Humans have been experimenting with ways to grow more food, grow food that is disease-resistant, food that is tastier/leaner/"better" in some way for centuries. Even "basic" concepts like plant and animal breeding have been occurring long before our time. What is happening now, however, is so far beyond what is healthy, natural, or sustainable for plants and animals, for the Earth itself, or for humans. Read on:
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA, either through the insertion or deletion of genes. It began with agriculture in the early 1990s with a tomato that was modified to ripen without softening, by Calgene, later a subsidiary of Monsanto.
Monsanto is the organization that is at the forefront of producing GMOs. Their biggest explanation in modified foods is to make them more disease-resistant, such as with Hawaiian papaya, of which 80% is GMO in the U.S. The other explanation is to make the crop more resistant to pesticides and herbicides that Monsanto itself produces. These are called Round-Up Ready products.
Currently, the four most GMOs in the United States are soy, canola, cotton, and corn, with soy, cotton, and canola at a rate of 93% production in the U.S.
So, you might ask yourself, what's the big deal? Isn't there a food scarcity issue in the world? Isn't it helpful to have found ways to produce more food? Critics would argue that the problem with food scarcity in the world is not too-little production but problems with distribution and food policy. Therefore, genetically modifying foods would have no real impact on the real issue.
The concern with GMOs is, first of all, safety. There is so little research, long-term research, into modifying food in this way, that essentially we are left to a major corporation to deem these products as safe, even though they are the ones profiting handsomely from their sale! Seems fishy, if you ask me. Why consume a "food" you know so little about in terms of safety? Is that a risk you're willing to take with yourself, with your family?
The second main issue is that, in contrast to the European Union, there is no mandatory labeling of GMOs in this country. Imagine walking into a restaurant and being handed a meal that you aren't sure of its contents and not being allowed to ask questions. You'd be furious! There are ingredient labels and nutrition facts on the side of every product you can buy today... but not GMO labeling. Why not, if there's nothing to hide?
Another main concern is that of cross-pollination. It is impossible to 100% separate GM crops from non-GMOs, either those being grown in the field or during production. Think your non-GMO is actually free of GMOs? Don't be so sure.
There's also the ethical issue here. It might start with the "lowly" soybean or corn plant, but where does it end? There have been talks about GM salmon. If that is ever approved, truly where will it stop? Pigs? Chickens? Cows? There comes a time when you have to ask yourself if this is just going too far, if there isn't a better solution.
The main issue, for me, comes down to truth-in-labeling. I understand the need to creatively address food scarcity concerns in this world. I don't, however, appreciate my right to know taken away from me. We all deserve to know what's in our food! It's our basic life source. Demand your rights.