Does our society need genetic engineering in order to make the food system more sustainable?
My position: No.
GMO’s have been around for a while now, but they see to be popping up more and catching a lot of people’s attention. The scary thing is that consumers are not aware that they are consuming GMO’s because they are not labeled correctly. GMO’s can be found everywhere now because the seeds have can be spread all over, this is an example of crosspollination. GMO’s can be found in plants and animals, when plants and animals have been genetically altered that’s when the problems start to occur. GMO’s can cause threatening health problems and also problems to the environment (Smith,2017).
Genetically modified foods have been around for years, but most people in the United States have no idea if they are eating them because they are not labeled. We should have the right to know what is in our food, just like we have calorie and cholesterol counts. There is absolutely no reason to keep hiding the foods that have been genetically modified. There are about 65 countries where food labels are required (White, A), but why isn’t the United states doing this? The Government and the GMO industry say that crops such as corn, soy, sugar beets and canola oil are environmentally safe and that there’s no nutritional difference between GMOs and conventional crops (White, A). According to them we don’t need to know, so no labeling is required. GMO supporters do not want consumers to know the truth about GM food. They want consumers to believe that there is nothing wrong with them, but in reality, they are horrible for you. There are studies done with mice that prove that foods that contain GMOs cause health issues. Studies claimed mice that were fed genetically engineered corn developed cancerous tumors. Mice that were fed Roundup Ready soy had problems with the pancreas. Mice that were fed GM tomatoes got bleeding stomachs, several died. Mice that were fed Roundup Ready canola had heavier livers (Smith, J.). GMOs foods are terrible for us, we have no idea that we are consuming these ingredients because the FDA and government doesn’t care about our health they just care about the profit (Key, S). We deserve to know the food that we consume contains GMOs or GM ingredients and whether we want to harm our bodies with them.
When plants are changed in other words when they become “Superweeds” that is where the environmental problems occur. “Superweeds ‘ or in other words, herbicide-resistant weeds or GMO herbicide-resistant crops are nuisance plants that have developed resistance to one or more herbicides (Conner, A. J.). They have been a serious problem for decades because the seeds have genes that have been spliced into their DNA so that the plant can express any trait that is not naturally found in it. An example of a “Superweed” is plants that are resistant to roundup also called “Roundup ready”. These superweeds are now spreading all across the nation. Superweeds are growing stronger and more prolifically than their original form. Because of their mass and strength, superweeds break farm equipment and ruin entire crops.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is designed to be toxic to the environment. Farmers have relied upon glyphosate-based herbicides to kill unwanted vegetation for more than four decades. Glyphosate is toxic and has been linked to numerous health problems in humans and in the environment.(Jalonick, M. C)The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that it was “probably carcinogenic,”. With an estimated 6.1 billion kilograms applied worldwide over the last decade, understanding its risk to farmworkers, consumers, and the environment is outstanding.(Jalonick, M. C) Many of us are concerned about the impacts of cross-species genetic engineering and how they are affecting our health and environment.
Genetically modified foods is the only way to feed that growing population, by increasing yields to get more food from less land. GMOs mean cheaper, more plentiful food to fight hunger in the Third World.(Entine, J.) Biotechnology can also be used to make foods more nutritious to help countries that suffer from malnutrition. The Golden Rice Project seeks to bring vitamin-A enriched rice to market to help prevent nearly 500,000 cases of childhood blindness and 2 million deaths caused by vitamin-A deficiency in third world countries each year. (Potrykus, Ingo). GMOs can help us will help us but not in the right way.
Rebuttal to the counter-Argument
We always hear about countries who are struggling with world hunger, but genetically modified foods are not the way to fight hunger. We know that GMOs are a risk to our health and environment. With GMO foods we can grow food faster at a shorter time but not in a healthy way. Golden Rice may seem like a realistic solution for ending world hunger, but there are multiple resources for malnutrition planned and currently in place, that are cheaper and do not require GMOs, that should make golden rice unnecessary. (McLean, Margaret R). In addition, golden rice may specifically target the deficiency of vitamin A but it could not address the countless additional social, economic, and cultural factors that contribute to vitamin A deficiencies.
The seeds that have been genetically modified can also travel well beyond fields where they are grown into “Superweeds” that is when our crops and wild plants are threatened. Tampering with crops’ genetic makeup impacts down the food chain: scientists say GMOs have killed off butterfly populations in the United States, or led to birth defects among other animals.(McLean, Margaret R. ) By the time we find out the long-term impact, it could be too late. That’s why GMOs is not the answer to ending world hunger, it can actually be the ending to humanity.
Knowing that GM crops are harming the environment and our bodies genetically modified ingredients should be completely banned. The least that GM supporters, FDA and the government can do is label their products. It is scary not knowing whether your food has been modified we have the right to know. Our society does not need genetic engineering in order to make the food system more sustainable. Even though studies were done on animals and not humans, is enough for us to be aware and concern of all the health-related issues that can come from genetic engineering foods.
- (n.d.). Retrieved from https://responsibletechnology.org/gmo-education/65-health-risks-of-gm-foods
- Conner, A. J., Glare, T. R., & Nap, J. (2003, January 08). The release of genetically modified crops into the environment. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1046/j.0960-7412.2002.001607.
- Entine, J. (2014, September 18). The Debate About GMO Safety Is Over, Thanks To A New Trillion-Meal Study. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/09/17/the-debate-about-gmo-safety-is-over-thanks-to-a-new-trillion-meal-study/#7e90024ca937
- Jalonick, M. C. (2014, May 17). Debate over genetically modified foods continues amid confusion. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/national-debate-genetically-modified-foods-continues
- Key, S., Ma, J. K., & Drake, P. M. (2008, June 01). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2408621/
- McLean, Margaret R. “An Introduction to the Ethical Issues in Genetically Modified Foods” Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Lecture.
- Potrykus, Ingo. “Golden Rice and Beyond” Plant Physiol, 125(3): 1157-1161. March 2001.
- Smith, J. (2017, January 16). 10 Reasons to Avoid GMOs. Retrieved from https://responsibletechnology.org/10-reasons-to-avoid-gmos/
- White, A. (2018, May 15). GMO Foods Should be Labeled. Retrieved from https://www.downtoearth.org/label-gmos/gmo-foods-should-be-labeled