Americans Don't Know What DNA Is?

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My fellow Americans, I hope you're sitting down, because what I'm about to tell you is heavy and may alter the way you view the world forever. Are you ready? Seriously, SIT DOWN. 

OK, here it goes: Your food probably contains DNA. 

Gosh, are you doing alright? You look a little pale. Here, take a sip of some orange juice to get your blood sugar up. OH GOD, THERE'S DNA IN THIS OJ! 

Now, hopefully you knew that you've been consuming DNA since birth, but if you didn't, don't feel too bad "” neither did over 80 percent of Americans. Over 1,000 people surveyed "”chosen to represent the popular through a number of factors explained here "” by the Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics agreed that there should be "mandatory labels on foods containing DNA." 


I wish so badly that this were a joke, Oklahoma State Department of Agricultural Economics

Let's take a step back and talk about what DNA actually is (in case you somehow forgot the most basic science lesson taught in elementary, middle, and high school). According to the National Institutes of Health

"DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms. Nearly every cell in a person's body has the same DNA. Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus (where it is called nuclear DNA), but a small amount of DNA can also be found in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA)."

Yes, that means you ALL are just brimming with DNA, and if you didn't eat DNA, you wouldn't be alive. 

"In fact, your body needs to consume DNA," Daily Kos wrote. "When we repair our own DNA sequence, or when our cells are preparing to divide, we need the building blocks of consumed DNA to be used for DNA replication and repair." 

While the Daily Kos provided the above logic, they also argued that it's rational for people to not know the basics of politics or science since the majority of people don't think about or use either on a daily basis. I can understand their logic (for example, I don't think about quantum mechanics on a daily basis) but, come on. DNA is fundamental to human, animal, and plant life. To not know this is embarrassing. 

But, wait! Maybe not all faith in humanity is lost. 

The same survey reveals that 82 percent of the U.S. population believes genetically modified organisms (GMOs) should be labeled. OK, yeah, I can get behind the idea that people should know when their food has been genetically altered. Over 80 percent of people also said that they support "a requirement that school lunches must contain two servings of fruits and vegetables" and "mandatory country of origin labels for meat." 

Sadly, these views were not strong enough to redeem people from their lack of knowledge and sheer indifference. 


Screw animal welfare "” it's not like animals have DNA! Oklahoma State Department of Agricultural Economics

Only 39 percent of people would support a tax on sugary sodas, and only about 56 percent of people would support a ban on trans fats "” and that's not even the worst of it. People indicated they valued the appearance of their food more than the naturalness, the origin, the environmental factors, and the fairness of labor. 

We are more concerned with mandatory DNA labels on our food than we are with the naturalness of it. We don't want to pay a tax to drink soda, but we don't mind being taxed in order for labels saying "This tomato has DNA" to be placed on food all across the country. We are more concerned about GMOs than we are with trans fats. Surely in order to have such strong beliefs, people must be researching what they're eating, right? 

Well, no, not at all. The survey asked people if they had read a book on food and agriculture in the past year. Only 16 percent of people said they had, but only a small number of them said they could remember which book they read. According to Oklahoma state economist Jayson Lusk, "Fast Food Nation, Food Inc., and Omnivore's Dilemma were mentioned about three times," "The Farmer's Almanac and Skinny B*tch were mentioned twice," and "one respondent mentioned the Bible." THE BIBLE. 

Look, I'm not bashing the Bible, but it's not exactly the best reference for your nutritional and dietary needs "” unless you're looking for advice on which apples NOT to eat. You don't have to read Fast Food Nation to know that there are healthier options out there than deep-fried butter, and you don't have to read Skinny B*tch to have a healthy relationship with food. But, you do have to at least make an effort. 

For me, that effort is taking the time to read articles about food and agriculture, check nutrition labels, and asking questions about my diet and health. Sure, it takes a few minutes out of my day, but man, I feel like learning about what I'm ingesting is the least I can do for my body. 

It seems like everyone wants to have an opinion on nutrition, but we're not even the slightest bit educated about the topic. Seriously, how the hell do we expect to be taken seriously if we don't even understand what DNA is? 

Get it together, America. If not for yourselves, do it for the poor children who deserve a shot at a better life. 
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