Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have their genetic content altered by use genetic engineering production methods. Organisms whose genetic content has been altered range from plants and animals. It is from the GMOS that genetically modified foods are manufactured by genetic modification. Considering the constantly rising population and the need to satisfy their food needs, are genetically modified foods the only left solution? Do the positive outcomes out do the negative? Are genetically modified foods more harmful or helpful? With the demand in food constantly rising, genetically modified foods are more helpful for food security, although their production and consumption has negative effects to the environment and human health.
Scientists and economists have a positive motive when they campaign and advocate for genetically engineered foods. To begin with, the global population is on the increase. There is a massive third world hunger and the World Health Organization estimates that the in every 2 seconds, a child dies due to starvation. In addition, under and mal-nourishment are still lingering concerns in the world. This technology promises to offer solution to most of these concerns. These plants are able to survive harsh conditions (Lang & Hallman, 2005). For instance, they are pest resistant; tolerate herbicide, high levels of disease resistance, cold and drought resistant. In addition, they have nutritious benefits and the technology that has been used in some extent to develop edible vaccines that can be obtained from potatoes and tomatoes. Consequently, there is sufficient food and food security in the world is ensured.
A mention of genetically engineered foods results to a massive debate. In most cases the debates are misleading and have inadequate information on the issue. The genetically modified foods are developed through thorough scientific methods including tests on the effects. With the demand in food constantly rising, genetically modified foods are more helpful although there is need to control their production and consumption for the sake of the environment and human health.
While these foods have massive benefits, there is a lingering controversy. Farmers, biotechnology companies, governmental regulators, consumers, scientists and non-government organizations at times engage in conflicts over the safety of the food to these foods. With genetically engineered foods, there are two kinds of risks that exist. The first is environmental hazards. In this, there have been reports of unintended harm some organisms. An example is the death of butterfly caterpillars due to pollen from B.t Corn. This report was included in almost every news article in attempts by activists to convince the world that there was absolutely no hope in genetically engineered foods. Reports also have it that there are chances of genes being transferred to non-target species. Further still, there are chances that the effectiveness of pesticides is bound to reduce (Harris, 2004).
Arguments on genetically engineered foods have claimed that food derived through genetically modification pose a much greater risk than conventional food. However, it is rather surprising to observe that there are actually no reports that have presented on the ill effects due to consumption of this food products. This leaves it clear therefore that the food is safe just as the other food only that this requires a well-organized regulatory structure. It is therefore essential that populations should not be allowed to stay with little or absolutely no information regarding genetically engineered foods. When the citizens are not educated on the topic, they will grab and believe the entire news they get on the media and perceive it as the entire truth. Activists and anti-GMO individuals will be opportunistic enough to communicate to individuals that genetically engineered foods have been the main cause of the increased cases of cancer. They might lack the evidence to support it but the innocent mind will most probably request for no evidence for they are exposed to minimal knowledge on the issue.
The bottom line is, the populations should be educated on the true benefits and the real hazards out there that will without a doubt develop due to the production and consumption of genetically engineered foods. It is the responsibility of the individuals to seek information about the topic and why the debate is so hot. The government, non-governmental organizations, farmers, biotechnologists and the entire stake holders in genetically engineered food have a mandate to feed the human race with the correct, truthful and up-to-date information on the topic. Let the population know that there are possible risks to the environment, remember to add that the technology is still viable and still gives hope of a hunger free tomorrow even with the increasing population.
For instance, back in February 2013, there was a tsunami of massive stories that were spreading under the Monsanto Protection Act. Basically, it contained a minute provision contained in a large agricultural spending bill. When President Obama signed this in to law, writers were up with their pen spreading the word that this was actually the most dangerous food act ever in the United States and was also termed as being a terrible piece of policy. Some progressed further to claim that the president had signed it in a dark night. It was shocking enough to later understand that the provision had actually been drafted a year ago and had been circulating for nine months in Washington. In essence therefore, no one, let alone the hyper-vigilant campaigners against GMO were caught unaware. This is an example of the serious propagandas that will mislead people’s reasoning and judgments on genetically engineered foods.
Another instance is in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the writer makes it appear as if the scientists did little research before developing genetically engineered foods. Nutrition science to be precise gets a bad rap. What the writer successfully accomplishes is that he uses his ability to transform agricultural practices and policies to what is rather moral philosophy (Pollan, 2006). He spends little time to consider the hours that scientists spend in the laboratory to benefit human safety. When one refers to social media over the same topic, many hold the view that genetically modified foods are being banned from some countries for they can cause cancer amongst other chronic diseases. These facts are misleading and entirely wrong. They are perceptions people have while they spend little time to refer to scientific evidence. In essence, it is notable that they cite documents where they have read about when they talk about. It is notable that they are selective in paying emphasis on the possible negative effects of the genetically modified foods while pay little attention to benefits.
It is with unreasonable doubt that the public perception regarding the genetically modified foods and the scientific side of view seems to be distant. There is need to establish a baseline to make this differing views to table their views to demonstrate that genetically modified foods are more helpful in the end.
The government, farmers, scientists and economists should step up and shape what the people think. There should be a structure that responds to the articles in the media that seem to report that genetically engineered foods are strategically produced to cause harm to human life. Let the scientists bombard the media as well with facts that demonstrate the practical and tests that they have conducted in their endeavor to ensure that the production and consumption of genetically modified foods can be an effective and long term answer to the world’s demand of food. While there is still the need to let the people understand that genetically engineered foods are not as dangerous as most people claim, there is need to minimize or probably eliminate the possible human health and environmental hazards.
Fedoroff, N. V., & Brown, N. M. (2004). Mendel in the kitchen: a scientist's view of genetically modified foods. Washington, D.C.: Joseph Henry Press
Harris, N. (2004). Genetically engineered organisms. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press.
Pollan, M. (2006). The omnivore's dilemma: a natural history of four meals. New York: Penguin Press.