This type of food is already a daily reality, being used in the preparation of crackers, cereals, soy oil, breads, pasta and many others. I’d love to know your opinion! Feel free to access this link and answer this 2 minute survey anonymously
What do we consider as GM crops?
A plant to which you have added DNA using recombinant techniques. Crops are most often genetically modified to improve resistance to insects, herbicides, and disease or to contain extra nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, and D. Different countries have slightly different definitions for GMO and different legislations.
The GMO ”Evolution”
|Human selective/artificial breeding||
The process by which humans used animal breeding and plant breeding to selectively develop new organisms with particular desirable characteristics/traits. Some examples are cauliflower, broccoli, corn and banana!
|Gregor Mendel’s Laws||
Mendel’s observations from a pea experiment became the foundation of modern genetics. He is widely considered a pioneer in the field of genetic modifications.
Induction of uncharacterized mutations into the plants that started in the 1920’s and utilized radiation or chemical methods. Some results were pomegranates and some kinds of pepper. Not considered GMOs in most legislations
Mixing genes from two different species. Strawberries of today came from wild species from virginia and chile were breeded together at the Versailles botanical garden in paris in mid 18th century.
Incision of genes borrowed from bacteria or virus.
Genetic tool that allows for very precise cuts in the DNA , like a ”molecular scissor” that cuts DNA strands. Legislations are still in progress in most countries to determine if they produce GMOs or not.
1) Increases nutritional value and helps fighting malnourishment in developing countries
Vitamin A deficiency kills more children than Malaria, HIV or Tuberculosis, killing 2,000,000 children each year. Golden Rice contains high amounts of beta carotene that diminishes vitamin A deficiency. Researchers estimate that just one cup of golden rice per day will save the lives of thousands of children.
2) Increased Food Supply
The world eats 11 million pounds of food every day and a UN estimate suggests we’ll need 70% more by 2050. Still each year, 40 % of the potential harvest is lost to pests, climate conditions and disease. Genetically engineered plants can be more resilient to climate change and plants that can better adapt to erratic weather and adverse soil conditions, making them resistant to droughts or floods.
3) Global and Local Impact
Eggplant is an important crop in Bangladesh but often, whole harvests are destroyed by pests. Farmers had to rely heavily on pesticides, which was expensive and frequently got farmers. The introduction of a new GM eggplant in 2013 stopped this, as the BT protein, acted as an effective killer of insects but harmless to humans. This reduced insecticide use on eggplants by more than 80%, the health of farmers improved, and their income rose dramatically.
- ” Without biotechnology, there’s no papaya industry. Simple as that,” – Dennis Gonsalves, the scientist who developed the GMO papaya.
- In the 1990s, the papaya industry in Hawaii suffered with the ringspot virus, which threatened to wipe out Hawaiian papaya.
The solution was a genetically modified plant vaccinated against the virus. Without it, the state’s papaya industry would have collapsed.
The bad side:
|1) Gene Flow – GM crops could mix with traditional crops and introduce unwanted new characteristics into them. To prevent this there is a method, but is a big anti-GMO argument by itself. Terminator seeds could produce sterile plants, requiring farmers to buy new seeds every year. The very concept of this, however, caused a public outcry, stopping the technology being put to use.|
|2) Corporate control – Much of the criticism of this technology is actually criticism of modern agriculture and a business practice of the huge corporations that control our food supply. Smaller farmers may become dependent of gmos because of pressure of the market. Currently, only six companies (Cargill, Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bunge and Bayer) dominate 99% of the transgenic seeds market, with royalties. According to the bioethical principle of justice and the need theory, the populations that need GM crops the most shall be granted free access to it, but that is definitely not always the case.|
|3) Cancer? Some safety concerns – After 20 years of careful study and rigorous peer review by thousands of independent scientists,
major scientific organizations in the world have concluded that the crops currently on the market are safe to eat and that the process of genetic engineering is no more risky than older methods of genetic modification, but there is still much public speculations that GM crops are cancerogenous/bad for our health in general. Still, proper labelling should be demanded to respect the consumer’s right for autonomy.
What can you do?
The first step is to educate your community and take part in discussions or conferences
You can also take action by supporting GMOs or going against it and supporting/donating to an organization that serves your beliefs, such as The Greenpeace for the banning of GM crops or The Gates Foundation for distribution of GM crops in developing countries
Label! Ask your government representatives to ensure legislation bout proper labelling and respect your right for autonomy so that everyone can make an informed decision.
In 2013, protestants from two anti-GMO groups vandalized a field of golden rice in the Philippines, slowing down research and destroying the work of local farmers. Avoid being a part of unproductive speculations; have your opinion based on evidence and respect other people.
Continuing the debate
The importance of generating these discussions is the impact on reinforcing or creating legislation and ensuring that the scientific advancement is being supported fairly while also being regulated fairly. In my country (Brazil), GM crops are extremely important for our economy and for the people working in the agriculture/food business and proper labelling is demanded by law. I can’t imagine how it would be if it GM crops were illegal. There are many different aspects to look at in order to understand the real implications of genetically modified organisms, therefore clarifying grey areas is crucial to diminish public hysteria and ensure a better understanding of the topic by the public, which may generate significant impacts on the future of agricultural GE and avoid unethical measures to be taken! * please note that I have not included all benefits and all negative consequences
If you are interest, here are some analysis and perspectives that stood out to me:
Questions or concerns?
Feel free to contact me at @email@example.com
You are also welcome to share feedback or action steps relating to the future of GMOs!