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The exponential advancement in technology has had a significant impact on many industries, including the medical and electronic fields. Because of the advent of genetically modified plants, also known as genetically engineered crops, the agriculture industry has not been left out. According to Page (2012), GM foods are crops that have been genetically modified to produce more, taste better, or last longer. Genetically modified foods are a highly contentious topic that has sparked heated controversy, and various academics hold opposing views on the subject. At one end of the continuum, some academics contend that because of the risky side effects of GM drugs, they should not be promoted. At the other end of the spectrum is a section of scholars who are of a different opinion and base their arguments on the fact that genetically modified crops help to boost yields and are therefore given a negative connotation unfairly.
Genetically modified foods help to boost food production to cater for the increasing demands of food products. According to Page (2012), “approximately one billion people go hungry because they cannot buy or grow enough food.” Also, Page adds that there are problems with the food that people eat because research has shown that about 2 billion people globally suffer from iron deficiency. Therefore if GM products are bad why has the existing food products not rich in iron? Moreover, commercial farming of crops if facing threats from some of the deadliest crop diseases. For instance, coffee rust is affecting plants in South and Central America while fungal bright is destroying bananas all over the world (Calpan, 2013). Estimates suggest that these crop diseases destroy more than 120 million tons of food products globally. Further, Caplan affirms that the effects of these crop diseases are disastrous in developing nations. It is for these reasons that GM foods should be encouraged in developing countries to boost food production. Importantly, without GM foods, there would be no sufficient food to feed the world’s growing population.
Compared to normal plants, GM crops are more durable and can be modified to survive in harsh climatic conditions. The DNA of genetically engineered crops can be altered to make them grow in conditions that they would not be able to grow in (Mather, 2012). For instance, the DNA of some crops are manipulated to include the genetic material of a natural bacteria found in the soil known as Bacillus thuringiensis. This alteration of the DNA makes the plant to produce toxins that kill insects which could affect it (Mather, 2012). This technology has been used for a long time especially in cotton plantations in China to kill bollworms. Consequently, the use of this technology has reduced the use of pesticides. Furthermore, Caplan (2013), asserts that genetically engineering of crops is the only path towards environmentally friendly agriculture and continuous supply of cheaper and nutritious foods. He adds that altering of genes in the medical world to prevent diseases has to be deployed in the same way in the agricultural sector. Generally, people fear new things and ideas, and this is the reason why so many people are against genetically modified foods. However, in reality, the benefits of GM foods outweigh its potential risks.
Genetically modified foods pose health and environmental risks. Also, some people see biotechnology as being profit driven. The few studies that have been conducted on GM foods have not adequately proved genetically modified foods to be 100 percent safe. According to Mather (2012), some researchers have concerns about the use of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) on human health. For instance, Professor Emeritus Joe argues that Bacillus thuringiensis could damage the ileum. (Mather, 2013). Moreover, most biotechnology firms across the world have histories of toxic contamination. However, these arguments against GM foods are flawed because, in reality, no food can be 100 percent safe. Similarly, why are governments encouraging the consumption of GM foods if they are not safe and possess health risks? The answer to this question is that some GM product could help to prevent diseases such as high blood pressure and cancer (Page, 2012). Additionally, biotech companies are seen as being profit driven and do not care about the farmers at all. According to Grover (2011), the main aim of these industries is to make profits rather than make agriculture more productive. For instance, some of the companies sell to farmers in Africa sterile seeds that are only good for a single season. These arguments are refutable because pesticide and fertilizer companies are not ready to lose business. Therefore, they can say anything about biotech companies to make them look bad.
In a nutshell, the benefits of genetically modified foods outweigh its potential risks, and GM foods are given a negative connotation unfairly. Consumers are made to believe that GM foods pose health risks, but they have not been made to see the good sides of genetically modified foods. Although the negative sided of GM foods exist, genetically engineered crops can be used to stop the use of pesticides and to boost food production in order to solve the food challenges in the world.
Caplan, A. L. (2013). Genetically Modified Food: GOOD, BAD, UGLY. Chronicle of Higher Education. pp. B4-B5.
Grover, L. M. (2011). Genetically engineered crops: Biotechnology, biosafety, and benefits. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science.
Mather, R. (2012). The Threats from Genetically Modified Foods. Mother Earth News, (251), 42-51.
Page, M. L. (2012). Wrong-headed victory. New Scientist, 216(2891), 28-29.
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