Should the government increase its GMO agriculture?
While GMOs’ use in agriculture has gradually increased over the years, many wonder how beneficial they truly are to both humans and the environment
Rise of the Issue
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are those that have been genetically engineered to have the characteristics of plants desired for consumption while making production easier and safer. Usually, this is seen in plants that appear and taste like non-GMOs, but better protect against bacteria, viruses, and pests. Those in the scientific and medical fields, as well as citizens at large, have vastly differing views on GMOs.
Those in favor of increased GMO production point out that the plants have all the same characteristics of their non-GMO counterparts while allowing production to be easier. Notably, proponents point out that GMOs can be indispensable to ending world hunger because food is able to be produced and transported easier than ever before.
Those against increasing GMO agricultural production point out that GMOs can lead to superbugs or pesticide-resistant pests. They also argue that GMOs contain chemicals and compounds whose negative consequences on the human body are yet unknown.
Genetic Engineering is Discovered
Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen discover genetic engineering by placing DNA from one bacteria into another.
FDA Approves First GMO Product
Insulin to treat diabetes became the first GMO product to be approved by the FDA.
The Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology is Established
The FDA, EPA, and USDA work together to develop a set of standards to regulate the safety and production of GMOs.
The FDA Adopts Rules Regarding GMO Plants
An FDA policy is adopted that requires GMO plants to be held to the same standard as those traditionally grown and bred.
First GMO Produce Becomes Available
GMO tomatoes, soybeans, cotton, corn, and papayas begin to be produced through genetic engineering and available to customers.
FDA Approves First Genetically Modified Animal
A genetically engineered salmon becomes the first animal approved for use as food.
Those in favor of production of GMOs say they are safe and can be effective at eradicating hunger, while opponents say that GMOs have only been created too recently to see the full picture of its effects.
Those in favor say GMO foods are just as healthy as non-GMO foods, while opponents say the chemicals found can be harmful to humans.
Proponents say that the negative effect on the environment is minimal, while opponents say nature was designed to work in its own way and rhythm, and human tinkering can mess up entire ecosystems.
GMOs use fewer chemicals in their production than non-GMO foods.
Because GMOs are designed to ward off insects and weeds, there is no need for pesticides and other chemicals often used in the production of food and agricultural resources.
GMOs are as healthy are non-GMO food.
GMO foods have almost entirely the same makeup as non-GMO foods, and are therefore considered by many to be just as beneficial to the human diet.
World hunger can be eradicated by implementing GMO food production.
GMOs allow plants to be produced quicker and more efficiently, which means food can be made accessible to regions of the world that would normally suffer from food insecurity.
Experts hold GMOs to the same standard as non-GMO foods.
GMOs have been produced since the 1990s and have had to comply with strict standards.
Growing GMOs can lessen the use of pesticides and lower carbon emissions.
Because GMOs can be genetically engineered to not require pesticide to be sprayed, they not only lower the level of pesticide poured in the environment, but also the level of carbon emissions that a plane or a tractor would produce while spraying.
Chemicals in GMOs can harm the environment.
The environment has been finely tuned to operate the way it does. By introducing GMOs into it, biospheres and ecosystems can be changed in ways we do not know.
There are alternatives to GMOs that can help alleviate world hunger.
Nonprofits and NGOs are researching plants and the microorganisms that surround them to learn how to enhance the function and growth of plants that do not involve genetic engineering.
GMOs can contaminate other fields used for non-GMO foods.
GMO crops still reproduce through pollination, like non-GMO foods. Coupled with the fact that GMO and non-GMO foods are grown in close proximity to one another, cross-pollination can occur.
Superbugs can be created by GMOs.
Insects adapt and evolve like any other animal, so when GMOs are introduced into their ecosystem, they adapt to become resilient to the chemicals used in the production of GMOs.
The long-term effects of GMOs are unknown.
GMO food production only dates back to the 1990s, which means there has been little to no study done on what the long-term effects of GMO foods might have on humans over the course of a few decades.