Letter to the Editor: Genetically-modified food needs better monitoring

For the past decade, genetically modified organisms, more commonly referred to as GMOs, have been highly debated. One big topic regarding these genetically-altered crops has been the labeling of these when used in our foods. Since there are no laws on labeling these crops, we have no clue as to what has been modified and what hasn’t been modified, thereby making us believe that, for example, the corn we consume on a regular basis has been raised organically or by conventional methods, when in fact its genetic makeup has been introduced to a pesticide gene.

When an organism has been modified, it is tested in a laboratory to check if it has changed significantly enough to where it can no longer be considered what the parent product was. If it genetic makeup matches that of the original genetic makeup, it is given the green light to get put on the market; if it has changed to where it no longer resembles the original source, then it is rejected.

A large concern is the introduction of genes from foods that people have allergies to, to foods that people aren’t allergic to. This has brought up the use of peanut genes, since there are a large number of people who have allergies to peanuts. If the product isn’t labeled, people will unknowingly consume the product which could cause serious harm. People should be able to go to the grocery store and know exactly what is in the foods they are buying. It should be up to the consumer to decide if they want a banana that was grown organically or if they want a banana modified with an antibiotic that will cure their sweet tooth and their cold at the same time.

The answer to knowing that the foods we consume are modified is an easy one. Laws should be placed to warn the consumer of where the gene has come from. My belief on this is it will put people at ease. So many people are uptight about eating anything that isn’t organic because they believe they are eating some Frankenstein food that is going to kill them. By making people more knowledgeable about the foods they eat, I feel that many more will begin to support this technology.

I am not against GMOs in any way; in fact, I believe that as long as we keep a close watch on them and keep observing the progress of them, that we may in fact have found an answer to many of the diseases related to hunger and malnourishment in third world countries. I just believe that as a consumer I want to know whether or not my corn has a pesticide built into it or if my strawberry shares some traits with a fish found off the coasts of Alaska.

–David Martinez