TRANSGENIC SPECIES SPEECH
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen.
Today, the topic for our debate is on whether “the benefits of transgenic species outweigh the ethical considerations.” We, the negative team, believe that this statement is false. The first affirmative speaker has tried to tell you that transgenic plant species are a revolutionary new way to produce crops with dramatically increasing yields and as a result, this will increase the farmlands’ productivity. However, this is wrong. In fact, as evidence suggests, the introduction of transgenic crops are doing very little to increase overall crop yields.
The second affirmative speaker spoke to you on how transgenic animals provides a shortcut to the development of animals that have many desired traits and its products can be benefits of mankind. Examples include animals such as transgenic pigs enriched with omega-3 fatty acids and cows that produce better milk. In our defence, animals do have their own rights. The creation of transgenic animals is morally wrong and the long-term effect on them and their consumers are questionable.
Finally, the third and final speaker from the affirmative team made a point on how transgenic species will herald a new era of food production, improving animal food quality and productivity. They may not be natural, but not everything natural is good for us and not everything unnatural is bad for us. She argued that genetically modified foods have been on the market since 1996, we would know by now if they were an immediate health threat. However, this is wrong, just because you don’t know of a problem, who is there to say that it doesn’t exist? Most transgenic products are still yet to be tested for safety and it may be most of these that are ending up in our grocery carts without us even knowing. From this, we can also see that more and more possible health risks associated with transgenic species are starting to show.
First let us examine one of our case studies. The transgenic plant MON 810 corn. This is a genetically modified crop developed by an American agricultural biotechnology corporation Monsanto. Bacillus Thuringiensis, a bacterium which produces the BT toxin poisonous to insects, is inserted as a gene into the DNA of MON 810 corns. This plant has been purposely modified to combat crop loss due to insects and is now grown on a large scale in USA. Despite it having been claimed that the insecticide will cause no harm to human consumers, However there is compelling evidence that shows the rates of chronic diseases have been increasing drastically since transgenic species products were introduced to public in USA. The chart on this slide show increase in inflammation rate, such as chronic constipation, gastroesophageal reflux, Crohn 's disease, diabetes and inflammatory bowel diseases
In April 2009, the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety of the German government suspended the approval and banned the cultivation of any more MON810 maize. It also got banned in other countries around the world including Austria, Greece and France. Since July 12th its cultivation has been banned in Italy, in reaction to a scientific report sent out by the Italian Agricultural Research Council.
Another example of a transgenic species is cows being treated with a genetically engineered form of Bovine somatotropin, also known as BGH. BGH is a peptide hormone produced by cows that is shown to have kept their metabolic processes regulated, increased their milk yield and beef growth. Yet, while this is all happening, this was also slowly killing the cow.
In 1937, the administration of BGH was shown to be increasing the milk yield in lactating cows. Until the 1980s, there was a very limited use of the compound in agriculture and during this time also, the knowledge of the structure and function of the hormone increased. Later, the gene had been separated, purified and was now being applied to cow through genetic engineering. Since then, it has been immersed in controversy and parts of the concerns were in regards to the potential effects this has on the animals’ health.
A 1991 report by Rural Vermont revealed that BGH cows were suffering from serious health problems, including an alarming rise in the number of deformed calves and in mastitis, a painful bacterial infection of the udder that causes inflammation. Milk taken from these cows also now contained higher levels of IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor-1). Although we, humans, naturally have IGF-1, elevated levels of it have been linked to the diagnosis of colon and breast cancer. Although there has been no direct connection made as yet between the two, some scientists have expressed concern over the possibility of this relationship.
Our first speaker spoke to you about how transgenic developed plants contains genes that have been artificially introduced into the plant 's genetic makeup through several biotechnology techniques. It is highly questionable if Monsanto did, in fact, deliver the crops as they had claimed according to Doug Gurian-Shermanafter’s book “Failure to yield”. After more than 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialisation in the United States, it can be concluded that transgenic species crops have done little to increase overall crop yields. A report by researchers from the University of Wisconsin also suggest to us that transgenic developed plants have still a “long way from generating higher crop yields with fewer inputs.’’ Our first speaker also spoke that one of the major factors that led to an estimated 125,000 cotton farmers taking their own life was that of transgenic cotton failing to yield.
Our second speaker spoke to you about the ethical issues of animal rights and welfare. Animal rights is the belief that animals have an intrinsic value separate from any value they have to humans and a right to be free of human use, cruelty, confinement and use. She also stated that biotechnology could be bad for animals with them possibly suffering from painful side effects. These include animals such as the broiler chicken, which are being bred to grow too fast for their legs to support their way, causing them discomfort.
Since "The Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin was published in 1859, we are gradually starting to understand life better and better. His theory of evolution by natural selection is one of the best-substantiated theories in the history of science, having been supported by evidence from a wide variety of scientific disciplines. Since then, many scientists have contributed to the discovery and understanding of the structure of DNA. The development of powerful laboratory techniques, most of which came in after 1970, have enabled us to study and manipulate genes that have the potential to alter the path of evolution. While we celebrate our achievements on the advancement in scientific understanding and technology, we should ask our selves if we should manipulate the genes of species just because it can be done.
So Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion, we believe the ethical considerations outweigh the benefits of transgenic species especially in a commercial or massive scale to produce food. It is far too early to draw the conclusion that all transgenic food species are safe. We, the negative team, believe that we still need to be cautious and call for more studies, investigations and tests.
The food from transgenic species has been banned at Monsanto’s, the biggest promoter of genetically modified food, canteen. Personally, I would not eat transgenic food…will you?
Biotechnology. (n.d.). BBC News. Retrieved November 24, 2013, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/using/biotechnology_1.shtml
Do GMO Crops Really Have Higher Yields?. (n.d.). Mother Jones. Retrieved November 25, 2013, from http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/02/do-gmo-crops-have-lower-yields
Global Research. (n.d.). Global Research. Retrieved November 24, 2013, from http://www.globalresearch.ca/potential-health-hazards-of-genetically-engineered-foods/8148
Sherman, D. (2009). Failure to yield evaluating the performance of genetically engineered crops. Cambridge, Mass.: Union of Concerned Scientists.
Transgenic Animals: Their Benefits To Human Welfare. (n.d.). Actionbioscience. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotech/margawati.html
APA formatting by BibMe.org.
Assessment of Reliability
In my assessment of the reliability of each source, I have measured it against 3 criterions: verifiability, stability and nature of subject.
1. Biotechnology – (http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/using/biotechnology_1.shtml)
This source I have taken from the BBC, a well trusted website that contains reliable information. The article is not of controversial nature and information I read was not susceptible to any bias. It is well established in both length and information – I found this to be a high reliable source.
2. Do GMO Crops Really Have Higher Yields? – (http://www.motherjones.com/tom philpott/2013/02/do-gmo-crops-have-lower-yields)
This source I am unsure of how reliable it may be, as a correspondent for a journal wrote it. This article’s information may not be 100% accurate and it was only last updated early in the year. For these reasons it is not entirely reliable but still of medium reliability.
3. Potential Health Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods (http://www.globalresearch.ca/potential-health-hazards-of-genetically-engineered-foods/8148)
This website contained an extensive References section that contains reliable sources. It was written by a reliable source – the centre for research on Globalisation and this makes it more of a high reliability source than my second one.
4. Failure to yield evaluating the performance of genetically engineered crops – Doug Gurian Sherman
This source was somewhat reliable – I had only picked out the information I needed. Published a few years back.
5. Transgenic Animals: Their Benefits To Human Welfare (http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotech/margawati.html)
This website was of quite high reliability. Reliable source. Accurate Information. Recently updated.
References: section that contains reliable sources. It was written by a reliable source – the centre for research on Globalisation and this makes it more of a high reliability source than my second one. 4. Failure to yield evaluating the performance of genetically engineered crops – Doug Gurian Sherman This source was somewhat reliable – I had only picked out the information I needed. Published a few years back. 5. Transgenic Animals: Their Benefits To Human Welfare (http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotech/margawati.html) This website was of quite high reliability. Reliable source. Accurate Information. Recently updated.