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Daniel Erdely
Mr. Hull
Honors English II
26 February 2016
Research Paper
Food is an essential part of life. Where ever there is a large gathering of people,
there is food. Surprisingly, although food is a big part of ones life, many people do not
take the time to find what exactly is in their food. When they do, they find out it is not
good. People are slowly finding out genetically modified organisms and how they are
made. The health risks associated with eating foods that contain GMOs. GMOs are
used extensively in food and change the food supply. Genetically modified foods have
revolutionized the way food is grown, but it is a relatively new method of changing the
food people eat on a genetic level, which in turn has raised concerns about its safety.
First, GMO stands for genetically modified organism and which is a plant that has
been altered genetically so that it can resist disease, pests and herbicides. GMOs
originated about 20 years ago when the first GMO plant was put on the market. A
genetically modified organism is one that has the DNA from another plant or animal that
got inserted into it to alter the plant in some way. For example, in one type of GMO
corn, they inserted the gene from flounder that allows it not to freeze so that the corn
would not freeze during transportation and stay fresh longer (Lapidus 32). The most
common type of GMO plant is one that they have inserted a bacteria into. This is so
that they do not have to spray pesticides on the plant to reduce costs. The first GMO
product that was put on the market was the Flavr Savr tomato. They modified it so that

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it would ripen slower which means that it would have a longer shelf life than other
tomatoes. In 1996 a lot of other GMO plants went on the market, however these plants
were modified to resist herbicides and pesticides that would have otherwise killed the
plant (GMO Timeline A History of Genetically Modified Foods).
Second, GMOs are made by a precise method that allows scientists to insert the
new gene into a plant and ultimately solve the problem. It all starts with a problem that
cannot be solved with traditional methods. They then look to see what DNA can be
inserted into the plant to solve the problem. For example, the Papayas in Hawaii were
infected with what they called PRSV or Papaya Ring Spot Virus. It cut their papaya
production in half. They eventually found out that if they inserted some of the DNA of
the virus into the papaya that the papaya would produce a protein and it would be
resistant to the virus. One common way that they insert that gene is through DNA
bombardment. This is when they shoot DNA coated metal particles at the seed to insert
the new DNA into the seeds DNA. Another way that they insert the DNA is through
plasmids. They attach bacteria with the plasmids to the cell which then infects the cell
As has been mentioned, GMOs have had a wide range of applications to aid in
the production of food. They have been used to make plants resistant to pests and also
Round-Up. This ultimately increases food production and overall quality. Particularly in
being resistant to the the corn borer. It is a little insect that bores into corn and eats out
the husks and it is very hard to get rid of it once it gets established. It caused problems
in the production of corn because it would just eat away at the husk and ultimately be
inedible. Because of this problem, they inserted the pesticide right into the corn so that

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whenever the corn borer would eat the corn it would die basically making it immune to
the corn borer. They also have genetically modified most corn to be resistant to the use
of herbicides. This allows them to spray such things as Round-Up to kill the weeds but
it wont kill the corn because it has been genetically modified (Bessin).
Since GMOs are a relatively new way to modify food, there are some unknown
health risks that go along with them. The most used thing that causes the different
effects are toxins. One of the most common toxins that are in genetically modified food
is Bt-toxin. Bt-toxin is a bacteria that produces a toxin that is toxic to insects. It is used
in corn to kill the corn borer as stated earlier. It is easy to produce and also the most
widely used toxin in the world. This toxin is good for the food industry, but it has
unknown effects on the people that eat corn that contain it. For instance research
shows that the toxin doesnt leave the body with the food it was consumed with
(Edward). This means it takes a long time to get it out of the body and it can build up.
As a result of the toxin being sprayed around Vancouver to kill gypsy moths, six people
went to the hospital and many more reported flu-like symptoms (Smith 18-19).
Moreover GMOs are said to increase your chance of getting a disease or just
feeling sick. By eating food that contains GMOs one could be destroying their immune
system. In a study done on rats the researchers found that it made the rats immune
systems shut down. This made it impossible to get rid of the tumors that developed
because of their immune systems being destroyed. Genetically modified organisms can
also alter a humans biochemistry (Nacci 26-27). All the genetically engineered crops
that people are eating contain viruses, bacteria, and genes from other animals that the
body has never seen before. This causes the body to react in ways that have never

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been seen before by doctors. All of these things that happen to the body and go into
the body will have an unchangeable effect. Furthermore, it will take a long time to get
rid of the toxins that are in the body and even longer to reverse the effects that they
have on the body (Mercola).
More importantly GMOs cause new diseases that are harder to cure and more
severe than natural diseases. When these foreign substances come into contact with
the body from genetically modified food, the body does not know what to do with them.
One study by researchers found that GMOs caused at least 22 new diseases. They
also discovered that they made normal diseases harder to cure. Some of the things
that they cause are infertility, obesity, accelerated aging, and changes in the liver,
kidney, and spleen (Sarich). These things all cause changes to a persons body. For
example some GMO foods contain all the amino acids which can make some cancer
diets ineffective. They can only uptake the vitamins and minerals from these diets when
they eat non GMO grains. Otherwise they will not get the vitamins and minerals they
need to help fight off the cancer (Nacci 28).
Moreover besides the health risks, there is other important information about
GMOs that will allow you to avoid eating foods that contain genetically modified
organisms. If one would go to the supermarket today he would come to realize that
most foods are genetically modified. As a matter of fact, 75 percent of the packaged or
processed foods in the supermarket can be found to contain some type of GMO. Even
meats are mostly genetically moddified because of the feed that they feed the cows and
pigs are from GMO corn. These high percentages are from the high percentages of
crops that are genetically modified. 92 percent of corn is GMO. 94 percent of soybeans

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are GMO. Moreover 90 percent of cotton is GMO. These percentages have been
growing steadily overtime but have flattened out in the past 5 years (Recent Trends in
GE Adoption). Not all GMO crops get put on sale in the supermarket though. Some of
the processing food factories will not accept some of the genetically modified corn to be
used in their product. They reject them because even they do not think that the food is
safe to consume (Food and Water Watch 76-77).
Regarding the fact that genetically modified crops pose some health risks, it has
caused the EU to ban most of them and the ones that are legal are labeled on the
package. Moreover genetically modified crops have to undergo extensive tests,
monitoring, and traceability before they can be released to the public for consumption
Schwartz 12). This is such a heated topic in France that Monsanto sued France for
refusing to sell their genetically modified crops. Monsanto is the biggest GMO
Company in the world. Even if they made GMO crops legal in Europe most of the
citizens would not even eat them because of the risks they pose to peoples health.
Since they do not have many GM crops, European people are generally healthier and
less obese then Americans (Onusic).
Furthermore GMO crops and farms are also bad for organic farmers because
they contaminate their farms and crops. Organic Farmers face huge economic loss
because of contaminated crops. For example a whole truckload of produce can get
rejected because it was contaminated by GMO pollen. This means that they just have
to throw it out and will probably lose upwards of five grand. This causes organic
farmers to go into an economic crisis. In addition, organic farmers and non-GMO
farmers have to spend even more money on preventive measures so their crops do not

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get contaminated by GMO pollen. About one third of organic and non-GMO farmers
said they have had to deal with contaminated crops. Additionally 60 percent of organic
farmers said they were concerned that their crops would get contaminated and they
would have to deal with the consequences. GMO farmers are not doing anything to
prevent their pollen from spreading. They are not leaving the required buffer zone so
that the pollen does not reach the organic farms (Survey: Organic Farmers Pay the
Price for GMO Contamination).
All in all, GMOs have changed how food is grown, packaged, and distributed, but
is a new way of changing crops to fit the needs of todays society, which has made
people concerned about the safety of the food they are eating. What exactly GMOs are,
the health risks that come with them, and other general information on them all
contribute to ones knowledge about eating healthier food. A lot of people want to eat
healthy and live healthy lives. Now they can as long as they know what they are eating.

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Works Cited
Bessin, Rick. Bt Corn: What It Is And How It Works. Entomology At The University
Of Kentucky. University of Kentucky, Nov. 1999. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.
Food and Water Watch. In the United States, Genetically Modified Crops Harm
Farmerse by Contaminating Crops. Food and Water Watch (2012): Rpt. in
Genetically Modified Food. Ed. Nol Merino. Cichago. Green Haven Press, 2014.
75-80. Print.
GMO Timeline History of Genetically Modified Foods. GMO Awareness. Word Press,
n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2016. <>.
Group, Edward. What is the Bt Toxin. Global Healing Center. Global Healing Center,
22 July. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2016. <>.
Lapidus, Jennifer. Genetically Modified Food Should Be Labeled. Cloning and GMO
Foods: Jennifer Lapidus Gives Us the Early 2007 Update on the Science of Our
Dinner Plate Vol. 8 (March 2007): pp. 18. Rpt. in Genetically Modified Food. Ed.
Jennifer L. Skancke. London. Green Haven Press, 2009. 31-36. Print.
Mercola, Joseph. Decade Long Feeding Study Reveals Significant Health Hazards of
Genetically Engineered Foods. Dr. Joseph Mercola, 7 Aug. 2012.
Web. 20 Feb. 2016.

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Nacci, Giuseppe. Genetically Modified Food Can Cause Disease. The Threat of
Genetically Modified Organisms (part I) vol. 21 (May-June 2006): pp. 5-8. Rpt. in
Genetically Modified Food. Ed. Jennifer L. Skancke. London. Green Haven
Press, 2009. 24-30. Print.
Onusic, Sylvia. The Current Status of GMOs in Europe. Farm to Consumer Legal
Defense Fund. Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, 19 Sep. 2012. Web.
21 Feb. 2016. <>.
Powell, Chelsea. How to make a GMO. Science in the news. Word Press, n.d. Web.
20 Feb. 2016. <>.
Recent Trends in GE Adoption. United States Department of Agriculture Economic
Research Science. USDA, 9 July. 2015. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.
Sarich, Christina. Study Links GMOs TO Over 22 Different Diseases. Natural Society.
Natural Society, 6 Dec. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.
Schwartz, Mark I. Genetically Modified Food is Safe. National Post (February 13,
2008): pp. 15. Rpt. in Genetically Modified Food. Ed. Jennifer L. Skancke.
London. Green Haven Press, 2009. 11-16. Print.
Smith, Jeffrey M. Genetically Modified Food Is Not Safe. Genetically Engineered
Foods May Cause Rising Food Allergies Vol. 29 (November 2007): pp. 41-42.

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Rpt. in Genetically Modified Food. Ed. Jennifer L. Skancke. London. Green

Haven Press, 2009. 17-23. Print.
Survey: Organic Farmers Pay the Price for GMO Contamination. food and water
watch. Food and Water Watch, 3 Mar. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. <>.