Humber on GMOs

With the concern over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) at an all-time high following the government’s approval of the first biologically engineered food last month, many students are wary of what some are calling “frankenfoods”.

“I don’t think I would ever feel comfortable putting something like that in my body,” said Cassandra Wedren, a second-year police foundations student at Humber.

“It’s like it’s bad enough all the processed stuff we eat as it is without people messing around with it.”

A small study of 32 students at the North Campus showed that plenty of participants are still skeptical about the ramifications of GMOs: 56 per cent of students said they would never knowingly eat a scientifically engineered food, 28 per cent said they weren’t sure, and just 15 per cent felt the foods were safe for consumption.

Last month the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved biotech company AquaBounty’s “AquAdvantage Salmon”, a sterile Atlantic salmon grows to commercial size in half the time of its natural counterpart.

Though CEO Ron Stotish called the product a “game-changer”, potential consumers are still skeptical.

“If it’s so safe, why has it taken so long to get it approved then?” asked first-year early childhood education student Melissa Strauss, who said she’s a big supporter of the organic health movement.

“There’s definitely something were not being told.”

Other students are surprised by the backlash, however.

John Irwin, a first-year business student at Humber’s Lakeshore campus said he stands by the FDA’s sanction.

“I’m a vegetarian, first off,” he laughed. “So any chance of limiting animal suffering is good with me.”

Irwin also said he trusts the science behind the decision.

“They don’t pay those people to do nothing,” he said, referring to the teams of scientists overseeing the project.

“It couldn’t be any more dangerous than what we eat nowadays anyway.”

Irwin isn’t the first to note the relative risks associated with any processed food – on this Sunday’s episode of CBC’s The 180 with Jim Brown, science journalist Emily Anthes made a similar comparison.

“Nothing is 100 per cent safe, nothing is 100 per cent guaranteed,” said Anthes. “And that’s true whether we’re talking about a genetically modified fish or food or a conventional fish or food.”

For GMO proponents, it seems that trust will continue to be hard-earned.

Students at Humber are skeptical of genetically modified products. (David Wilson)

Engineers compare AquAdvantage Salmon (above) to natural Atlantic Salmon (below). (Permaculturenews.org)

Ron Stotish, CEO of AquaBounty. (Washington Times)