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Did you know that up to sixty to seventy percent of all processed food in the United States include a genetically engineered ingredient? GMOs, or genetically modified ingredients are created by biotechnical procedures that allow for the alteration of seed’s or animal’s genetic material. By inserting or extracting certain genes from an organism, scientists and farmers can modify living structures to their advantage. Genetically modified foods are the answer to many of Earth’s problems regarding starvation and the lack of food resources.
GMOs benefit all of Earth’s society and will be humanity’s best chance of sustainable food for the future.
By the year 2050, the projected population of planet Earth is said to be around 9.7 billion people. Edward O. Wilson is an American biologist, naturalist, author, and theorist who has graduated from Harvard University and holds twenty-nine international and world-wide prizes in science and non-fiction writing. E. O. Wilson’s research has allowed him to calculate the approximate maximum population of planet Earth, his numbers ending up around ten billion people.
Wilson writes in his book The Future of Life that ‘If everyone agreed to become vegetarian, leaving little or nothing for livestock, the present 1.4 billion hectares of arable land (3.5 billion acres) would support about 10 billion people.’
However, it is likely to say that there is no way that 9.7 billion people will all give up on their omnivorous diet and become strictly vegetarian. This is why GMO products will be so vital to the survival of Earth and it’s inhabitants.
According to PG Economics, an organization in the UK that is a “Specialist provider of advisory & consultancy services to agriculture and other natural resource-based industries,” genetically engineered crops have increased the yield per acre. The statistics that PG Economics has gathered between the years of 1996 to 2007 show that India’s cotton production had an increase of fifty percent, Romania’s GE soybeans showed an increase of thirty-one percent, and Hawaii’s GM papayas had a increase of forty percent to name just a few of the hundreds of examples. By using genetically modified plants mankind may be able to push the limits of Earth’s maximum population.
Most crops that have their genes edited are modified in so that they are pesticide and herbicide resistant. As a result of this gene modification, the use of pesticides and and herbicides in farms has gone down. In an science article written by Jennifer Hsiao, a PhD in biological and biomedical science who graduated from Harvard, explained how crops have been gene edited to be “naturally” resistant to weeds and insects. “Plant-incorporated-pesticides (PIP) are pesticides that the plants themselves produce after genetic material has been added to them… An example of a PIP is the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) crop.” Bacillus thuringiensis is a naturally occuring bacteria in soil that makes specific proteins that target certain insects. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that “After a nearly 2-year long review process, EPA concluded that Bt products will not pose unreasonable risks to human health or the environment.”
Bt products include corn, potatoes, tomatoes, cotton, eggplants, and soybeans all of which are safe for human consumption and only target specific insects. University of California Davis (UC Davis) is a renowned school for their work in the agricultural field. In an article regarding the safety of GMO crops, stated that “In recent years a variety of safety studies were conducted specifically on native Bt proteins to show that they do not have characteristics of food allergens or toxins…The data shows that Bt proteins behave as would be expected of a dietary protein, are not structurally related to any known food allergen or protein toxin, and do not display any oral toxicity when administered at high doses.” In conclusion, GMO crops such as Bt do not harm humans nor the environment in which they are planted yet at the same time fight off unwanted pests and weeds naturally. By including pesticides into the genes of a plant farmers can spray stop spraying so much pesticides.
The excessive use of pesticides can also lead pesticide resistance which is when a plant adapts and is able to overcome the pesticide which then results in farmers spraying even more pesticides onto our food to keep bugs off. GMO crops keep of excessive amounts of pesticides from our food and cost less for farmers as they will not have the need to buy so much pesticide. This overall will bring up the quality of our plant based foods and at the same time will bring down the price as they are much cheaper to maintain.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), approximately “2.5 billion people, or a little over thirty percent of the world’s population live in drought conditions covering over about forty percent of Earth’s land surface.” Without a reliable and sustainable source of water it is impossible to grow food. The United Nations suggest that on average, 25,000 people die daily to starvation and the lack of water. Not only can GMOs require less use of pesticides, but they can also be altered to be less water consuming. One such GE plant is called DroughtGard and is created by Monsanto, “an global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.” Monsanto’s creation, DroughtGard is essentially a warning system that is built into the plant’s genes that tell it to conserve water.
Monsanto explains that DroughtGard works in an simple but efficient way, “The gene, cspB, acts as an RNA chaperone that allows the plants to realize the lack of water and adapt to stress. The gene helps the plant react more quickly to drought by slowing down its growth and conserve water. Sap flow collars and soil capacitance probes show that water is banked with DroughtGard Hybrids. Moisture remains in the ground, and is ‘banked’ for future growth needs.” By using simple strategies like this, instead of having plants die due to the lack of water, they will in a way go into hibernation and wait until they have enough water and nutrients to rebegin growing and producing crops again. This technique can allow for crops to continue producing food instead of simply dying off after not receiving enough water. Although a simple technique, this GMO crop could potentially save thousands of lives. However, not everyone believes that GMOs are the perfect solution, either do to ethical problems, or the fear of unknown side effects. Whatever the reasons be, not everyone believes that we should play with our food.
One example of an organization against GMOs is Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT), an “Internationally renowned journal, that publishes original research articles and reviews on toxic effects, in animals and humans.” FCT released a paper in which stated that “herbicide Roundup and Roundup-tolerant GM corn to cancer and premature death in rats.” After two years worth of testing these were FCT’s results, that GE corn which included Roundup caused cancer and an early death in rats. However, later on, ScienceDirect, “the world’s leading source for scientific, technical, and medical research.” Retracted the article from it’s website stating “Due to concerns about the paper, the journal’s editor reviewed the researchers’ raw data and the peer-review process.
They found the researchers had used too few rats, the specific strain of rats was prone to cancer, and the results were inconclusive.” FCT released an article with information that was not accurate so it was forced to be taken back and reviewed. In addition, Monsanto the company that produces GMO plants tests its own products on animals and insects to make sure that their product is safe so that nothing that is not meant to be harmed is hurt in any way. The American cancer Society also states that GMOs have not been found related to cancer in any way, “There is no proof at this time that the genetically modified foods that are now on the market are harmful to human health or that they would either increase or decrease cancer risk because of the added genes.”
Another big issue that is related to GMOs is it’s role in allergies. The basic principle of genetically editing an organism is in adding the genes of another species into a different kind of organism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Food allergies in children under 18 years of age have increased; from 3.4 percent between 1997 and 1999 to 5.1 percent between 2009 and 2011.” GMOs were first released to the public for consumption in 1994, so it seems to be that transgenic foods seem to be the cause of problem for the dramatic growth rate of allergies. However, Charles Xu, a Ph.D. in Biological and Biomedical Sciences program at Harvard University also did some research on the topic of food allergies and their relation to GMOs. Mr. Xu declares that after research, “The technology used for making GMO crops does not necessarily make us more vulnerable to allergies than conventional breeding.” This means that normal crops and transgenic crops are both just as equal to contain elements that certain people will be allergic to. Charles Xu additionally states that “Further development of technology might even enable us to remove the common allergens in our food.” So not only do GMO foods have no relationship to allergies at all, but eventually with time, GMOs may be able to solve all allergy problems.
Without the use of genetically modified organisms, planet Earth will not be able to provide sustain for it’s human inhabitants. In order to make room for more cultivable land, humans will be forced to mow down rainforests and other natural habitats to plant crops. Deforestation will furthermore contribute to global warming as trees consume the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and release clean oxygen. In addition to global warming, the price for foods will go up and the less fortunate people will likely be left to starve. Those in poverty who do not wish to starve will begin to rebel and will commit crimes in order to get the food that they need. Without GMOs, the world will become a polluted, impoverished, and corrupted place to live. Is it worth it? To satisfy the wishes of certain individuals in society simply because of a belief backed with whatsoever no evidence, we sacrifice our posterity a safe and prosperous planet to live on.
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