Biotechnology has had a lot success in the world over, but with an equal measure of opposition that has continued to derail its full blown application in the food production. The application of biotechnology has found its way in the genetic modification to attain high productivity by organisms as well as resistance to diseases and pests that would have otherwise derailed its potential harvest from the farm. Genetic modification is called genetic engineering where a gene from one plant is transplanted from one crop/organism to another which would otherwise have not occurred naturally. This result in a genetically modified organism (GMO) and the new protein resulting from the process can yield a higher quantity harvest over a shorter time to maturity even in severe conditions. This means that genetically engineered (GE) can mature faster, can be grown in harsh conditions like there is rampant drought, high-growth weeds, heavy rainfall, and flooding and heightened disease occurrence areas. This paper will focus on the advantages and the problems that come with genetically modified foods.
There are advantages that come with genetically modified foods. The people who support this technology have justified their support. One of the full application of the genetic modification has given very good reasons why the science should be applied in full. The application specifically on food production results in high yields of crops in a small area unlike the natural types resulting in feeding more people as the land under farming is fast reducing but in contrast, the population is ever increasing at phenomenal levels with more mouths to feed expected as at two billion in less than four decades, according to Saunders, page F9. The research that is being undertaken are seen to benefit farmers in the production of food. With this technology, the farmers decrease their costs while producing foods. This will increase the profits for the production of foods. Research should be enhanced by taking the products and the results that we obtain from these researches. This is an important aspect that is being considered in the production of genetically modified foods.
There are problems that have been identified in this technology. On the other side of the debate, the opponents have various reasons to stand against the full application of the technology. The critics say that instead of reducing the use of chemicals, farmers are actually using more pesticides and herbicides than ever before which results in more destruction of the environment. The use of pesticide and herbicide-resistant crops can trigger an ecological change where weeds and pests that are otherwise thought to be destroyed by the crops will develop resistance and grow new breeds evolving which can have unforeseen consequences on the environment and use of more herbicides and pesticides (Shelton 72). The modification can also result in hundreds of genes that have different characteristics and varied risks which might result in undesired health issues on the consumers. Conclusive experiments have never been done to provide safety beyond any reasonable doubt as experiments have to be done on human beings or animals which is ethically wrong. The tests have to be done in the laboratory and applied and hoped that they give positive results in human beings and animals (Farrel, 79).
Industrially, the technology can result in the production of cooking oils with less saturated fat with lower cholesterol and fats that increases blood pressure, production of hormones which can be used in animals to increase productivity of milk and antibiotics used to prevent and treat diseases in animals. The science is thought to boost the conservation efforts that the environment requires as over-tilling results in the prevention of soil runoff which can deplete the fertility of farmland as crops which have been modified to be weed resistant will require less plowing and less use of herbicides which would have otherwise resulted in pollution of waterways, and destruction of wildlife habitats. Moreover genetic engineering results in creating pest resistant crops which produce toxins that kills pests, meaning that less chemical pesticides are going to be used which would have otherwise had adverse effects on the environment (Shelton 72). The commercialization of food production will result in farmers making a lot of profits within a very short time as yields are set to dramatically increase on a relatively very small piece of land and a shorter maturity period. This enables farmers to plant more within a season which would have otherwise taken the annual season to mature.
In conclusion, the debate will continue to rage for some time until a middle ground can be reached which looks impossible right now. The benefits of this technology is being espoused and shown by the many researches which are being undertaken. The pro-GMO will continue working towards convincing the world to adopt the science but of course it has to prove skeptics that the science is safe. While the opponents will still be holding the world for ransom till an otherwise is found from the proponents while the poor countries continue to suffer (Saunders, F9).
Farrell, T.(2004). The “Frankenfoods” Phenomenon. Vegetarian Times. 319. 79.
Saunders, D. (2012). 'Frankenfoods' have moved on. When will opponents? Biotechnology. F9.
Shelton, D. L. (2000). Frankenfoods: Do you know what your meals are made of? Essence. 31 (3). 78