Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Foods

 

American economist Jeremy Rifkin once said, “May; of the genetically modified foods will be safe, I’m sure. Will most of them be safe? Nobody knows”. This quote can be connected with the age-old debate about GM foods. GM foods are basically formed from organisms which have altered DNA in order to form a desirable trait according to the needs of the people. There have already been a lot of debates that took place because of the topic of GM foods. On one hand, supporters emphasize the GM foods can be really beneficial because they are pest, cold, and herbicide resistant as well as drought and cold tolerant. They also claim that through GM foods, the next generations will be able to ensure food supply. However, the other side of the debate stresses the negative consequences of utilizing GM foods. For instance, GM foods are undeniably costly and there are certain indirect risks which can be cause to human health and the environment. In weighing these considerations when it comes to the issue of GM foods, it can be seen that disadvantages outweigh its advantages. There are many hazards which can be brought by the use of GM foods that can negatively affect humans, animals, and the environment.

Cost implication is one of the main disadvantages of genetically modified (GM) foods.  The process of developing the food is costly.  Establishing a centre for developing GM foods requires a heavy capital investment. The government departments involved in the development of GM foods drains the uses a lot of taxpayers’ money that compromises the ability of the government to offer other services.  Expensive machines are needed to support modification of genetics of food items.  In addition to the acquisition costs, maintaining these machines is also costly   pushing the overall costs quite high. Human resource costs in developing and producing GM food is high. The process of developing GM food is time consuming and it can take several decades.  Highly skilled man power is needed to monitor and control the process. As a result, the total administration cost is high due to the long duration and the skills level of the personnel involved. Human resources in GM food development facilities are also subjected to intensive training to enable them manage the risks associated with GM food during development process.  The cost of labeling GM food is also high that makes producers fail to label GM products thus not distinguishing them from organic products (Williams).  In case the regulators demand that labels be used for all GM products, the cost of food would increase that compromises the ability of the government to control the cost of living. An ideal innovation in the agricultural sector is one that pushes the cost of production down thus enhancing the affordability of food. The fact that GM technology can increase the cost of production in the agricultural sector implies that it does not make economic sense.

GM foods are said to have adverse health implications.  It is everybody’s responsibility to avoid engaging in activities that can compromise people’s health. Evidence shows that consumption of GM foods has negative health impacts.  Ingestion of GM food can lead to digestion problems since the human body may take time to adapt the digestion of GM foods that causes health complication. The newness of the GM food in the digestive tract can also lead to an infection.  Studies have also proved that some GM foods can cause autoimmune diseases and cancer. Lastly, the environmental impact of the production of GM food can have negative health impacts. Any element of the GM food that leads to water, air, or soil pollution can have a health footprint (Wald 34). It is also proven that GM food promote allergic reactions in people and animals.  These allergies compromise the ability of individuals to live normal lives. Health issues are serious due to the far reaching impacts of ill health. The government spends enormous resources in healthcare and risking public health by allowing the consumption of GM food is an insult to the government and other stakeholders in the healthcare sector.  People also spend   huge amounts of money in hospital bills when treating complications emanating from the consumption of GM foods.  Ill health compromises the productivity of individuals that in turn brings down national productivity.

GM food has adverse impacts on the environment. There are diverse negative impacts of the GM technology on the environment. Stakeholders in environment protection are against anything that threatens bio diversity. GM technology can have unintended effects that impact the environment negatively (Miraglia et al. 1157).  Research shows that genetically modified plants can spread their genes to some species of weed that leads to resistance to herbicides.   One of the main objectives of altering the genes of the food crops is to make them resistance to adverse conditions such as drought. Passing drought resistance genes to the weed creates draught resistance that compromises the ability to control weed.  It has also been proved that pollen grains from GM food crops can kill some species of insects that is a threat to bio diversity. Insects play a crucial role in pollination and reducing them in the eco-system interferes with plant reproduction. GM food may require strong chemicals and large quantities of fertilized that impacts the environment negatively. Chemicals sprays on plants cause soil, water, and air pollution.  Insecticides can kill unintended animals and insects that is a threat to bio diversity. They can also lead to the release of heavy gasses in the atmosphere that causes global warming.  Insecticides that seep in the soil destroy soil’s living organism that reduces soil aeration. The activities of living organisms in the soil leads to aeration and the GM food can lead to the usage of strong chemicals that terminate the lives of such organisms (Miraglia et al. 1159). The fact that some GM food is created to increase production implies that genetic food crops are gross nutrients consumers. Farmers are therefore required to increase the rate of fertilizer application to provide the necessary nutrients. The high rate of fertilized use can lead soil poisoning especially when fertilizers rich in phosphorus are used. Runoff water carries fertilizer to water bodies causing water pollution. Deposition of fertilizer in water bodies leads to excessive vegetation that causes an imbalance in the aquatic ecosystem (Miraglia et al. 1170) .

Commercialization of genetically modified food has negative results. The main objective of businesses is to make profit and they can therefore spread false information concerning the fitness of the GM food with an aim of safeguarding their investments.   Corporate investment in GM food has diversified the  GM technology. Developing GM food is expensive and businesses can exploit unethical means of recovering costs. Most investors focus on convincing the world that GM technology is the solution to the food problem facing the world with an aim of making people buy the GM products (Qaim, Matin, and Shahzad 23-27).

Despite the different arguments against Gm food, evidence shows that the activism against the technology has in most cases been based on unconfirmed rumors. Lack of objectivity in the debate started in Europe when different groups staged demonstrations protesting the authorization GM   food in the European market. These protests later spread to other parts of the world that made people develop hostility against the technology (Michael 43). GM food has many advantages and most of issues raised against the technology cannot be confirmed scientifically.

In conclusion, genetically modified food has more disadvantages that advantages. The technology’s main disadvantages include   high cost, negative health impact, adverse health implication, and corporate participation in the development of GM technology. These disadvantages are in public domain making people to develop hostility against the technology.  However, these disadvantages are based on unconfirmed research.  Some   of the said negative impacts of the technology cannot be proven scientifically.

Work Cited

Michael, Pollan. “Feeding frenzy” New York Times magazine.(1999):43

Miraglia, M et al. “Detection and traceability of genetically modified organisms in the food production chain.” Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association 42.7 (2004) : 1157-80.

Qaim, Matin, and Shahzad Kouser. “Genetically Modified Crops and Food Security.” (2013) : 23-44

Wald, Michael. “Frankenfoods controversy, lies and health risks.”(2014): 34-35

Williams, Richard. “Genetically modified food poses no danger to public.”(nd)

 

 

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