There are two sides to this debate. First, there are those who are for the consumption of the GMOs and second, there are those who are against their consumption. In this paper, we shall present both sides of the debate, analyzing the possible and medically or scientifically established evidence on the effects of the genetically modified organisms. In order to be unbiased, the essay will cover the two positions in detail and leave the decision to the reader.
The GM has been in the market since the year 1994. The research on their long term effects on human health has not been established as most of the research has been conducted on animals (McHughen, p. 123). However, the feared effects of these organisms are said to include altered metabolism, accelerated aging, inflammation, immune problems, liver and kidney malfunction, food allergies and increased toxicity in the body, gene transfer and reduced fertility.
On the other hand, let us think on the importance of using the genetically modified food in making the world a better place. How can the GMOs help in eradicating the world hunger? How can the technology be used to save time and money? What of the surplus production that can be stored for future use? What about the environmental advantages they have? In answering these questions, we can be able to evaluate the perfect or less harmful stand in the debate for or against the GMOs. Let us discuss these effects in depth to evaluate if we should or should not advocate for GMOs.
In an experiment where red rats were fed with Calgene tomatoes for 28 days got bleeding stomachs where seven died. In another study where Monsanto corn was used for 90 days, the rats developed numerous reactions such as allergy, infections, toxins and blood related diseases. Additionally, their blood cells, livers and kidneys showed major changes indicating signs of disease infections (Letourneau, p 143). Based on these studies, there is fear that the GMOs can have similar effects on the human body.
There is said to be a probably effect of these products to pregnant women and babies. According to biologist David Schubert, children are the most likely to be affected by the toxins and other dietary problems because without adequate studies, they, children, become experimental animals. Experiments carried out on rats that were fed with GM soy, most of their babies died within the three weeks. Another study shows that buffalos fed on GM cottonseed had complications such as premature delivery, abortion, infertility and prolapsed uterus and many calves died. These contribute to the medical fears of what the genetically modified organisms can do to human health.
Genetically modified organism can cause gene transfer in a process called insertional mutagenesis. Like seen in plants where a foreign gene is inserted in the middle of an existing gene that gives instruction to the plant to stop the production of toxin in its fruits, the same is feared to happen in human (Weasel, p. 185). The foreign gene may interfere with the functioning of the existing gene causing unpredictable changes in the body w2hich would result from the position in which the new gene is inserted. The GM can also introduce unexpected toxicity in the body through ‘pleiotropy’ where the one gene affects multiple characteristics of an organism.
Genetically modified organism/ foods can cause allergic infection. Many children in the United States and Europe have developed serious allergies to peanuts and various other types of foods. There is a prospect that genetic engineering can introduce a gene in an organism thus creating a new allergen or cause an allergic reaction in vulnerable reaction. For example, a suggestion to include a gene from Brazil nut into soy beans was left out due to the fear of causing unanticipated allergic reaction.
However, despite these potential harmful effects of the GMOs, they still appear in our markets and stores. As early as 1990s, scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had warned about the problem of these organisms.
The positive side of genetically modified food would definitely begin with examining the process of food declaration as fit for human consumption. This process is undisputable as the food is assessed and declared fit for consumption. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ensure that foods are safe according to the requirement of the federal Food, Drugs and Cosmetic Act (Weasel, 183). Therefore, any food presented in the market is fit for human consumption and has been checked and approved to have no serious medical effects.
Secondly, the debate against the GMOs is based on studies conducted on animals. Of all the studies, rats have been the main experimental organism. Comparison cannot be made on the immune system of a rat and that of human. Additionally, there have been no scientific prove performed on human that verifies the statement that indeed, GMs have health effects on human.
Genetically modified organisms could end would hunger. These foods have various advantages that make them ideal in alleviating world hunger. Since they are cold and drought tolerant, these plants can be grown in many areas of the world including the arid and semi arid areas of Africa and help eradicating hunger. The fact that the plants grows very fast and are more productive increases the quantity required in fighting starvation in the world.
The plants are pest, herbicide and disease resistant. These advantages not only help in increasing the crop yield but also are an economical and environmental advantage. When the crops are resistant to pests and herbicides are environmental advantageous because they help in preventing environmental damage by reducing the amount of herbicide and pesticide needed. Disease resistance on the other hand ensure there is minimal chemical use, saving on money, and increases the quality of the produce.
Genetically modified food and technology used have the solution for the future. With the increase in population and climatic changes, reliance on traditional crops will be insufficient to feed the ever increasing human population which occupies big areas that can be used for agriculture (Atreya, p. 154). The solution to this lies in the GMOs. Since they assure quantity production and fast growth, GMOs are the solution to the present and future food shortage in the world.
Finally, facts about Genetically Engineered food are astonishing, first, there are no scientific prove that GMOs are fit for human consumption. In fact, scientists have no idea what the effects of these products are on people’s health. Secondly, a large percentage of US citizen eat these foods daily as they are not labeled in the United States. An estimated 75% of the processed foods contain Genetically Engineered ingredients.
Though there is no scientifically determined evidence on the effects of GMO, and they seem to have quite a lengthy advantage in production to meet the requirement of the starving population in the developing countries, they have serious probable health effects in humans (Letourneau, p. 117. Ranging from toxic and allergic reaction, immune system suppression to other body organ related infections, the debate of whether to or not to permit GMOs consumption continues.
While the debate about the GMOs generate concerns and controversy for some consumers, evidence does not prove that they is more risk in consuming GMOs than there is in taking foods produced using the traditional method. Unless such a scientific program is established, the debate will go on. So, is it good to permit the consumption of these foods? The answer is for you to decide.
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Letourneau, Deborah K, and Beth E. Burrows. Genetically Engineered Organisms: Assessing Environmental and Human Health Effects. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2002. Print.
Heredia, Norma, Irene Wesley, and Santos Garcia. Microbiologically Safe Foods. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley, 2009. Print.
McHughen, Alan. Pandora's Picnic Basket: The Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.
Sanderson, Colin J. Understanding Genes and Gmos. Singapore: World Scientific, 2007. Print.
Sobolevsky, Andrei A. Product Differentiation Arising from Genetically Modified Organisms: Trade and Welfare Effects in the Soybean Complex. 2002. Print.
Stewart, Richard B. Gmo Trade Regulation and Developing Countries. New York, NY: New York University School of Law, 2009. Print.
Weasel, Lisa H. Food Fray: Inside the Controversy Over Genetically Modified Food. New York: Amacom-American Management Association, 2009. Print.