse no GMO foods. However, based on the science we do have, we can make some assumptions. Having more nutritious GMO foods makes “junk food” a little bit healthier. GMOs allow for boxed foods to include more nutrients, which fights the malnutrition which often comes with obesity. And GMOs allow food costs to go down, making food more affordable for everyone.
Related | The Link Between Poverty and Obesity
The National Institute of Health also notes that, “The fight to [end] poverty and hunger will not be won and people will still go hungry if the fundamental causes of hunger and food insecurity are not tackled.” GMOs aren’t the answer to fixing hunger in the United States or the world. But it’s one part of the puzzle that can help reduce poverty and end food insecurity.
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