Why do people think that gmo's are bad? What are the benefits? About how many foods are modified that are sold in grocery stores?
Unfortunately Katelyn, there are no short answers to your questions. But they are among the most important questions of our time. Thank you for asking them.
My answers apply only in the USA (unless I specify otherwise), as most other nations ban, label or properly regulate GMO (genetically modified organisms). I also have addressed only crops, though genetic modifications and cloning are happening to animals that are used as food also.
Your first question - Why do people think GMOs are bad?
GMOs ARE bad, as you will be able to read and understand below.
Specific answers to your question -
Companies refuse to label them (why hide them in our food if they are safe and nutritious?)
No safety testing or regulation is required for most GMO (FDA only has VOLUNTARY consultations on gene altered food crops. The USDA and EPA regulate GMO to protect farmland and the environment, but the USDA and the EPA DO NOT ensure the food is safe to eat for farm animals or p[eople).
Insecticides grow inside some GMO that can't be washed off or cooked out. TWO or more insecticides are now required to be inserted into GMO crops, as resistance to BT insecticide has grown.
Most GMO food is contaminated with herbicide which has never been in or on our food before.
DOW company's Enlist corn is resistant to THREE different herbicides. Multiple herbicide resistance is needed as many different types of herbicide resistant weeds and crops have become a growing and widespread problem nationwide. To take advantage of these traits DOW's corn must be sprayed and contaminated with three chemical herbicides, none of which have been safety tested to ensure they are safe for us to eat. To force mothers to feed these contaminated crops to their children, without the ability to choose (through simple labeling) is a criminal act and is child abuse through lack of regulation and safety testing.
GMOs cost more in direct costs to farmers and indirect costs through massive environmental contamination (much more than conventional agriculture), health consequences, and GMOs are contaminating conventional and organic farms (increasing costs through prevention/segregation measures or devaluing the crop through contamination by wind insects or birds carrying contaminating GMO pollen).
NO LONG TERM SAFETY TESTING IS REQUIRED
NO INDEPENDENT SAFETY TESTING IS REQUIRED
If the foods were proved to be safe, then people would have less concern about them. but the foods are not proved safe and some are known to have injured or killed lab animals during trials because individuals have leaked the information (See Arpad Pusztai's web page - http://www.psrast.org/pusztai.htm
Your second question - What are the benefits?
Most GMO crops are altered in one of two ways, insect resistance (so bugs that normally feed on a crop die from eating it, allowing farmers to use less chemical insecticide spraying) or herbicide resistance (where a crop is immune to a herbicide which is then sprayed on the crop regularly to control weeds and increase yield).
Insect resistance - Genes are added causing plants to grow BT insecticide, which grows in every part of the plant, including what we eat. Bugs became resistant to it so the US government requires AT LEAST TWO insecticides growing in crops. But we already know insects are going to develop resistance to these also.
Farmers have always had to spray chemical insecticides on GMO pest resistant plants because only some types of insects die when they eat the corn, canola, soy etc etc. So the benefit is minimal or ends up costing the farmer more money through the seed costs, technology fees paid for every acre he plants, crop loss when he realizes insects are resistant and/or extra chemical spraying.
Herbicide resistance - Crops are made impervious to certain herbicides. Monsanto makes the herbicide Round-Up. They also create a variety of food crops that are genetically "engineered" (actually RANDOMLY altered with unknown and unknowable changes) so that Round-Up won't kill them. Farmers then liberally apply herbicide to their crops, killing weeds and increasing yield.
This used to work, but now weeds (and some crops that have now become weed-like pests) are resistant to Round-up and many other herbicides that have been abused in this manner.
Monsanto doesn't care about the damage they are doing to our health and the environment because the people running Monsanto are interested only in making and keeping "their" money. Their official statements show they feel they have no responsibility for their patented products' safety. Public statements executives have made claim the FDA must ensure GMO are safe to eat. But the FDA doesn't regulate GMO, stating that GMO are "substantially equivalent" to conventional and organic food crops.
The USDA and EPA feel that GMO crops are so different that both agencies regulate them to protect farmland and the environment. But neither agency makes sure they are safe to eat.
Neither of these types of genetic modifications produce food that is proved safe to eat, because the FDA claims they are the same as conventional or organic food crops (yet they are so different they can be patented).
Many types of food crops created in this manner, but not released, have caused severe life threatening and life ending changes in lab animals in short term trials. No long term trials or multi-generational trials have ever been conducted by biotech organizations and/or have been published.
All long-term or multi-generational independent trials using genetically modified crops released for people to eat have shown mild to severe chronic problems or deaths caused by the modified foods
Biotech representatives used to claim that "Golden Rice" was an example of nutritionally beneficial changes that could be made to food. But adding vitamin A gene to rice has failed to produce a nutritional benefit and increases the cost of rice, as well as all other GMO foods to date. Raising the cost of food will create MORE starvation and nutritional problems.
Rather than try to hijack the entire world's food supply, getting technology fees for every acre of food planted all over the world, we should devote our efforts to using the knowledge we have gained for increasing conventional farm yields to organic sustainable production of food all over the world.
Genetic "engineering" of our food supply is being done to enrich corporate CEOs and board members by trying to patent all food grown in America, increasing the cost of food and causing more starvation worldwide. Biotech representatives claim genetic modification is needed to feed a growing world population, but that is a lie told by liars.
Unfortunately we cannot trust our own FDA commisioners or the leaders that select the heads of regulatory agencies. President Obama, for instance, has appointed long-time Monsanto emplyeee and lawyer Michael Taylor to the #2 position at the FDA. Our leadership in the Democratic party pretend they are on the side of science by supporting UNLABELED GMO foods, but what they have done is to take bribes in the form of jobs (for themselves or releatives) or campaign contributions to allow FDA-unregulated genetically altered food crops onto the dinner plates of America's children.
Also, known corporate lackeys, like Monsanto's lawyer Michael Taylor during the 1990's, go through the revolving door of jobs between industry and regulatory agencies.
They craft the legislation that keeps GMOs unlabeled and unregulated by the FDA.
Michael Taylor has been working for Monsanto since the 1990s and is currently the FDA's food czar, appointed by President Obama in 2009 (and approved without a fuss by republicans). He has held several different positions in the FDA and USDA during that time, always returning to Monsanto when his work as a government official or advisor is done.
Your third question - About how many foods are modified that are sold in grocery stores?
No one knows. No labeling is required in the USA, no public-tracking of these foods occurs, and GMO are NOT regulated by the FDA (despite the APPEARANCE of regulation in the form of voluntary consultations).
Most countries either ban all GMO, require labeling (which, in effect, bans them because most people won't buy GMO) or the countries properly regulate the development and safety testing of all GMO using long-term independent science-based evidence instead of the industry sponsored/conducted/conflicted short term research done in the USA and Canada.
The vast majority of GMO end up as ingredients in processed foods. You can safely assume that anything containing corn, soy or canola has GMO ingredients as most grown in the USA and Canada are genetically "engineered".
Here is a website that admits we don't know but has a good guess as to which whole foods are GMO and which processed foods are likely contaminated by GMO -
I have scanned some of the information on that web page and so far have found all I have read to be accurate.
This answer is not all inclusive, some of it is complicated and I encourage you to ask follow-up questions.
Thanks again, Katelyn, for your interest in and questions about GMO food.