The humanity has entered the era of genetically modified food long ago. However, the consumption of genetically “mutated” products is a debatable issue that has thousands of opponents around the globe. Many people emphasize the idea that genetically modified goods should be banned because of hazardous impacts on heath. On the contrary, some proponents assure that production and consumption of these foods lead to positive impacts on health, environment, and economic situation of many countries. Regardless of numerous controversies, the given paper aims to determine, review, and assess the disadvantages of genetically modified products.
According to the definition of this term, genetically modified products may be referred to as mutated foods that are produced with the help of genetic engineering techniques. Genetic engineering methods give one a chance to change or add new features and traits to the product. Taking into account the historical perspective, it should be noted that commercial distribution of food with GMO started as early as 1994. Moreover, such products as corn, potato, canola, and soybean are the most widespread crops that include GMO (Azadi and Ho 160).
The researchers claim that international communities should impose a legal ban on creation, production, and selling of genetically modified products because of scientific, social, environmental, and health reasons. According to the first argument in favor of the international ban on genetically modified products, safety of these goods is not always properly tested because of little government control. Despite the attempts of many countries to control and check the process of production, GMO goods face the lack of labeling and transparency. At present, 64 countries in Europe and Asia require specific labeling of GM goods. On the contrary, the USA and Canada that are the largest producers of GM products in the world market do not impose harsh sanctions on producers of these goods. Despite voluntary labeling, all countries without exception are obliged to mark “mutated products” in case the content level of genetic modifications exceeds 1% (Azadi and Ho 160).
Moreover, production and distribution of genetically modified goods harm biological biodiversity that primarily involves flora and fauna. Industrial farmers that grow genetically modified crops contribute to monoculturization as the majority of GM farmers are interested in single plant species (Azadi and Ho 161). What is more, despite biodiversity of plants, many species of insects, including bees and butterflies, are affected. To put it simply, populations of honeybees and rare species of butterflies have drastically declined for the last three decades. Thus, production of genetically modified crops leads to decreased amounts of amphibians, soil organisms, birds, and, finally, representatives of marine ecosystems. Furthermore, one of the recent studies published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry claims that systematic planting of GM crops will endanger traditional varieties of plants that were created by nature (Azadi and Ho 161).
In addition, professionals in the sphere of medicine emphasize that GM products may cause adverse health effects in humans (Walia). For instance, numerous researches that were conducted by Canadian specialists prove that multiple GMO toxins were detected in blood of pregnant women and their fetuses. Thus, the research results provide reliable data that GMO chemicals negatively influence nutrition, toxicology, and reproduction processes of females. Moreover, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides information that GM goods contribute to the progression of gluten-related as well as numerous autoimmune disorders. According to the scientific study that was published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, GM products stimulate the development of birth problems, intellectual defects, and cancer tumors. Finally, it is important to emphasize that genetically modified foods may cause health-threatening and lethal side effects (Walia).
Taking into consideration the economic perspective of the problem, it is believed that production and distribution of genetically modified goods threaten the prosperity of farming and organic crops in developing countries. Because of high price of GM seeds, many farmers around the globe, especially in India, prefer conventional plants. Furthermore, because of the availability of GM products, farmers that grow conventional crops are unable to settle debts because they fail to sell their harvests. In addition, only a few giant companies in agricultural sector that produce and sell GMO goods “rule the world”. Consequently, small scale farmers around the globe, especially in developing countries, bear severe consequences. Moreover, some researchers claim that the World Trade Organization encourages farmers to continue such kind of business as it does nothing to cover their losses (Azadi and Ho 162).
As a result, having analyzed the negative effects of genetically modified organisms on human health, environment, and agricultural sector, it is possible to summarize that proliferation of genetic modification techniques includes the following disadvantages:
- degrading quality of food;
- strong resistance to numerous antibiotics;
- increased toxicity;
- possible creation of unpredictable viruses and toxic chemicals;
- ethnical and cultural concerns;
- lack of guarantees with regard to safety of GM foods because of absence of labeling;
- endangered species of plants, animals, birds, and insects;
- increased health risks;
- disagreements among organic and conventional farmers;
- significant fear of unknown impacts;
- threatened biological diversity;
- ignorance of governments about long-term consequences of genetically modified foods (Azadi and Ho 162).
The proponents of genetically modified crops, vegetables, and fruit emphasize that these foods have the capacity to save the lives of millions of famished people (Pispini 38). Moreover, they are convinced that genetic engineering techniques have positive environmental, economic, and medical effects. For instance, genetically modified crops, compared to traditional ones, are characterized by numerous benefits. Firstly, it has been proven that GM crops have not only better taste but also the increased quality. Secondly, these types of crops require small amounts of pesticides as they have powerful “immune system” to various diseases, viruses, and herbicides. Thirdly, the results of experiments prove that these goods are more economically viable as they may be transported at extremely long distances because of the resistance to spoilage. Finally, these non-traditional crops may be planted and grown on the territories that are characterized by infertile soil, water scarcities, and many other disadvantageous climatic conditions (Pispini 38). Pest and cold resistance as well as so-called herbicide tolerance are included in the list of benefits of genetically mutated foods as well.
Moreover, many researchers emphasize the idea that GM foods may solve the problem of malnutrition. For example, growth of rice supplemented with additional vitamins and minerals may lessen the problem of global impoverishment that is considered to be an urgent problem in countries of the third world. Therefore, until nowadays, medical experts have not succeeded in finding cure from some lethal diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and many other (Pispini 38). Furthermore, numerous vaccines are extremely costly to produce and require specialized storage conditions. Scientists are currently working to create effective and relatively cheap vaccines from tomatoes and potatoes. These types of vaccines and drugs, as researchers assume, will be more transportable as well as much easier to store and administer (Pispini 38).
Having analyzed the nature of genetically modified foods, its benefits and disadvantages, it can be concluded that despite several advantages of genetically mutated products that involve crops, vegetables, and fruit, genetic modifications should be banned as there are significant amounts of traditional and natural alternatives that do not have unpredictable consequences for human health, economic situation, environment, and agricultural sector. Safety and reliability of genetically modified food is open to question because of insufficient testing and lack of labeling. It is believed that resources of nature are useful and abundant enough in order to supply the humanity with traditional food and medicine. Genetically mutated foods should take a back seat as natural resources are actually lying around on the surface, and that is why no one, nowhere, as well as at no time should starve.