Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are made by introducing a gene from a superficial source like animal, virus, plant or bacteria into usually associated species. Prime reasons crops are modified is to enhance desired traits such as: a resistance to herbicides and pesticides, increased nutritional content, improved tolerance to the effects of adverse weather conditions and produce millions of identical crops for cheaper. Currently, GM crops are grown around the world by approximately 18 million farmers. With more than 75 countries that import, grow and/or research GMOs, and out of these, only 64 countries world wide require labeling laws.
As there will be in depth understanding of the United States, which have 40% of their farmlands dedicated to GMO production without the requirement to properly label their packaging. On the contrary, United Kingdom (UK) has minimal GMO farmlands and require manufacturers to label if the food has been modified in any way. Ethically and economically speaking this will be analyzed to determine if countries should force labeling laws for GM crops?
Globally By the year 2050 we are naturally expected to require 70-100% more food to support the increasing world population.
As the use of GM Crops may become essentially to farmers not only as an economically cheaper factor but to further sustain the growing population. As new biotechnology has generated the equivalent of “an extra 122 million soybeans, 237 million corn, 18 million tons of cotton lint and 6.6 million tons of canola” between 1996 and 2012 according to GM crops and food researcher Peter Barfort incharge of scientific research at independent universities.
This is evaluated that corn-based products would be priced 6% higher and soybean-based products would be 10% higher if GM crops were not grown.
To properly break down the spending further, In 2014 alone crops without the use of GMO labeling cost, was responsible for $5.3 billion in added income for farmers that used insect resistant (IR) genetically engineered corn specifically within the United States. The Herbicide tolerant (HT) typically found in canola crops contributed an additional $4.86 billion in revenue for farmers since 1996. Globally these GM crops technologies boosted the local United States farmers’ income an additional $46.6 billion since 1996. Overall since 1996, farmers around the world received $70 billion in increased income from GM crops which equivalates to an earned average of $3.59 for each dollar invested in GM crop seeds. As GM crops are undoubtedly proving to be essential to countries that wants to save money while feeding their growing population. However these reports above stem from USA companies that refuse to label their product which could potentially decline their revenue if labeling laws were enforced.
As the cost for labeling must also be considered; The one-time cost to American consumers associated with the Vermont G.M.O. labeling law could be as high as $3.8 billion, or $32 per household, according to a study funded by the Washington-based Corn Refiners Association. However many biotech companies try to surpass these rules by separating ingredients, reformulating foods and beverages to qualify as non-bioengineered, and testing for biotech content, which adds to the cost of retail products and in turn increase prices for consumers as well. For example, the estimated cost of switching all products covered in the Vermont law to non-bioengineered status could reach as high as $81.9 billion annually, or $1,050 per U.S. family.
The Center for Food Safety pointed to the Consumers Union concluding in September 2014 that the median cost of G.M.O. labeling was $2.30 per person per year. The Consumers Union said it did not take into account the assumption that companies would reformulate their products to contain only organic ingredients.
United kingdom is one of the many nations hesitate to approve farmers access to biotech seeds for agricultural purposes without use of labeling laws. Resulting in majority of livestock farmers to rely on international imports to supply their grain needs. As much as 70% of the nation total seeds are imported, which translated to 34 million tons of GM soy. This eats into the economic profits of United kingdom to transport, thoroughly check and regulated seeds to 30 billion annually according to EuropaBio. This loss does not take into account the 80% of UK consumers that persistently refuses to buy food that has come in contact with GMO without proper labeling laws. Although some companies maintain an ethical oriented focus by labeling GM crops this add a decline of potential revenue for the business and in turn the economy.
With the prices of both labeled and unlabeled gmo in mind Researcher Hartman’s down to earth statical study, Two-thirds of a 300 person survey believe GMO labeling should be mandatory. Two in five say they would be more likely to buy products that contained them if a food company was up front about explaining why they use them. Therefore even if companies decided to pay more money to inforce labeling laws due to moral reasons or economically chose not to since it is more profitable, consumers would still buy the product if they were just given the choice based on a label.
All things consider the most concerning economic issue overall is the six companies that control most of the GM foods market at the core level. Biotech companies like Monsanto, Dow, Dupont and Syngenta create GMO seeds, that are used to produce corn, wheat or soybeans crops that dominate the market and block out competition. This instantly creates a monopoly affect for local farmers as these 6 companies may raise prices while forcing the farmers to do the same. This leaves the average consumer unaware of the marked up price and is unknowingly paying higher prices, that can devastate the economy on a broader scale. Over 50% of these listed seed producers prohibit any independent research on the final crops as an effort to secure their profits and is considerably against laws that require labeling gmo.
As ethically biotech companies try to justify the non use of labels by complying with the Food and Drug Administration Law that only if the food derived from a GM source that had compositional differences which resulted in material changes. For example, when FDA learned a new canola oil had increased lauric acid content compared to original canola oil, they required the oil to be labeled “laurate canola oil.” Similarly, soybean oil containing higher levels of oleic acid than typical soybean oil must be labeled “high oleic soybean oil.”As the FDA does not require but instead encourages manufacturers to label their food by terms like “not genetically engineered,” or “not bioengineered.”
As this also becomes an ethical concern for consumers as well. Why do Biotech companies not allow their foods to be labeled? Is their product safe? What do they have to hide? Local shoppers ask anxiously. A frequent argument stated is consumers have the right to know what they are buying and demand labeling to be required if their food has come in contact with GMO. Nations like the United kingdom actually require food manufacturers to label products if their food has come in contact with more than 0.9% GM materials. These labeling law are highly favored by many consumers as proven in University of Hawaii Research in 2007 a survey indicated residents want choice. ‘…More than 90 percent of those surveyed supported the labeling of GM foods, 68 percent indicated that such labeling was needed, and 50 percent felt that not labeling GM food products was a violation of the consumer’s rights.”
Critics may declare GM affects a crop natural nutritional value or create allergens or toxins in the food, and as such require labels to alert the consumer. Although these claims are disputed by the FDA, many biotech companies try justifying non use of labels by illustrating patients who are suffering from diabetes and not capable of producing enough insulin on their own can benefit from GMO that can transfer other mammals like sheep and goat that contain necessary genetic information to produce insulin into humans.
Although this may seem like a simple solution, the long-term side effects are still undetermined as testing on humans is unethical which is why in 2014 a animals study was conducted by an independent researching company. It indicated a lab of test rats and several animals were fed by GM crops indicating serious health risk issues including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. As the scientific data also indicates that some of the animals exposed to these crops had even died as same or similar results may occur to humans.