World hunger is an issue of increasing importance with today’s growing population. One question that has weighed heavily on the minds of agriculturalists, scientists, and public officials is how to feed all of these people. Many people starve to death every day all over the world. Some regions, like many in Africa, experience starvation as an everyday part of life. In an effort to remedy this issue, scientists began producing GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. Otherwise known, as super crops, GMOs were engineered specifically to help with the world’s hunger crisis. While there are many alleged benefits to GMOs, ethical dilemmas such as the impact they would have on surrounding ecosystems as well as the health of humans began to immerge.
Initially GMOs sounded like a dream come true. They were engineered to grow in the harshest of climates, meaning that crops could be planted during any season, in any region of the world, once their formula was perfected. The GMOs were also engineered to be resistant to all forms of pestilence, meaning bugs were no longer able to kill the crops. As long as the soil was adequate, the crops would literally grow no matter what the circumstances were. This meant big things for feeding the world’s hungry mouths. Growing crops in inaccessible areas of the world would mean cutting down on shipping costs as well as feeding hungry people sooner. It appeared that some of the world’s hunger crisis was being solved until studies were released stating that the plants may be a hazard to the environment. Anthony J. Connor, Travis R. Glare, and Jan Nap wrote an article called “The Release of Genetically Modified Crops into the Environment”, published in The Plant Journal, wherein they revealed that that GMOs could potentially take down entire surrounding ecosystems (2003). Through a process of transgene crossbreeding, the GMOs would breed with surrounding weeds and plant life, in turn creating mutated versions of GMOs that would also be able to grow in harsh environments and be resistant to pestilence. Unfortunately, the resistance to pestilence also makes the GMOs resistance to herbicides. This is good for crops but bad for mutated weeds on a mission to choke an ecosystem from the ground up. Connor’s projections showed that the crossbreeds could damage the ecosystems so badly, they would be left beyond repair (2003).
The GMOs mutations are dangerous for the environment but what is even more ethically unsettling is what studies have shown GMOs can do to the human body. In “Potential Adverse Health Effects of Genetically Modified Crops”, written by Anita Bakshi and published in Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health reports hypothesize that the GMOs may begin forming new bacterial strains and viruses. Once ingested by humans they could have a wide array of adverse effects on them (2003). The reports estimate that the impact of these mutated viruses could be anything from common flu-like symptoms to more serious symptoms that mimic food poisoning. More frightening still is that the mutated strains would not respond to any existing antibiotics, meaning that the sufferers would be left without medical treatment. The resistance to antibiotics is assumed to be a carryover from the GMOs defense against herbicides. The report went on to postulate that the mutated viruses would continue changing, becoming different, stronger viruses. Eventually they may turn into diseases (2003).
In conclusion, the genetically modified crops seem like a good idea, they are not ethically sound. Using GMOs would mean the possible collapse of entire ecosystems. GMOs are also projected to slowly ruin our health, meaning they could possibly make us unhealthier instead of giving us the nourishment and nutrition we need. While the starving people of the world need to be fed, a more ethical solution that does not endanger so many aspects of life needs to be found.
Bakshi, A. (2003). Potential Adverse Health Effects of Genetically Modified Crops. Journal of Toxicology and Enviornmental Healthy, 211-226.
Connor, A. J., Glare, T. R., & Nap, J. (2003). The Release of Genetically Modified Crops into the Environment. The Plant Journal, 19-46.