By Nina Cusmano
Three letters have stirred up a lot of controversy. Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, have changed the way consumers view their food. GMOs have been a hot topic recently online and in the media, including Cosmo last month.
Janice Person has worked for Monsanto, a sustainable agriculture company that is most-widely known for its development of GMOs, in the engagement department for about ten years.
“I encourage people to go look for the other side of the story before you really decide if you’re for or against something,” she says. “A lot of people have only heard one side about GMOs.”
GMOs are organisms that have had genetic material altered through genetic engineering. Companies like Monsanto specialize in providing GMO seeds for farmers so they have crops that are genetically engineered, for example, to resist pests or drought.
College-age people commonly show more interest and passion about food and where it comes from than other age groups, Person says.
About 48 percent of Americans aged 18 to 36 identified genetic modification as a very or somewhat important factor when buying food or drinks, according to a survey by Harris Interactive in 2014.
George Laibl is a junior studying horticultural science who feels that GMOs are beneficial to life in the 21st century.
“I first became interested in learning more about GMOs about two years ago when I began to see non-GMO food labels around the grocery store and had heard a little fuss about them on social media,” Laibl says.
When he began to do some research of his own, he says he found that GMOs aren’t very new and are important in our daily lives.
The most common arguments against GMOs are that the science is new and it is unnatural. There are numerous advocates for diets eliminating GMOs leading to allergy or Luz Madera, 20, first began researching GMOs after learning her mentor’s family eating a GMO, dairy and gluten-free diet. She then watched a recommended documentary on Netflix called OMG GMO, which inspired her to research further.
“When I take a look at the other side of the coin, it just doesn’t seem worth it or logical or natural,” she says.
Madera, a junior studying psychology, says when she and her family decided to remove GMOs, dairy and gluten from their diets, they noticed significant weight loss,increase in energy, better hair, nails and skin, and overall they were in a better mood.
“I would recommend everyone to do the same in order to not only take care of the earth but to be able to live a healthier lifestyle,” she says.
Persons says, researchers have been working on GMOs since the ‘80s and have been widely available to farmers since 1996.
“People don’t understand how deeply they’ve been tested,” says Persons, “People don’t understand the impact on communities and farmers, the business of agriculture.”
The lack of knowledge about GMOs worries many and is likely due to the fact that there are very few specialists to inform people on the subject.
“Experts on this, agriculturalists, are less than 2% of our population,” Person says. “How do you find more information if you don’t know someone with access to it?”
She encourages people to seek out the information and learn both sides of the GMO debate before taking a stance. She also says, its OK to be neutral.