Genetically Modified Foods
Do you know what is contained in your favorite meal or how it is produced? Technology today has taken over all industries in the world and human beings have become too dependent on it to an extent that they cannot live without it. We have become more and more reliant on technology for the simplest of tasks such that lack of technology would make performing the basic household chores impossible for some people. One of the facets of technology that people have over-relied on in recent years is the genetically modified organisms, both crops, and animals. Modern technology of genetic engineering has made it possible to introduce genetic material from one animal or plant to another animal or plant resulting in a reproduction of the desired trait in this other plant or animal. The new plant/animal with the desired traits is what is referred to as a genetically modified organism (GMO). Genetically Modified Foods should not be regulated (Phillips 2).
Technology advancement has helped in the development of crops that have a faster maturity rate (Phillips 3). This then means that farmers are able to have 4 seasons in a year as opposed to just two seasons with the traditional crops. Traditionally, crops were dependent on specific seasons and place to mature. Genetically modified crops do not have to follow the natural farming cycle since they are modified to reach maturity quicker. The advantage that comes with this is the use of less fertilizer for the farmers in pursuit of higher yields.
Genetically modified foods help reduce world hunger. In a world where food scarcity has become a norm, genetically modified organisms will help increase the crop yield to enable countries to feed their growing populations. As a result, the crop yields grow and countries are able to produce enough food for their growing populations. CRISPR-Cas9 is a form of technology that helps plants to adapt to new environments by turning their traits genetically using genes from plants that would naturally thrive in that type of environment (Parrett). The result of this is that human beings can then plant crops in areas they would otherwise not have grown such as the dry areas and have a good yield, and ensuring food security. Genetically modified crops use limited spaces for huge yields hence the natural habitats are maintained. This is especially beneficial to develop countries whereby agricultural output has the biggest impact as most of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods (Gilbert).
Genetically Modified crops are pest-resistant. Many farmers lose a lot of money every year from pests and other insects that invade their crops. This leads to food shortage and even starvation in some third world countries. Farmers are forced to use a variety of pesticides to ensure that their crops are not destroyed by pests. On the other hand, consumers do not wish to take foodstuffs that have been grown using many pesticides due to the potential health hazards that some of them carry. Growing crops that are pest resistant eliminates the need to use these pesticides and fertilizers that can potentially affect consumers' health.
Some genetically modified crops have additional nutritional value. Genetically modified crops are designed with improved nutrition in them which is meant to improve the health of the consumers. An example of genetically modified food meant to increase its nutritional value is the golden rice. Golden rice was developed to contain a little bit more of vitamin A. Many children suffer from lack of Vitamin A around the world and this rice was introduced to curb this problem. Potatoes have also been genetically modified to reduce the amount of acrylamide that they are likely to produce when deep fried (Monsanto).
Genetically Modified crops are resistant to diseases and have a tolerance to cold environments. Scientists have created plants that are able to resist many fungi, viruses, and bacteria that bring diseases to plants and animals. They have also created an antifreeze gene gotten from some type of cold-water fish and introduced it to plants such as potatoes which make them tolerant to cold weather conditions that would have traditionally killed them. Genetically Modified specialists are also working on creating food pharmaceuticals. With the increase in the cost of medicine and other related products, specialists are coming up with ways whereby medicinal vaccines can be introduced in crops so that human beings can consume them through their daily meals. This will help in saving storage space and ultimately bring down the cost of production for these medicines (Monsanto).
Those against this modern technology of food production argue that it causes health problems to consumers. However, there have not been any reported cases of people who have died or contracted a particular disease after consuming genetically modified foods. Furthermore, our supermarket shelves are full of these products and I could bet that most people have consumed these foods one or more either knowingly or unknowingly once in their lifetime and their health was not compromised thereafter. There has been a claim that these crops affect the environment due to the way that they are planted. In contrast, these crops actually have a less effect on the environment compared to the traditional plants since they do not rely on various pesticides to have good yields (Klumper & Qaim).
Additionally, opponents of this technology also site possible greed for profits by the manufacturers of these seedlings as a ground as to why this technology should be limited. Every business person is after profits. Even the conventional farmers and companies that produce the traditional foods that we consume are after making profits. Giving this as a negative effect does not make much sense, either, does it make sense convincing the masses on the need to have this technology regulated? Besides, genetically modified foods are cheaper than the traditional foods. Even though genetically modified seeds are more expensive than the traditional foods, the cost becomes insignificant compared to the money spent buying pest controls and fertilizers for the traditional foods. (Klumper & Qaim).
Furthermore, genetically modified crops that are herbicide-resistant cause less environment damage as compared to other conventional crops. The introduction of crops that are tolerant to herbicides saves farmers a lot of money that could have been used to buy different types of herbicides for different crops. This also means that the farmer will only use one form of herbicide and not the different types that would otherwise have harmed the environment. Studies by Phipps and Park have further shown that adoption of herbicide resistant crops such as soybeans has led to the adoption of one herbicide, glyphosate, which has replaced other herbicides that were not favorable to the environment (Phipps & Park, 4). They further noted that farmers who planted transgenic plants ended up using less diesel fuel due to the reduced number of operations in the farm. This resulted in reduced greenhouse emissions (Phipps & Park, 5). Monsanto company have gone a step further to create a genetically modified soybean strain that cannot be affected by one of their herbicide product, roundup. A person who grows this type of soybean will then need only 1 type of herbicide reducing potential run-offs that could damage the environment. As much as people want regulations to be considered for this technology, it is important that they compare the numerous environmental benefits that result from the use of this technology to the risks that occur from conventional agricultural practices. Crops that are tolerant to herbicides have a benefit to the environment in that there is reduced tilling of the farm which ensures that the farm is not interfered with.
Genetically engineered foods can be made tastier. The food that we consume can be modified to have a better taste that it naturally has. For example, corn can be made to have a sweeter taste while more spices can be added to our regular pepper to make it spicier. Genetically modified foods also have longer shelf life while still maintaining their freshness and flavor, unlike other traditional foods. People do not mind a little taste of their traditional foods and this is evidenced by the way people add spices to their food while preparing it (Gilbert).
Genetically modified crops have numerous benefits both for human beings and the environment. There has been very limited evidence as to the dangers of consuming genetically modified foods. In addition, it is very hard to predict the future ecological impact of this technology, therefore; our inability to provide these impacts while being able to predict the benefits means that this is an essential technology that everyone should embrace and appreciate going forward. The reports that show the dangers of genetically modified foods are very insignificant hence they do not warrant any anxiety over this kind of technology. The world's population keeps growing every day. The demand for food keeps rising as the population grows and farming space becomes more and more limited. This means that sooner or later, the world will be moving towards mass production of these crops that are resistant to drought and mature fast. Recent trends have further suggested that genetically modified crops have reduced a number of agrichemicals on plants (Gilbert, 25).
I not only believe in genetically modified foods and their health safety but also in their ability solve world food crisis that will ultimately ensure survival for humanity in future. This type of technology should be allowed to expand safely without any limitations. So far there has been no mass death over consumption of genetically modified crops which means that they are safe. Additionally, there is a growing need to increase the nutritional value of foods consumed by human beings which mean that this technology cannot be done away with. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding genetically modified crops with very limited arguments as to the uncertain dangers of this technology. More and more countries continue to adopt this technology and furthermore, the decision on whether or not to consume these foods lies entirely on the consumer whose ultimate goal is to have a plate of food on his table every day. Governments should not dictate to consumers what they should consume rather give them the right to decide for
Phillips,''Theresa.''Genetically modified organisms (GMOs): Transgenic crops and recombinant DNA technology.''Nature Education.''2008.
Kl''mper, Wilhelm & Qaim, Matin. (2014). 'A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops.' Plos.org, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111629. Accessed 22 March 2017.
Gilbert, Natasha. 'Case Studies: A hard look at GM crops.' Nature, http://www.nature.com/news/case-studies-a-hard-look-at-gm-crops-1.12907. Accessed 22 March 2017.
Do Genetically Modified Foods Tend to be More Nutritious than Non-GMO Foods? Monsanto, 2013, http://www.monsantohawaii.com/do-genetically-modified-foods-tend-to-be-more-nutritious-than-non-gmo-foods/. Accessed 22 March 2017.
Phipps, Richard. & Park, Julian. 'Environmental Benefits of Genetically Modified Crops: Global and European Perspectives on Their Ability to Reduce Pesticide Use.' Journal of Animal and Feed Science, Vol.11, 2002, pp. 1-8. http://www.ask-force.org/web/Benefits/Phipps-Park-Benefits-2002.pdf Accessed 22 March. 2017.
Parrett, Tom. GMO Scientists could Save the World from Hunger if we let them. News week, 21 May 2015. http://europe.newsweek.com/gmo-scientists-could-save-world-hunger-if-we-let-them-327585?rm=eu. Accessed 22 March. 2017.
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