GM Food – Good or Gross?

Innovative ideas are needed to improve environmentally sustainable, safe and healthy food production to keep up with the growing population on planet Earth. Genetically Modified (GM) or Genetically Engineering (GE) food provide a promising new way to improve crop production due to the numerous benefits associated with it; such as helping improve the shelf life of fruits and vegetables (Wallheimer, B., 2010), improving the yields of certain crops (USDA.gov, 2001) and even making certain foods more nutritious (Stoye, E., 2015). This will help people in all areas of society, including those from less privileged backgrounds, helping to improve their diet, health, and their overall life without changing the variety of food they are provided with. GM crops with pest-resistant genes like Bt Cotton will, in turn, help farmers financially by saving money on useless chemicals and pesticides, but most of all, this will improve the environment we live in by making it safer, helping to further improve the world we live in.

GM crops can impact all areas of society, including the poor, by helping improve the diet, health, and overall lives of the people. Genetic modification can make food more nutritious in areas were little food variety is present and by making certain vaccines edible (Pogrebnyak, N., 2005), making them easier to administer and store. In developing countries, malnutrition is a major problem because people have to rely on a single staple food like rice which on its own doesn’t supply sufficient nutrition. Scientists hope to genetically modify crops to add essential nutrients and minerals. An example of this is “golden rice” (Le Page, M., 2019) which can stimulate our bodies to generate vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency kills 2 million children each year and causes another half million to become permanently blind. Scientists are also hard at work trying to genetically add vaccines to tomatoes or bananas. Traditional vaccines are costly to manufacture and require specialized storage not always available in developing countries. These “edible vaccines” will be easier to ship, store, and administer (Omaye, S., 2004, pp. 243).

Another utility of GM crops is the fact that they not only help people, but in turn help farmers financially by saving farmers money on pesticides and other chemicals and reduces the number of crops lost due to pests. This is done by the use of the pest-resistant gene being genetically modified into certain crops (USDA.gov, 2001). This reduces or eliminates the use of pesticides and plant killers which will make the local environment healthier and safer and indirectly making humans and all other organisms healthier and safer as well. Insect pests cause large crop losses every year, resulting in harsh financial setbacks for farmers. With crops genetically engineered to resist pests, farmers can avoid such losses and bring their produce to market at less cost. In the U.S. alone, farmers spray, spread, and otherwise administer more than 970 million tons of insect and plant killers every year. These pose threats to the environment. Pesticide residues linger on crops and in soil, find their way into the guts of wildlife that eat contaminated foliage and leach into groundwater and wash into streams. If a crop exposes its own natural ability to resist pests, then farmers can use far fewer chemicals, making food production cheaper and safer..

In conclusion, you can see the numerous benefits GM crops provide and how they can help better many aspects of our society by fighting malnutrition by making foods more nutritious, administering vaccines through foods to reduce patients’ pain, saving farmers money by making genetically modifying crops to be pest-resistant and reducing the number of chemicals used to kill pests making our environment safer. While genetic modification is a relatively new technology and it should be tested thoroughly, it opens up a brave new world in improving our day-to-day life.


References
Wallheimer, B. (June 28, 2010). Purdue.edu: Gene leads to longer shelf life for tomatoes, possibly other fruits.
Retrieved from https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/100628HandaTomato.html

USDA.gov. (January, 2001). Bt Cotton & Management of the Tobacco Budword-Bollworm Complex.
Retrieved from https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/oc/np/btcotton/btcotton.pdf

Stoye, E. (November 2, 2015). Scientific American: Gene-Modified Tomatoes Churn Out Healthy Nutrients.
Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gene-modified-tomatoes-churn-out-healthy-nutrients/

Pogrebnyak, N., Golovkin, M., Andrianov, V., Spitsin, S., Smirnov, Y., Egolf, R., & Koprowski, H. (2005).
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) S protein production in plants: development of recombinant vaccine. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America102(25), 9062–9067.
Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0503760102

Le Page, M. (December 31, 2019). New Scientist: GM golden rice gets landmark safety approval in the Philippines.
Retrieved from https://www.newscientist.com/article/2228793-gm-golden-rice-gets-landmark-safety-approval-in-the-philippines/

Omaye, S. (March 15, 2004). Food and Nutritional Toxicology. CRC Press.

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