The past score of years has witnessed the astonishing revolution in the scope of plant breeding technologies. The biological technologies have regularly been utilized to create new gene combinations for progressing crop diversities. This intentionally modified by the manipulation of the DNA, and transformation of certain genes to create new variations of life, which called genetically modified (GM) food. There is presently some debate about whether to accept GM food. The disadvantages of GM food are labelling issue and transformation of certain genes might lead to environmental issues. Nevertheless, there are also a number of crucial advantages such as farmers could improve their economic benefits and GM food could improve the nutritional quality to prevent disease. Therefore, this essay will argue that GM food has obvious benefits to the society because it can improve economic benefits by trading and decrease allergenic.
GM food has some negative consequences for society. The main adverse effect is that GM food may has mandatory labelling scheme issues. Research has shown that some manufacturers realize that implement a mandatory labelling scheme could cost a fortune (Steiner 2000, p. 158; Uzogara 2000, p. 188). Moreover, labelling of GM food could remind consumer these products are biotech, and this could lead to customer losses (Uzogara 2000, p. 188). Then, the concept of mandatory labelling scheme for GM food in some countries is uncertainty (Steiner 2000, p. 158). For example, manufacturers use misleading and confusing labelling to muddle the consumer such as ‘may contain genetically modified material’ (Steiner 2000, p. 158). Indeed, labelling issue for GM food is extremely difficult to implement in some countries, governments may promulgate a series of legislation to implementation.
Secondly, transformation of new DNA technology used to create GM food that has environmental risks. This involves monarch butterfly early death and threatens beneficial insects, which would seriously destroy the balance of the ecosystem. Some species are suffering from premature death after insects fed by GM crops, and also this might result in difficulty in reproduction such as monarch butterfly and green lacewing insects (Steiner 2000, p. 153). Furthermore, Lemaux (2009, p. 528) has reported an experiment, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in genetically engineered (GE) corn pollen could lead to colony collapse disorder that accelerate the bees’ decline. It can be seen then that mandatory labelling scheme issue and environmental threats could give rise to some negative aspects for GM food.
If one looks closely at the literature on this topic, nevertheless, there are a number of significant advantage points to GM food. One of these is that GM food could improve farmers’ economic benefits. According to Uzogara (2000, p. 193), GM food could be converted from annuals to perennials that would increase crop yields during the year. Perennial crops would lead to increased labor allocation, reduced labor costs, decreased fertilizer use and cost of production for farmers to make more economic profits (Uzogara 2000, pp. 193-194). For example, according to USDA surveys from 2001 to 2003, 79% of US farmers who choose Bt corn to increase yields (Lemaux 2009, p. 536). He also states that the Zaragoza region is one of the three leading GE corn-growing regions in Spanish and has at least 11.8% yield increase. Indeed, the profitability of farmers’ growth is approximately $69 per acre per year higher than conventional farmers (Lemaux 2009, p. 536).
Especially, farmers in developing countries realized the most significant economic benefits from GM rice because large-scale farmers have higher yields and less infestation (Lemaux 2009, p. 536). This evidence shows that GF food farming is a potentially high profit margin business, and profitability often depends on factors relating to crop yield and pest infestation. Thus, GM food could change the status quo to achieve the highest profitability for farmers. Allied to this is the further advantage of GM food which could improve nutritional food quality. This involves nutritional content and health-enhancing properties of particular foods that might solve malnutrition and population health problems in developing countries. Uzogara (2000, p. 194) states that GM crops would help the population to reach their daily based requirements and prevent malnutrition.
For example, cassava has been genetically modified to have a higher nutrient value (Anon cited in Uzogara 2000, p. 194). Furthermore, the nutritionally enhanced crops like iron, vitamin A and Beta-carotene dense rice could help alleviate malnutrition (Bouis 2007, pp. 80-83). For instance, according to research, approximately three million preschool children in developing countries are suffering from vitamin A deficiency that could lead to visible eye damage, however, GM rice can increase vitamin A and iron which could prevent blindness (Bouis 2007, pp. 82-86; Ferber cited in Uzogara 2000, p. 194). It is clear that farmers could gain significant economic benefits through GM food because it would increase the yield and reduce labor costs, and nutritionally enhanced crops could help the population to prevent disease or malnutrition.
Consequently, although GM food as one kind of biological technologie can have some negative outcomes for labelling and environment issues, GM food arguably has more positive effects. The effect of global trading that is a significant benefit to improve economy. The USA is the dominant exporter of both GM soybeans and GM maize, which are account for 76% of GM maize and 50% of GM soybeans exports (Nielsen et al. 2003, p. 780). He also claims that high-income Asia is the main importer of GM maize and GM soybeans that are 41% and 30% respectively. Moreover, Nabradi & Popp (2011, p. 8) report that GM crops account for a great proportion from global trading that providing significant export profits for many countries. For example, The United States, Argentina and Brazil are the world’s three largest GM soybean and GM maize exporters with above 90% and 80% share of world soybean and maize trade (Nabradi & Popp 2011, pp. 9-10).
Similarly, the volume of global soybean trade increased from 85.4 to 87.9 million tonnes from 2009 to 2011, and the volume of global maize trade increased from 86 to 88.5 million tonnes in three years (Nabradi & Popp 2011, p. 10). They also indicate that China has significant soybean importing volume that from 46 to 49 million tonnes during three years. Further to this, eliminating allergens as a result of GM food has been one of the prominent concerns among food quality and human health. Allergenic foods usually contain multiple allergens, such as milk, soy, peanut, crustaceans, fish, egg and tree nuts. According to Herman (2003, p. 1318), using GM to remove intrinsic allergens from soybeans that present in thousands of processed and prepared foods in developed and developing countries. He also claims that eliminate allergens from GM soybeans that has high relationship to the development of GM crops, and transgenic soybeans is a first step in solving food allergies (Herman 2003, p. 1319).
Otherwise, the alternative GM method to remove the allergen from food, for instance, some experiments to use gene suppression technology attempts to reduce and/or eliminate allergens in rye and rice seed, and even use this measure to suppress an allergen in shrimp that is potentially dangerous to sensitive people (Herman 2003, p. 1319). Plausibly, GM food may eliminate allergen from all of food that would help people to stay away from food allergies. Although some argue that GM food may has some negative impacts to mandatory labelling scheme, there is considerable labelling of GM food still has positive impacts on consumer and manufacturers. Uzogara (2000, p. 188) claims that labelling for GM food would enable the consumer to avoid ethical, cultural, or religious reasons by certain foods.
For example, Jews and Muslims usually insist on Kosher and Halal foods because the purity of this food can be guaranteed, which not contain pig genes (Uzogara 2000, p. 187). He further maintains that product quality can be improved by labelling, for instance, improved favour, longer shelf-life, and build brand identity. Similarly, according to General Labelling Directive, labelling for GM food that means this can be guaranteed by European regulation, and consumer can trust the information on the products (Andersen 2010, p. 139). Furthermore, while some authors claim that GM food has negative impacts on environment, Uzogara (2000, p. 195) indicates that GM food has still environmental benefits include protection against plant diseases, improvement of saline soil, and herbicide tolerance.
GM food like tomatoes, squash and corn become virus resistant that against GM food destroying viruses or viral diseases (Uzogara 2000, p. 195). According to Bouis (2007, p. 80), GM crops can improve soil conditioning that is changing highly saline soils. Then, herbicides are effective against several target weeds also cuts conventional herbicide use significantly (Uzogara 2000, p. 195). While discussing GM food may has some negative impacts to mandatory labelling scheme and environment issues, the considerable positive consequences to improve global trading and remove intrinsic allergens can never be neglected.
In conclusion, GM food clearly has advantages on economy and human health. While GM food lead to the mandatory labelling scheme hard to implement and has threats to the environment, success in the labelled GM food let some consumer more easier to choose food and make the crops stronger to against different threats. Furthermore, GM food
Andersen, LB 2010, ‘The EU rules on labelling of genetically modified foods: mission accomplished?’, European Food & Feed Law Review, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 136-143, viewed 8 November 2014.
Bouis, HE 2007, ‘The potential of genetically modified food crops to improve human nutrition in developing countries’, Journal of Development Studies, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 79-96, viewed 28 October 2014.
Herman, EM 2003, ‘Genetically modified soybeans and food allergies’, Journal Of Experimental Botany, vol. 54, no. 386, pp. 1317-1319, viewed 12 November 2014.
Lemaux, PG 2009, ‘Genetically engineered plants and foods: a scientist’s analysis of the issues (Part II)’, Annual Review Of Plant Biology, vol. 60, no. 1, pp. 511-559, viewed 11 November 2014.
Nabradi, A & Popp, J 2011, ‘Economics of GM crop cultivation’, APSTRACT: Applied Studies in Agribusiness and Commerce, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 07-19, viewed 10 November 2014.
Steiner, MP 2000, ‘Food flight – the changing landscape of genetically modified foods and the law’, Review Of European Community & International Environmental Law, vol. 9, no. 2, p. 152-160, viewed 11 November 2014.
Uzogara, SG 2000, ‘The impact of genetic modification of human foods in the 21st century: A review’, Biotechnology Advances, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 179-206, viewed 3 November 2014.
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