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Genetically Modified Food

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The controversy over genetically modified (GM) food, also known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is viewed in diverse¬†manners worldwide. Some individuals believe that GM food is more beneficial to society than not, while others bear strong beliefs that¬†they may cause negative and harmful effects in the future. There are several reasons that could lead a person to believe that GM foods¬†have a variety of advantages. However, there are various factors that could lead a person to believe otherwise as well.¬†In the article entitled, ‚ÄúCounterpoint: Genetically Modified Foods Should be Carefully Regulated,‚ÄĚ Sally Driscoll and David Morley¬†discuss their opinions regarding GM food. Genetically modified foods are produced and sold nationwide. However, the United States¬†government does not require GM food to be labeled as such. Therefore, when Americans purchase food, they are predominantly¬†unaware of what they are buying and consuming. Everyone has their own opinion regarding this matter and whether or not the United¬†States Department of Agriculture (USDA) should regulate and identify GM food from the rest. Many argue that consumers should have¬†the right to decide whether or not to purchase GM food as well. In order to do so, GM food would have to be regulated and labeled¬†accordingly before placed on store shelves and sold to consumers (Driscoll & Morley, 2011, p.1).¬†In the article entitled, ‚ÄúGenetically Modified Foods: An Overview,‚ÄĚ written by Alex Rich and Tom Warhol, 92 percent of Americans¬†feel GM ingredients in food products should be labeled. However, members of the FDA argue that GM food is indeed very similar to non-¬†GM food and bears no potential risk. In other words, they feel labels are an unnecessary part of GM marketing (Rich & Warhol, 2011, p.

2). Europe eventually made it illegal to sell GM food without labeling it. When labeling became mandatory, the sales of genetically¬†modified food dropped drastically. Many Americans believe if this were to become mandated in the United States as well, many¬†consumers (when afforded the opportunity to have a choice between the two) would chose food that does not contain GM ingredients.¬†Since there is no way to differentiate between GM food and unaltered food, consumers that wish to steer clear of GM food purchase¬†organic food (Driscoll & Morley, 2011, p. Research showed that several Americans do not have a side in the issue regarding GM foods. Studies showed the majority was actually¬†‚Äúunaware of, an unconcerned about‚ÄĚ GM cropping and marketing (Rich & Warhol, 2011, p. 3). Critics of genetically modified food view¬†this situation differently. They believe the primary reason Americans are so laid back with this issue is due to the fact that they are¬†uninformed as to which products they purchase have been genetically modified (Rich & Warhol, 2011, p. 4).

In other words, how can¬†Americans have an opinion on a topic they know nothing about and have never been educated on?¬†Food is an essential and significant part of everyday life. For thousands of years, humans have been consuming the same types of¬†food. However, genetics have become more advanced throughout the years, allowing scientists to alter plants and animals. Traditionally,¬†animals are the subject of scientific research ‚Äúbut it is now humans who are being treated as guinea pigs, every time they are subjected¬†to GM meats and other products.‚ÄĚ In 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deemed it safe for humans to consume cloned¬†animals, while the USDA recommended that GM foods stay off the market indefinitely. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove¬†that GM food will bear any negative long-term effects (Driscoll & Morley, 2011, p.2).

Environmentally, some farmers believe herbicide and insecticide-engineered plants are not as beneficial to the environment as they are made out to be. This method discontinues weeds and/or insects temperamentally because it allows them to become immune to crops. However, because they build up a resistance to crops, additional pesticide spraying is needed regardless (Driscoll & Morley, 2011, p. 4). Cross pollination is an area of major concern as well. For crops being grown outdoors, cross pollination can occur from the wind or insects. Because cross pollination is an event in which farmers have little or no control over, those who attempt to grow organic food should reconsider their techniques and produce their crops strictly indoors (Driscoll & Morley, 2011, p. 3). This is the only true way to prevent these unwanted mishaps.

In the essay entitled, ‚ÄúA Cure for World Hunger or ‚ÄėFrankenfood,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Justin Petersen discusses the benefits and negative aspects of GM¬†food. His argument solely depends upon the situation given at hand. If GM food can prevent malnourishment in some countries, why not¬†produce mass amounts of GM food? However, why are Americans not demanding stricter regulations and research studies so they may¬†decide for themselves whether or not they want to put these types of food into their bodies? These are some of the questions he attempts¬†to answer and he also tries to inform his readers of both the negative and positive outlooks on GM food (Veit & Gould, 2011, p. 519).¬†For nearly twenty years, scientists have argued that GM crops can assist in the prevention and elimination of citizens starving in¬†countries where the majority of the population is in poverty. Because GM food can withstand pests, diseases, and droughts, costs can be¬†reduced and larger yields of crops can be harvested. This is one way to alleviate the amount of malnourished people residing in less¬†fortunate countries.

According to Petersen, in the year 2000, ‚Äúmore than 800 million people throughout the world were starving or¬†malnourished, while five million children died each year as a direct result.‚ÄĚ Although it is not guaranteed to end world hunger¬†completely and indefinitely, GM technology is continuing to grow and advance¬†(Veit & Gould, 2011, p. 510). If utilized properly in¬†underdeveloped countries for people in great need, GM food would terminate a significant amount of starving and suffering families¬†throughout the world.¬†The FDA does not test food for safety before it is placed on store shelves. Instead, they allow the companies themselves to test their¬†own products. Many companies, however, voluntarily test their products before placing them on the market. There are allergens that are¬†introduced into some genetically modified foods in certain companies but since they are not tested by the FDA, they cannot be placed¬†on the labels. Therefore, buyers of the products are uninformed of the ingredients in their food, making those with allergies more¬†susceptible to allergic reactions. As Petersen said, ‚ÄúThat just underscores why it‚Äôs so important that the government require companies¬†to test genetically engineered foods for new allergens (Veit & Gould, 2011, p. 515).‚ÄĚ

Several people must consume certain specific GM¬†products in order for a company to be absolutely certain of which proteins will and will not result in an allergic reaction. A¬†recommendation made for the FDA is to ‚Äúrequire companies to test every newly introduced protein to see if it resembles known food¬†allergens (Veit & Gould, 2011, p. 516).‚Ä̬†Whether or not society is for or against GM food, it will always be an issue of growing concern. As advances in technology¬†progress and people become more open minded about the situation, laws will either be created to provide certain regulations or people¬†will just have to accept the fact that GM food is not labeled. If it is that much of a concern to an individual, organic food is always an¬†option. While fortunate countries may be primarily concerned with government regulations, it would overall, as in Petersen‚Äôs essay, be a¬†very beneficial idea for the less fortunate countries since they literally have people starving to death. Petersen‚Äôs essay best depicted the¬†overall views of both sides. Several factors made it possible to decipher for oneself what is adequate.

Driscoll, S., & Morley, D.C. (2011). Counterpoint: Genetically Modified Foods Should be Carefully
Regulated, 1-4. Retrieved from EBSCOhost Database.
Rich, A. K., & Warhol, T. (2011). Genetically Modified Foods: An Overview, 1-4. Retrieved from
EBSCOhost Database.
Veit, R., & Gould, C. (2010). Argument: Reading, Writing, and Research. Writing, Reading, &
Research. Boston, MA: Wadsworth.

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