Genetically modified organisms (GMOS), an organism who’s DNA has been altered in such a way that it would be more beneficial, has garnered great debate as to whether or not it is harmful or if it will be the crop of the future. Many scientists believe that GMOS have the possibility to end world hunger as well as produce a higher density of crops which would result in less deforestation. This could lead to lower cost for, not only farmers, but the consumers as well. Secondly, the enhancing of certain genes will give the ability to plant crops in third world ountries in which crops are very hard to maintain and keep alive.
With the use of GMO seeds that are hardened for that specific environment, the ability to keep world hunger at a minimum will be much closer. While others people believe that injecting harmful chemicals into an organism to “enhance” it will ultimately be detrimental to human health. They believe that the introduction of genes could possibly gene splice into our genomic makeup that could potentially cause harmful mutations. In this paper, the duality will be highlighted and bring light to both both the pros and cons of genetically modified oods.
In todays world, many people believe that using GMO crops, such as Roundup Ready Crops are the crops of the future. These genetically enhanced crops allow for “reduced crop damage when herbicides are sprayed, easier weed management, and even the potential for environmental benefits” (Chow, 2015). This allowed for famers to spend less time on applying pesticides and herbicides, and spend more time taking care of the crops (Borel, 2014). The idea behind Roundup ready crops are that it would reduce the use of herb and pesticides would be fruitful in that the environment would not be introduced to hese harmful chemicals.
But there was a drawback to Roundup. After a while, the weeds and bugs that Roundup was suppose to keep away, started growing a resistance to glyphosate, which made it less effective. In this case, they had to start re-applying additional herbicides and pesticides (Borel, 2014). While, at first, it seemed as if the GMOS were going to provide a better alternative to growing crops without the use of both herbicides and pesticides, that ended up not being the case. Instead of just relying on Roundup, they had to spray traditional herbicides and pesticides in order to control the eeds and insects.
While Roundup seemed to be benefiting crops for a short period of time, over time, farmers had to revert back to tradition methods of maintaining pests. The idea of scientists tinkering with the genetic make up of an organism doesn’t make the organism sound very safe to consume. This topic has brought much debate between the two opposing sides to see how safe GMOS are to consume. Pro GMO activist believe that “food is viewed as a source of nutrition to meet daily requirements at a minimum in order to survive but with an ever greater focus on the desire to thrive.
In the latter instance, there is an ever-growing interest in the functionality of food. Functional foods have been defined as any modified food or food ingredient that may provide a health benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it contains” (Newell-McGloughlin, 2008). The increased functionality of GMOS could lead to a world with less diseases. While on the other side, others believe that GMOS could lead to cell mutation due to the organism own genetic modification. There are three major aspects that raise debate.
“1. The use of selectable markers to identify transformed cells. 2. Transfer of extraneous DNA into the plant genome (i. e. genes other than those being studied). 3. The possibility of increased mutations in GM plants compared to non-GM counterparts due to tissue culture processes used in their production and the rearrangement of DNA around the insertion site of foreign genes. ” (Key, Ma, Drake, 2008). These three points bring up valid questions of what can the modification of an organism do to humans after they consume it?
When looking at todays crop, one wonders how much of our actual crop yield is made with GMOS. According to Elizabeth Weise of USA today, “in the United States today a huge proportion of the most commonly grown commodity crops are genetically engineered: 95% of the nation’s sugar beets, 94% of the soybeans, 90% of the cotton and 88% of the feed corn, according to the 2011 International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications report” (2012). This shows how the United States is slowly moving more and more towards the usage of genetically engineered crops.
This is due to the fact that scientist are able to enhance different parts of the crop in order to tailor it to specific needs such as ideal climate, the mount of water it needs to consume, or the amount of crop one seed makes. GMOS allow scientist to tinker with the DNA of a specific organism so that the crop can be made more effectively. Not only that, but when looking at the genetically modified seeds, the alterations made to its genomic sequence could garner better crop yields. This could produce a healthier crop as well as reduce the amount of crop failure.
This could also lead to better nutritional value of food. By engineering such foods, scientist are able to enhance the amount of vitamins and minerals that are inside of the crop itself. This could yield the first batch of super foods that can help fight many different ailments (Mandel, 2015). The uses of GMOS are boundless as scientist can change certain seeds make up to become drought tolerant as well as producing a higher yield per seed, allowing for less water usage and more crops to be formed. This would reduce the amount of space needed for agriculture as well as less natural resources being used to crow crop.
This could potentially allow for the reduction of the amount of people that are dying of starvation. Others believe that in order to fight unger, one does not need to increase food production, but get rid of poverty and reorganize their government. One scientist said that there was 1. 5X the amount of food needed to sustain the worlds population. Eric Holt believes that by the year 2050, there will be enough food to feed 10 billion people, but it still will not be enough to fight hunger (Holt, 2015).
But when looking at some of the negatives, there could be a potential disruption in the ecosystem due to the GMO introduction as it can kill insects that could be a food source for a different animal, ultimately changing an ecosystem forever Wolfenbarger, Phifer, 2000; Eye of Nye- Genetically modified Foods). Laurel Carroll believes that this could happen to the Monarch Butterflies with the incorporation of GMOS (Carroll, 2015 ) Also, food allergies in children under the age of 18 have spiked from 3. 4 percent in 1997-99 to 5. percent in 2009-11, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (Mendel, 2015).
The scariest of all, regarding GMOS, is that of gene migrations. “Through ‘gene escape,’ they can pass on to other members of the same species and perhaps other species. Genes introduced in GMOS are no exception, and interactions might ccur at gene, cell, plant, and ecosystem level” (Mendel, 2015). This could potentially provide to be a health hazard, even though they are regulated by the FDA, that does not mean that it could not happen.
All in all, when looking at genetically modified organisms, there is no set answer if they are pose a threat or if they are beneficial to the world. The integration of genetically modified foods allows scientist to tinker with the genomic code of the organism to provide a better alternative that can grow fast, use less raw resources, and produce in more abundance compared to the raditional seed. Even though there are some drawbacks to genetically modified organisms, there is a bright future head of it as it is still young in its researching period.
While many believe that it is not the conventional way that people should raise their crops or that scientist should not play God by messing with something’s genetic code, the overall outcome could be ultimately be beneficial. While the incorporation of GMOS could potentially help with world hunger, due to the fact that it can grow readily in hot and dry climates, the technology is not ompletely developed. Once this technology is completely bulletproof, there are going to be people that are against the use of GMOS.
While the technology of GMOS is very controversial, there are many benefits that can come of this product. While there are many negatives, the pros far outweigh the cons and with that said, the farther advancements are made in GMO products, the more ideal this planet will be to live in as it has the capability to help millions of people who are dying of starvation as well as providing the tools to reduce deforestation, keeping our planet healthy.