Title: Should we support GM crops?
Genetically Modified (GM) crops market takes up a large sector in the world’s food production chain, and is growing. The crops are transformed crops modified by addition of external genes, changing the crops’ original nature (Pusztai, 2001). When compared to untransformed crops, GM crops can grow in a harsher environment, and carry a higher nutrition value. However, while GM crops market expands, customers are shrinking, where more and more people in the world tend not to buy GM crops (Finucane & Holup, 2005)(Cook, Keerr & Moore, 2002). This essay will identify and analyze both supporting and opposing views towards GM crops, and will explain why it is more advisable to not support GM crops.
There are two main supporting views towards GM crops – its efficiency and effectiveness. GM crops’ efficiency refers to the crops’ ability and speed to grow in tough conditions, and efficiency is important because it renders crops a higher yield, providing a stable food supply and preventing famine. It is particularly true in developing countries where they struggle to buy enough food for their citizens to survive. On the other hand, effectiveness involves benefits of its consumption and that it does not cause hazards in addition to the hazards found in its untransformed crops. GM crops, monitored by thousands of international scientists, are known for its better nutritional value, and are tremendously beneficial to developing countries (Drake, Ma & Key, 2008). A famous example includes the “Golden Rice Project”. Lack of Vitamin A is common in developing countries, where at critical level could be fatal, and the “Golden Rice Project”, which harvests rice faster with higher Vitamin A content, is estimated to have saved 2 million children per year from Vitamin A deficiency (Drake, Ma & Key, ibid). Another aspect of effectiveness is its safety. To support it with statistics, GM crops are put into industrial use for 15 years already, and no illness is recorded; to support it with science, most GM crops are classified as “substantially equivalent” to their untransformed plants (Society of Toxicology, 2003), which means the GM crops’ compositions and genetic structures are highly identical to their untransformed state, minimizing the chance of potential hazards. Based on its increased efficiency and effectiveness, GM crops are wide spread nowadays to create a more stable supply in higher quality.
However, opposing views argue with three main reasons: food safety issues, ethical concerns and current alternatives.
Firstly, opposing views doubt whether GM crops are safe to eat. Looking detailedly into the scientific researches of GM crops, there are many defects. There are inadequate published researches, and experiments of GM crops are inaccurate (Mayer & Stirling, 2004)(Pusztai, op cit). Inadequate researches indicate that GM crops are not maturely developed enough, and therefore potential hazards and related problems may not yet be discovered (Mayer & Stirling, opcit). On the other hand, experiments of food safety verification of GM crops contain defects. Scientists determine GM crops to be safe when GM crops are “substantially equivalent”; however, “substantially equivalent” is not clearly defined because no specific rules and measurements is provided for how will a food be “substantially equivalent”, and hence is concluded by Pusztai (op cit, pp.1) as an “unscientific concept”. In those experiments of feeding mice with GM crops, the results are criticized as incomplete. Some mice, after being fed GM tomatoes, died within a short period of time, and the death rates exceed the natural level; some other mice’s ability to digest were found to decline (Pusztai, op cit). These presumably originates from GM crops’ DNA mutations (Drake, Ma & Key, op cit)(Pusztai, op cit), which is more active than in the untransformed stage, and hence may produce new unknown allergens and toxins. Toxins are...
References: Cook, A. J., Kerr, G. N., & Moore, K. (2002). Attitudes and intentions towards purchasing GM food. Journal of Economic Psychology, 23(5), 557-572.
Finucane, M. L., & Holup, J. L. (2004). Psychosocial and cultural factors affecting the perceived risk of genetically modified food: An overview of the literature. Social Science & Medicine, 60(7), 1603-1612.
Key, S., Ma, J. K. -., & Drake, P. M. (2008). Genetically modified plants and human health. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 101(6), 290.
Mayer, S., & Stirling, A. (2004). GM crops: Good or bad? EMBO Reports, 5(11), 1021-1024.
The Toxicological Sciences. (2003). The safety of genetically modified foods produced through biotechnology. 71(1), 2-8.
Pusztai, A. (2001). Genetically Modified Foods: Are They a Risk to Human/Animal Health?
Comstock, G. (2010). Ethics and Genetically Modified Foods. Food Ethics. Springer New York: New York, NY
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