Campus News

Willful Ignorance

On Friday, Nov. 9, Professor Sorrentino spoke on the topic of Willful Ignorance: GMO’s, Monsanto, and you.

To give some background information, Professor Sorrentino worked in genetic research since 1995. For almost 15 years he worked on how blood cells become tumorous. The topic he spoke about was very close to him.GMO stands for “genetically modified organism”. This refers to an organism that has had its genetic information transferred to another organism through a process known as recombinant DNA procedure.

“People manipulate things” said Sorrentino.

In Kenya people would fertilize crops that were cultivated.An example of this is genetically modified corn. Individuals took the best corn that came out of every harvest and replanted only those seeds. This in turn produced better corn and not the useless corn that other harvests had produced.

A quote from Charles Darwin said, “The good effects of crossing, or the evil effects of self-fertilization.” This saying states that if organisms, such as corn, can be crossed with only the good genetic traits, then the result is always good. But if farmers continued to let corn self-fertilize and to plant all the seeds they produce, then there will still be some bad outcomes.

Mendel, a scientist who demonstrated inheritance, believed that people were able to use a mathematic outcome to predict the result of a cross. He proved his theory with pea plants by using punnet squares to determine the chance that a plant would receive certain traits. Scientists have found out over the years that Mendelion inheritance applies to almost all living things.

Not all GMO’s are harmful. Some can help us. For example, in 1978, scientists produced insulin identical to that of a human. In the past, people had been using insulin from the pancreas of cows and pigs, but it was not an identical match to human insulin; therefore, it had no effect. So the scientists took the human insulin gene, Escherichia Coli, and planted it inside of bacteria to modify it. This, in turn, produced more human insulin.

However, the most prevalent question that Professor Sorrentino asked was: How can GMO’s hurt us?

Take for instance the Monsanto company that works on genetic research. This company marketed genetically modified plants for agricultural use, such as corn that was resistant to herbicide or produced insecticide. The problem is that this genetically modified corn can cause an increased likelihood for tumor formation. Scientist did a study with rats where genetically modified corn was constantly in their diets. It turned out that all the rats that had this corn diet for a long period of time produced tumors. The results showed that pesticides with corn can be a big problem.

Now the question remains whether or not students will still go out to eat genetically modified foods even though there is a risk of being ill? This could be why so many people in the world will only eat organic foods.

This is something students could possibly look into if they eat GMO foods.

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