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Have you ever taken into consideration that the food you’re consuming might potentially become extinct in decades to come? Imagine taking a bite of a perfectly, large, juicy, red apple and thinking of all the chemicals it took for scientists to produce the most appealing apple to you. As a consumer of food, it might be knowledgeable to understand the difference between a genetically modified and traditional bred food. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term genetically modified as, “(of an organism or crop) containing genetic material that has been artificially altered so as to produce a desired characteristic.” Due to the drastic changes in the rise of population sizes and shift of climate conditions, scientists are trying to find “replacement” species that will fill the gaps of the diminishing food species. Food pathologists have already found ways to inject crops with specific nutritional values and provided them to third world countries, to improve their health and nourishment. Today, the utilization of genetically engineering foods are becoming normalized in our society, however the consequences of altering agricultural techniques and the effects on the environment are going unnoticed. Using genetic engineering to enhance world nutrition is not worth the environmental expense because the long term effects are unknown and may cause an array of consequences.A major aspect circulating around the precaution of consuming genetically modified foods is the safety behind it. Scientists have yet to prove how safe it actually is to consume a food that has been artificially modified. Even specific countries have taken stances against the modern agricultural technique and have provided safeguards for their citizens. In Dan Koeppel’s article, “Can This Fruit Be Saved?”, he mentions a strong dislike towards DNA-altered foods present in Europe, “…where most such fruits and vegetables are banned” (Food Justice, page 12). Not only are countries like Europe taking stances against the uprising of genetic engineering, but the resistance to those types of food among people especially have been solidified in the world’s consuming public. The reason for this may be because of the continued use of pesticides. The author adds a statement from Alistair Smith, a coordinator from a British activist organization, mentioning that the usage of pesticides would have, “a huge negative human and environmental impact…such as long-term ill health effects in workers” (Food Justice, page 13). Koeppel digs deeper into his argument against genetically altered foods and states, “82 percent of U.K. shoppers said that they would never buy a genetically altered banana, even if proven to be safe, even if doing so allowed the elimination of pesticides and other potentially harmful agricultural chemicals…” (Food Justice, page 12). In other words, despite the rise of genetic engineering in our foods, consumers are still skeptical towards the safety of it and the consequences ahead.Similar to the concern of the safety relating to genetic modification, cross-pollination among traditional and genetically modified seeds could endanger the environment. In the article, “Ricekeepers”, author Winona LaDuke emphasizes the possibility of wild rice being contaminated by the domesticated species. The author raises concerns that such traditional breeding processes like Nor-Cal Wild Rice, which produces hybrid variations could have a negative connotation with liveliness of wild lake rice. Incidents like the two events that occured in 2006 assure the worry of cross-contamination. In one of the events, U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. ruled in favor of the farmers and environmentalists stating, “…that field tests had the potential to be harmful to other crops, and instructing the USDA to cease approval for field tests of genetically engineered crops until it can give more scrutiny to applications.” (Food Justice, page 21).  In another occurrence, a German company was guilty of contaminating a U.S. white rice crop by a genetically modified substance that wasn’t even meant for human consumption. In reference to the precautions of safety above, the exposure to the cross-contamination of the artificially modified crop prompted a decrease in popularity of the U.S. white rice. “European and Asian markets began strictly limiting their importation of all U.S. long-grain white rice. Japan banned the white rice crop outright. The European Union demanded that expensive genetic tests to be conducted to guarantee no presence of genetically engineered organisms” (Food Justice, page 22). Due to these contamination events, cross-pollination raises questions if similar occurrences will continue to impact the environment.  Despite genetic engineering’s advantage of being resistant to diseases, it also creates an issue of resistance to antibiotics. To add onto the fears of artificial modification in foods, consumers and scientists worry that, “the cost of spraying grows higher as more chemicals are needed to battle increasingly virulent diseases…there will come a point at which that is neither environmentally nor economically sustainable…” (Can This Fruit Be Saved, Food Justice, page 13). Researchers like Juan Fernando Aguilar in Koeppel’s article believe that by altering a food to produce the “perfect” produce, it’s actually lacking the genetic diversity, which is important to the species’ health. Ultimately stating that as scientists inject produce with chemicals to protect against future epidemics, the food will eventually reject antibiotics which will become a major issue in the future. The last speculation around the usage of genetic engineering in food is the commercialization involved and impacts it has on the respect towards nature. Activists such as Vandana Shiva are very verbally adamant about such practices and calls it a form of “theft” from the people and environment. In the introduction of her book, Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply, Shiva states, “…this growth is based on robbing the forests of its biodiversity and its capacity to conserve soil and water…based on robbing forest communities of their sources of food, fodder, fuel, fiber, medicine, and security from floods and droughts” (Food Justice, page 54). Winona LaDuke also adds her perspective on this issue, as her native tribe, Ojibwe had their spiritual and aesthetic identity of wild rice liberated from them by the state and the University of Minnesota. A lawsuit followed involving the environmental impact made by the state after domesticating the Ojibwe’s wild rice and mis-advertising it to consumers. Controversies such as the one mentioned, also have involved certain states commercially taking advantage of the locals and their sacred resources such as, “a recent dispute over taro, a sacred food of Native Hawaiians” or “the pueblos of New Mexico joined with Hispanic communities in a historic declaration of seed sovereignty…” (Ricekeepers, Food Justice, page 23). Anyways, the utilization of genetic engineering has caused a multitude of problems involving the environment.On the other hand, some people say that the use of genetic engineering to enhance world nutrition is worth the environmental expense. This point of view makes sense because crops have evolved over time throughout history and by providing cheap, easily accessed resources to poorer countries that are malnourished, will help improve the world’s health. As a consumer, I also see the viewpoint that taste and appearance are critical in consumption. In her TED talk on YouTube, Pamela Ronald discusses her goal of nourishing a growing population without destroying the environment. However, by altering genetic modifications in food through chemicals, the impacts will eventually be shown in the food chain and environment. Researchers such as Aguilar from Koeppel’s article have also found other ways to find a replacement to diminishing foods that would be equivalent to, however it just wouldn’t be genetically the exact same. Therefore, the use of genetic engineering to provide nourishment and find an alternative food isn’t necessary because there are other options that won’t cause as many negative consequences to the environment. Although genetic engineering produces the ideal product and provides nutrients to less developed countries, the positives of the modern agricultural technique does not outweigh the expense, beauty ,and conservation of the environment. Our world is interconnected and we as humans need to realize that how we collaborate with nature has an effect and can create a multitude of repercussions in the future. I’m all for finding alternatives to foods that have the possibility to disappear, however it shouldn’t mean that our wants and needs as consumers should be met and that our actions are causing the environment to suffer. By being informed on the foods you are consuming and how the agricultural process affects the environment will better us and nature in the long run.

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