GMO products, the pro and cons of genetically modified food and the social problem it creates fueled by misunderstanding and fear by the media.
GMO products are organism that has had their genetic makeup changed by using genetic engineering techniques. This means selective breeding of plants or animal is not counted, only organism that had specific identified gene implanted or taken out of the organism to create a certain trait that would be impossible to attain from simple breeding methods. The goal of GMO is to create food that will yield better productivity, resistance to pest, pesticide, and environmental change, and also to increase nutritional value. However many people do not see the benefit of GMO products, GMO is surrounded with the animosity of being harmful for consumption and the environment. These animosities include the creation of terminator seeds, fear of cross breeding with wild plants or other farmer’s produces that are supposed to be GMO free, and the increase use of pesticide along with GMO plants rather than the decrease. The media often present the negative aspect of GMO products, making the word GMO a taboo, and anything associated with it negative.
The greatest invention ever created, arguably is the many methods humans have created to produce food. In this world where the land mass is fix, but the population keeps on continuing to increase, and the amount of farming land decreases for housing. The only reason we are still able to continue to exist is because humans found ways to increase biomass production with the limited land. Yes GMO products are biologically synthesized, yes it is safer to eat fresh food rather than GMO produce, and yes GMO products might cause devastating situation in the future. There are reasons behind why though. The goal of GMO is to increase production, to do so scientist had to find some way to change the genetic makeup of the plants. This would be almost impossible to do from scratch without any outline of how the genes would work, and how it would act. So scientist used other plants found in special environments to understand what makes them capable of living in those different places. Why is GMO production less healthy, well that is because, GMO products stay on the plant a lot less time than fresh produces. Allowing farmers to supply food at a faster rate than normal means more food is produced in the same amount of time. For example it might take 1 year for a fresh tomato to be grown and mature, but it might take 3months for a GMO tomato to do that same thing. This means GMO tomato can feed 4times more people. Finally like all new science there are still unknown factors that human still have not yet been able to understand. Yes GMO companies should take responsibility for what they make, but I feel the problem lies not with the scientist but with the system they are stuck with. To further their research they need to make people invest in their work. The problem with food unlike medicine which is constantly tested with many subjects is that the side effects that might come from GMO are very hard to differentiate. Unlike medicine which has a faster response, to treat GMO food like medicine it might take multiple generations to be able to pinpoint the problem. Even if people are willing to do such an extensive study the numbers they do find positive or negative would almost be meaningless because of the different variability the experiment would have that will lead to incorrect data. To have a data worth mentioning would require thousands of subjects that have their whole life controlled, from the most tiny of detail such as how much they sleep, their genetic difference, the amount of GMO food they are consuming, and the amount of non GMO food they are consuming, this means scientist will have to find exact clones of people that not only have same genetic makeup but also the same everyday lives, to really understand the factor GMO plays in our life. Another point that shows GMO is not that harmful to humans is that everyone in the United States for at least the last twenty years have been eating GMO products at a large amount, vegetarians being the leading consumers; for they do not eat meat which at this point are not being genetically modified at an industrial level. Yet no cases on harmful side effects have been noticed from the millions of people in America eating GMO products daily. Although the media likes to point the fault on allergies increasing because of GMO, no study have shown any proof that allergies are directly link to consuming GMO products.
In the media GMO products are being portrayed as humans changing the genetic makeup of plants, that humans are playing God. After the earthquake incident in Haiti, GMO Company Montana tried to donate seeds to help the rebuilding of Haiti, but because of Montana’s reputation the country rejected the free seeds Montana tried to give them. The Huff Post written by Beverly Bell goes into detail of the weariness Haiti has on GMO products; that any seeds that do come in to their country must be GMO free products. “Fighting hybrid and GMO seeds is critical to save our diversity and our agriculture,” Jean-Baptiste said in an interview in February. “We have the potential to make our lands produce enough to feed the whole population and even to export certain products. The policy we need for this to happen is food sovereignty, where the county has a right to define its own agricultural policies, to grow first for the family and then for local market, to grow healthy food in a way which respects the environment and Mother Earth.” This quote clearly shows how the world views GMO products. GMO from this quote is seen to be just like a drug that countries need to prevent from entering. GMO products are unnecessary, and should not exist in any country, for without GMO nations are still able to feed their people. Lastly GMO is not good for health and it is an abomination to nature.
The Medias interpretation to GMO has led to the idea that “natural thing is good for our body because our body is natural.”(blog by kshagen) This idea I think like all new perception of our world comes from the media, and pop culture. In the past during the colonial era the wild was seen as something not desirable even to an extent of something humans need to get rid of. In this present time, protecting the wild or being able to live in or near wild life is a common thought to think otherwise would seem irregular. Humans now want to be able to escape the busy city life to a place called the “wilderness”. For now the wild is seen as a place of serenity and beauty, where a person can calm down and find their personal identity. The media leads humans to believe that only things from nature is good for you, that they are better than things from a lab made by crazy scientist funded by money blinded businessman. For nature will not harm them, that things from nature are pure and good. This thought is preposterous the wild does not take sides, it will kill you without warning it does not care for the individual it takes care of the species, by eliminating the weakest link within each species. Nature favors the fittest, and disregards the weak; it is humanity that respects the fit and helps the weak. It is GMO that is feeding the poor and organic food favoring the rich. It is GMO products that are trying to give the poor the nutrients they need from eating just their daily staple like rice; without the need to purchase extra supplements that are too costly for many of the poorer people and nations.
GMO can be good for you for example Golden rice, genetically modified specie of rice that contains vitamin A, which is lacking in my Asian’s diet. Rice that contains vitamin A could become a major source of vitamin for the working class in Asia. The problem with implanting this new kind of rice is the fear that this rice could be harmful to the human body. Eating golden rice in theory would be the same as eating normal rice with a side of vitamin A supplement. Still because the rice changes in color to yellow people are skeptical about growing and consuming a cheap and simple method of giving the necessary nutrient to the general public. The media fuels this fear by not talking about GMO products that could feed people the necessary nutrient at the cost of eating their daily staple food such as rice. Instead the media presents us with information of the power GMO will have over the common people. That if everyone used GMO products it would give companies like Montana power over the entire food source, since all of the plants they genetically modified are patterned. The media however fails to show that the crime is the company, and not the technology.
These GMO companies like Montana are not helping their cause by genetically modifying terminator seeds, patterning genetic code of plants, and forcing their products on to farmers. Pop culture sources such as the Daily Show with John Stewart, did a skit on Montana’s legal actions on farmers that are using their product in an illegal method that abuses their patented seeds. In this skit Montana and Genetic engineering technology are seen to be in the hands of morons, who are abusing their authority. Montana threatens farmers that have GMO seeds on their property to either start using their product or face a law suit. Many of these farmers are small organic farms that do not have the time or capability of fighting a law suit with a billion dollar company. So in default, these small farmers are forced into the use of GMO seeds and become lifelong customers of Montana without choice. Their actions are indeed made capable because of the advance of genetic engineering, and no solid law on genetics in the United States or around the world to regulate their actions. However like all new technology there will be people who abuse it, this does not mean we should be afraid of progress but rather as a community we need to create new laws that prevent companies from abusing their power. In away Montana is trying to monopolize their product. Their action is very similar to the major companies during the industrial revolution in America, companies like Standard oil, and Carnegie Steel. Government will need to step in and prevent this new technology from being abuse and not only protect farmer’s right, but also the rights of nature. Similarly to the past people are fearful of new things, like when cars were first invented the idea of driving a bomb made skeptics believe this new invention would not go far, but now almost everyone in the United States owns a car. People are afraid of the new and try to find the problems with new technology this is constantly seen in history even now we are still afraid of the new. Instead of rejecting GMO product we need to control how this new technology can play in our lives, should we allow GMO companies to control what the farmer’s plant, or be able to pattern nature. These are problems politicians need to look at instead of should GMO products be labeled. The media are also fueling this fear by presenting GMO products are harmful to health, that the healthy way to eat is to eat none GMO products and only consume products that are labeled “organic”.
GMO is not bad for you even though it comes from a laboratory, and the plant is genetically different from nature. GMO products only change a single gene, while a plant could have thousands. This difference can have amazing characteristic change in plants but mean little to the digestive system that will just break it all down. This irrational fear of man made products and the immediate appreciation of natural good is a created from the media showing the general population false or bias information regarding GMO products.