Genetically modified organisms are organisms that are created after combining DNAs of different species to come up with a transgenic organism (McDonagh 8). Debates on GMOs have persisted since the introduction of genetically engineered foods. Although there is great promise about GM foods addressing the global problem of food insecurity, genetically engineered foods come with safety concerns given the transfer of genes across species that occurs during the process of making the foods. Studies have proven that GMOs introduce novel allergens to the natural foods. A perfect example is the case of GM soybeans that almost killed people who were allergic to nut protein in Brazil (Chetty and Viljoen 269). In addition, some GM plants like canola have crossbred with their close “wild” species to create “super weeds” that have proven resistant to herbicides (Rubin 48). It is, therefore, reasonable to state that genetically modified organisms do not benefit agriculture and the growth of food.
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My position against GMOs
Genetic engineering technology in farming has been viewed as a perfect solution to the problem of food shortage in the world. However, the technology presents a lot of threats to the natural way of producing foods. In this regard, GMOs do not benefit agriculture or promote the production of food. Instead, GMOs are a risk to food security given that the technology introduces new genes and organisms that can alter the natural ecosystem. Priesnitz (5) suggests that GMOs have the potential of destroying vulnerable natural plants and animals, thereby causing a major disruption to the environment. Looking at GMOs in the long term, the possibility of using more chemical inputs due to the development of insecticide resistance crops is very high. Moreover, novel and highly toxic pesticides will have to be developed to eliminate the insecticide resistance organisms.
Support for my argument
Release of GMOs into the environment poses the risk of transfer of genes horizontally. There is evidence that horizontal transfer of genes happens in soil bacteria, which may alter soil fertility necessary for natural agricultural processes (Schmidt 527). The risk of introducing genetically modified organisms into the environment to interfere with the natural balance is real. Use of genetically engineered seeds usually comes with an extra cost because the seeds produce plants that show resistance to traditional pesticides and herbicides. There is a possibility of developing “super weeds” that are hard to treat, thus there is use of stronger insecticides and herbicides that end up polluting the environment. A good example is the case of the bentgrass that was found to be herbicide resistant in the US. The weed easily spread into wild populations, thereby interfering with the natural vegetation (Chetty and Viljoen 270).
Summary of my position on the issue
Besides the health risks posed by GMOs, the GM foods are not likely to solve food shortage problems given that the GM seeds usually come as patented products. This implies that farmers in developing countries where food insecurity is more severe may not be able to pay for the seeds or the intellectual property rights thereof every planting season. It is predicted that the GM seed companies will end up suing farmers for keeping seeds for future planning (Schmidt 528). This will be interference with the traditional practice of keeping seeds for planting in the future. Moreover, it will beat the logic of adopting GM foods as a strategy of fighting global food insecurity. In conclusion, GMOs should be discouraged given that substantial tests have not been done to prove the safety of the foods.
Chetty, Lukeshni, and Denis C. Viljoen. “GM Biotechnology: Friend and Foe?” South African Journal of Science, 103.7/8 (2007): 269-270. Print.
McDonagh, Sean. “Genetic Engineering Is Not The Answer.” America 192.15 (2005): 8-10. Print.
Priesnitz, Wendy. “The Problem With GMOs.” Natural Life 141 (2011): 5-7. Print.
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Rubin, Karen Wilk. “Genetic Modification And: Food Biotechnology.” Foodservice Director 16.3 (2003): 48-48. Print.
Schmidt, Charles W. “Genetically Modified Foods Breeding Uncertainty.” Environmental Health Perspectives 113.8 (2005): 526-533. Print.