Prof. William Matter
October 15, 2018
The Contention Over Genetically Modified Foods
Genetically modified food is one of the most important issues around the world. GM foods are foods the genetic materials have been altered to improve productivity and quality. GM foods benefit humanity in various ways: they are resistant to disease, they help prevent suffering from famine, produce greater yields, and improve the nutrition of foods. Having foods is very important to human life to maintain good health and to survive. While it is difficult and almost impossible to stop the spread of GM foods because of its various enumerated advantages, we can at least sensitize every one of its harmful effects to our health in order to prevent it. Genetically modified crops lead to serious destruction of the environment and have even contaminated organic crops. The major companies that work closely with GMOs tend to monopolize market-foods. To prevent the proliferation of GM foods, it should be labeled, and people should be well informed of its side effects.
Supporters of genetic engineering argue that the application of biotechnology to improve the nutritional contents of various foods will help people who suffer many deficiency diseases. Also, they claim that GM foods can yield medical benefit by injecting a gene or vaccine. However, GM foods are only a temporary measure, not the fundamental solution for nutritional improvement of foods and medical benefits. Their own disadvantages far outweigh their own advantages. A study by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAME) advised precaution because GM foods have not been tested for human consumption and because there is significant evidence of probable harm (AAME, 2009). The harmful effects that have been pointed out are: the GMOs can cause food allergy reactions, indirect and non-traceable effects on cancer rate, and unknown effects on human health and malfunction of immune system. Another research published in “New Scientist” at Purdue University showed that releasing a genetically modified fish to the wild could damage native population even to the point of extinction (Chris, 2000). Therefore, it is evident that GM foods are harmful to our health.
Genetically modified crops have destroyed our environment and organic farming industry by contaminating organic foods. Advocates of GMO assert that modified crops are resistant to harmful insects and herbicides. However, the resistant genes injected into the crops could easily spread to the ecological system. Consequently, the change has resulted in being caught in a vicious circle due to the birth of super weeds and super insects by spreading genes to them. Also, the emergence of a mutation by biotechnology has altered the ecology and gives rise to destruction and natural restoration. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates pesticides. They said that GMO crops often have posed serious risks to the ecology. Restoration ecology plays an important role in organic farming. GM crops have a disastrous effect on organic farming, especially considering the most important parts of organic crops like keeping its cleanness and lack of pollution. However, seeds of GM plants are carried by wind and contaminate the natural plants. According to a research study conducted in Hokkaido, Japan, setting up buffer zones between GMO farming and organic farming cannot prevent GMO cross-contamination. GMO pollution caused by pollen drift is spreading in GM crops cultivation areas such as the USA and Canada. GMO contamination will occur once GM crops are cultivated. Therefore, the co-existence between GMO farming and conventional farming or organic farming is very difficult (Keisuke, 2008).
GM foods are being forced on the whole world by biotechnology multi-nationals seeking monopolies for their products. After Green Revolution, many countries reorganized their own farming industry to increase productivity. It is true that agricultural output has risen, but agriculture is subjugated to multi-national’s rule forever. By having a lot of output, consumers and farmers get a profit, but companies such as Monsanto, Novartis and Aventis gain a lot of profits. Their rules of food have been far more serious. In Monsanto case, the company developed herbicide Round up, Roundup Ready Soybeans which only work on Round up and have made unreasonable profits by them. So, when farmers buy their products, they should buy both. Moreover, Roundup Ready Soybeans use two to five times more herbicides than non-GM plants. This way, multi-naturals have encroached on the whole world food markets. When all food in the world becomes GM foods or their products, we could not imagine what will happen to humans from a point of view of the food problem. People who advocate GM foods and some people affirm that it is an obvious fact to be guaranteed to solve the food problem because of improvement productivity. However, the fact is not true. There is no relationship between the prevalence of hunger in a given country and its population (Lappe, 1998). The real reasons of hunger and famine are poverty, unequal division and limited foods in developing countries. The food problem is not about how yields increase, it is related to the fair distribution of food.
Finally, to prevent GM foods, it should be labeled, and people should know how dangerous GM food is for us. Sharp and accurate awareness are required for people to recognize GM foods dangerousness to health, GM crops damage to the natural environment, and a hidden agenda in multi nationals. In Western Europe and Japan, diffusion of GM foods has been less than two per cent because the public avoids the foods. However, in USA, GMO rate is in serious condition. Most of major crops came from GMO, it is more than fifty percent. Also, All GM foods must be labeled for protection against potential risks of eating the foods. Labeling is consistent with the right to know for consumers. And it is the best way to give consumers a choice to buy GM foods. When people know the disadvantages, they will not buy the foods. This strategy will prevent monopoly of major companies and proliferation of GM foods.
Letourneau, Burrows. “Genetically Engineered Organisms: Assessing Environmental and Human Health Effect”. CRC Press, 2002. Print.
McHughen, Alan. Pandora’s Picnic Basket- The Potential Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods. Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.
Nottingham, Stephen. Eat Your Genes: How Genetically Modified Food is Entering Our Diet. New York: Zed Books, 1998. Print.
United States Food and Drug Administration. Genetically Engineered Foods. 1999. Web. Retrieved 13 Jan 2011 from