ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROVERSY 7
Inthe modern world, there are several controversies. The use ofgenetically modified organism (GMO) in food production andagricultural activities has attracted a lot of controversies. Themain causes of these disputes are related to the safety ofgenetically modified organism in food production. Through thebiotechnology GMOs have been found to have potential benefits to theworld populations. For several years, farmers have utilized themethod of cross-breeding and selection to keep enhancing their crops’quality. Some people prefer the conventional breeding process asopposed to the genetically modified crops. Naturally, animals andplants selectively breed as a means of making sure that there is anoptimum gene pool for the generations of the future. The traditionalbreeding process is tedious because while attempting to acquire adesirable bred species trait, some unwanted features tend to appearrequiring the breeders to restart such process all over again untilthey eliminate the undesirable traits (Norwood et al. 2015). However,the conventional breeding methods are often slow and in need ofextensive labor. Conversely, through biotechnology, organisms canobtain one gene or particular genes together using geneticmodification in a single generation without exhibiting otherundesirable characteristics. Despite the benefits of geneticallymodified food crops such as economic gains and production ofherbicide resistant crops, there is a potential of such organismcausing fatal results such as diseases, GM-mix ups, and environmentaldamage among others because of inadequate and incomplete testingmethods.
Thedisputes that have led to these controversies involve biotechnologycompanies, researchers, scientists and scholars, farmers, governmentagencies and regulators, nongovernmental organizations and advocategroups. However, controversy arises based on these crops safety tothe world populations. Proponents of the genetically modifiedorganism support the technology because of its massive benefits suchas the production of better quality food, production of herbicideresistant crops and massive economic advantages. However, opponentsare against this technology because it results in environmentaldamage, the risk of the food web, diseases, GM-mix ups, andcross-pollinations.
Proponentsof GM crops argue that farmers are poised to acquire massive benefitsfrom the growing of genetically modified crops (Norwood et al. 2015).They argue that although the initial cost of GM crops is expensive,the money is recovered through the savings made on pesticides. In theproduction of GM crops, current biotechnology is necessary involvingexpensive, sophisticated equipment and highly skilled expertise. Thus, this results in the larger agricultural companies investingheavily in equipment, laboratories, and human resources. It is alsobecause of these massive investments that GM crops tend to be moreexpensive when compared to the traditional crops hence offeringfarmers more profits. Thus, despite the early expense farmers arebound to reap massive benefits because GM crops tend to be of thedesired quality without unwanted genes and often grow in a shorterperiod (Buiatti, Christou & Pastore, 2013). The proponents’view the GM crops as the solution to world hunger because theproduction of these foods in larger production would help to curb thefamine and nutrition issue in society (Buiatti, Christou &Pastore, 2013).
Additionally,GM crops are beneficial to farmers because they can be generated tobe herbicide resistant. Therefore, this entails that farmers caneasily spray these plants and get rid of weeds without affectingtheir crops. On top of that, the amount of herbicide used on thesecrops is significantly reduced resulting in decreased costs forfarmers and consumers. For instance, for the Ingard cotton, thecotton was made pest resistant, which led to the crop eradicating theutilization of pesticides in its growth. Thus, this is beneficial tofarmers because they do not have to purchase the expensive pesticidesand also help to sustain the environment that is safe from harmfulpesticides (Ceccarelli, 2014).
Safetyis the primary concern for the opponents of GM crops. The opponentsbelieve that the GM crops have a potential danger to the human healthand environment. The opponents assert that presently the effects ofthese crops on the environment and health of people in the long-termare unknown. The dissenters concur that since the genetic structureof any living organisms tends to be complicated it is worrying not toknow the effects of GM crops would have in future. Currently, thetests of GM crops tend to concentrate on the short term effects. Theyexplain that since not all effects of the introduced foreign geneinto a given genetic structure plant are tested the gene might becomemore dangerous. For instance, the opponents worry that pests, which acrop was modified to resist, might ultimately result in becomingresistant to that crop. The opponents also argue that it might becomeimpossible to destroy GM crops once they spread extensively in theenvironment. For example, in Europe, a sugar beet strain wasgenetically modified to become resistant to a given herbicide.However, the herbicide acquired the genes to resist another, and itwas problematic to eradicate the crop in nations such as France andBritain among others.
Moreover,opponents are against GM crops because the pesticides introduced ingiven crops can unintentionally result in the harm of creatures(Norwood et al. 2015). In Britain, the Skylark farm bird was affectedindirectly following the introduction of GM sugar beets that wasmodified to resist herbicides. Although the weeds reducedsignificantly following them planting of the crop, the Skylark birds’population started decreasing because they relied heavily on theweeds seeds for survival during autumn and winter. Moreover, the GMcrops can be dangerous to the animals or creatures that consume them.The built-in pesticide can easily poison the animals hence resultingto health conditions and problems (Weasel, 2009).
Furthermore,opponents resist this technology because it is likely to causediseases. Some crops are usually modified using genes from bacteriaand viruses. Thus, this might result in the emergence of newillnesses in society (Halford, 2011). Additionally, the marker genes,which scientists use to determine the success of genetic modificationin crops, might be transferred into the microorganisms that causediseases. Thus, this can be problematic because it would be difficultto create novel drugs for such emerging diseases. GM mix-ups wherebypeople may consume meals more food products meant for animals mightresult in health problems (Key, Ma & Drake, 2008).
Althoughproponents of GM crops have identified in pest and diseaseresistance, herbicide tolerance and economic value as befits of thesecrops, I believe that they should not be adopted in mass numbers. Ifeel that additional research needs to be undertaken that areconclusive to ensure that GM crops do not risk human health or theuniverse ecosystems. I support the notion that living organisms arehighly complicated and meddling with their genes or gene structurecan contain adverse and sometimes unintended effects. Thus, while Irecognize the benefits, which the biotechnology of geneticmodification has in food production and food security in the world, Ithink the issues raised by concerned opponents needs to be addressedfirst. For instance, the Friends of Earth Organization is among theagencies that are raising concerns about GM crops and foods. Theseconcerned organization advocates for assuming of liability by biotechcompanies for harm done, autonomous testing for environmental andsafety effects, and compulsory labeling of GM foods and crops amongothers. Thus, I believe that this needs to be taken intoconsideration, to ensure the safety of GM crops and foods I theuniverse.
Buiatti,M.,Christou, P. & Pastore, G. (2013). The application of GMOs inagriculture and in food production for a better nutrition: twodifferent scientific points of view, GenesNutr.8(3): 255-270.
Ceccarelli,S. (2014). GM Crops, Organic Agriculture and Breeding forSustainability, Sustainability,6(7), 4273-4286 doi:10.3390/su6074273.
Halford,N. G. (2011). GeneticallyModified Crops.World Scientific, ISBN 1908977647.
Key,S., Ma, J. K, & Drake, P. M. (2008). "Genetically modifiedplants and human health". Journalof the Royal Society of Medicine101 (6): 290-8. doi:10.1258/jrsm.2008.070372
Norwood,F. B., Oltenacu, P. A., Calvo Lorenzo, M. S., & Lancaster, S.(2015). Agriculturaland food controversies: what everyone needs to know? NewYork, NY: Oxford University Press.
Weasel,L. H. (2009). Foodfray: inside the controversy over genetically modified food.New York, NY: Amacom-American Management Association.