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Genetically Modified Organisms in Farming Essay

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Updated: Apr 9th, 2020

Introduction

Farming is one of the backbones of the US economy given the fact the country is the leading exporter of various agricultural products. This aspect was captured clearly in Whiteman’s poetry, as he noted, “through the ample open door of the peaceful country barn, a sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding; and haze, and vista, and the far horizon, fading away” (Whitman 78).

In this article, it is argued that the use of genetically modified organisms in farming should be supported since it helps in boosting productivity because of the soaring population.

A census conducted in the ministry of agriculture in 2007 revealed that at least two-billion farms were under agricultural production. The central region of the state boosts of farming, especially the Great Plains, where rearing of various breeds of animals and several plant types take place. Farmers in the country concentrate on the production of corns, turkeys, tomatoes, potatoes, and sunflower.

GMO Debate

Overgrazing and mono cropping was the major issue in the agricultural sector leading to soil erosion and environmental degradation. The issue of land use raised a heated debated and the ideas of Leopold claiming, “Central insight was that everything is connected” are valid since the agricultural sector was highly depended by the majority in the country (Leopold 265).

Colonialists had the capacity to produce more products since they utilized the oxen effectively, but it had an effect on the fertility of soil since deeper plough cuts allowed more contact between soil components and oxygen, causing nutrient depletion. Overgrazing never allowed soil to absorb adequate oxygen in order to sustain life.

In the mid 19th century, the country adopted scientific methods of farming leading to improved economic growth. The state had to formulate various laws to ensure sanity in agriculture, with the Morrill Act and the Hatch Act playing a critical role.

Baker noted in his writing that, “cities swelled, people talked frequently of the eastern megalopolis in the typically overheated prose of Time Magazine from 1966, a coruscating corridor of light, an unbroken, 450-mile-long conglomeration of humanity stretching from Boston to Washington” (Baker 377). This means people were interested in exploring new opportunities in farming in the states believed to support agriculture.

Therefore, the government had to move in to regulate the activities of farmers to ensure land use was in accordance with the law. The two bills facilitated the development of agricultural institutions of higher learning to enhance innovation. Currently, many farmers prefer genetically modified organisms due to their ability to grow rapidly.

However, a debate is ongoing on the viability of GMO products and the major concern is their impact on people’s health. This paper addresses the issues surrounding the manufacture and use of GMO products in the agricultural field.

Manufacture and usage of genetically modified organisms are in the rise in the country, but a controversy exists regarding their effects on the health of consumers. A controversy over the labeling, regulating, and prohibiting the supply of GMO foods exist and the major antagonists are biotechnology companies, government regulators, and a few scientists given the fact the products pose a diverse effects on the environment, farmers, and pesticide resistance.

Members of the public have been made to believe that GMOs are harmful to their health, but no scientific study supports the claim meaning foods obtained from genetic organisms have lesser risks just like the ones manufactured conventionally (Scatasta and Wesseler 244). Since researchers started engaging in studies to establish the effects of GMOs, documentation of a report confirming toxicity of the products is not yet out.

The law does not force companies producing GMOs to label their products, but the case is different in European countries. Those opposed to genetically manufacture products, such as the Organic Consumers Association and Greenpeace society, argue that regulatory bodies have been sleeping on the job because they have not yet identified the effects of these products even after receiving heavy funding from the government.

For some activists, GMO products have long-term effects even though they are not established and as such, they call on government regulators to insist on labeling. In his conclusion, Abbey noted that, “an observant reader might have noticed a lack of poke-in-the-ribs” (Abbey 413). This means the issue of GMO has always raised controversies in the country for many years.

From a medical perspective, opponents are of the view that consuming GMO foods exposes an individual to risks as opposed to utilizing farm products manufactured conventionally. In 2012, the American Association for the Advancement of Science posted in its website a statement claiming that foods made from GMO products have no risks when compared to others manufactured conventionally.

The American Medical Association and the National Academies of Sciences echoed these sentiments, as they both suggested that GMO foods do not have health effects and many studies confirm this assertion as well. The main risk of modifying a plant or animal species lies with the introduction of an antigen (Chen and Shelton 162). The studies going on in GMO testing centers focus on establishing whether the allergens have the capacity of altering the genetic composition of a specifies.

Regulation of genetically modified organisms in Europe is mandatory because allegations exist regarding the likelihood of the products to transmit dangerous compounds to consumers. The focus of the European Green Party and Greenpeace organization is to push the government to regulate the supply of such products in the market with claims that they affect people’s health significantly.

In their reports, organizations opposed to GMO products claim that allergens are likely to cause allergies in people leading to reactions to environmental conditions. In the United States, people are opposed to GMO goods because they cause allergic reactions. For the proponents of genetically modified organisms, the chances of introducing allergenic compounds or toxins to plants are minimal given the fact the process is scientific (Momaday 570).

Transgenic engineering of genes is known to have lesser impact as far as expression of genomes and metabolite levels are concerned. In other words, conventional breeding is likely to facilitate undirected mutagenic transmission. In fact, many studies confirm that conventional breeding has never been risk-free meaning it allows the transmission of toxic compounds.

In the United States and Europe, the kiwi fruit was introduced in early 1960s through conventional processes, but current studies prove that many people suffer from allergies because of consuming the products made from the fruit (Prudham and Morris 162).

Some studies support the claim that genetic modification could be employed effectively in removing allergens from foods hence reducing the risks of suffering from allergies. In 2003, a research undertaken on soybean revealed that genetically modified organisms do not have main allergens.

Opponents of GMO technology are concerned with testing since decisions do not consider the views of all other stakeholders meaning it is done without adequate consultation with the population and other concerned stakeholders. Companies are often quick to withdraw funding in case they realize that compounds are harmful to people’s health even before they are introduced in the market. The company was aware of the effects of nuts on people’s health and it went on to test the product for allergies (McHughen and Smyth 18).

The organization wanted to confirm whether serum reacts in any way with transgenic soy. Again, they tested the effects of the product on human skin and the results were positive meaning it causes allergy in people. Instead of communicating to relevant authorities appropriately, the company simply halted the program. In 2005, a similar case was reported when a study was conducted on the pest-resistant field pea that had been developed in Australia.

Animals utilize the product as a pasture crop. The test was positive meaning it had an effect on people’s health, as it caused allergy in mice. Just as the previous study, the program closed without giving a sufficient reason. Since various products have failed to pass validity test, many people are concerned with the free supply of GMO foods.

Government regulators approve most GMO products used as animal feeds, but businesspersons tend to exploit the opportunities to supply the products to the unsuspecting buyers locally and abroad leading to serious health problems.

On the other hand, opponents claim further that continued use of GMO products would affect breed diversity in the sense that fewer cultivars would be used (Doull and Greim 2075). Genetically modified products resist diseases, but if they fail, it would lead to overuse of agrichemicals, which is harmful to the environment.

Conclusion

According to the United Nations report, the future of US farming lies with the GMO technology because the world population is to hit ten billion in the next ninety years. The population increase is to exceed its target in fertile regions, including the United States and farming through GMO’s offers a perfect solution. However, diminishing agricultural fields and issues raised by environmentalists do not allow continuous clearance of forests to pave way for farming. Seeking an alternative seems the only solution in order to ensure sustainability.

Therefore, US farmers should be allowed to use genetically modified organisms to increase food production in the country. Clearance of forests is not an option towards food production because of issues to do with global warming. Scientific research suggest that continuous interference with nature would definitely lead to problems because rain seasons are likely to change and this would not go down well with farmers.

While opponents accuse GMO technology for causing a myriad of diseases, scientific studies are yet to prove the allegations meaning utilization of the technology should be encouraged. It is concluded that food security would be enhanced in case application of GMO technology is legalized in the country. Utilization of conventional agricultural methods would not serve the ever-increasing population.

Both opponents and supporters of GMO technology underscore the fact that the population increase calls on the government to think of alternative sources of food because the current sources are not adequate.

Works Cited

Abbey, Edward. “Polemic: Industrial Tourism and the National Parks”. American Earth: Environmental Writing since Thoreau. Ed. Bill McKibben and Albert Gore. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 2008. 413-434. Print.

Baker, Russell. “The Great Paver”. American Earth: Environmental writing since Thoreau. Ed. Bill McKibben and Albert Gore. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 2008. 359-379. Print.

Chen, Mao, and Anthony Shelton. “Insect-Resistant Genetically Modified Rice in China: From Research to Commercialization”. Annual Review of Entomology 56.1 (2011): 81–101. Print.

Doull, Gaylor, and Lovell Greim. “Report of an Expert Panel on the reanalysis by of a 90-day study conducted by Monsanto in support of the safety of a genetically modified corn variety (MON 863)”. Food Chem. Toxicology 45.11 (2007): 2073–2085. Print.

Leopold, Aldo. “From a Sand County Almanac”. American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau. Ed. Bill McKibben and Albert Gore. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 2008. 265-294. Print.

McHughen, Alan, and Stuart Smyth. “US Regulatory System for Genetically Modified Genetically Modified Organism (GMO), rDNA or Transgenic Crop Cultivars.” Plant Biotechnology Journal 6.1 (2007): 3-21. Print.

Momaday, Scott. “A First American Views His Land.” American Earth: Environmental Writing since Thoreau. Ed. Bill McKibben and Albert Gore. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 2008. 570-582. Print.

Prudham, Scott and Angela Morris. “Making the Market ‘Safe’ for GM Foods: The Case of the Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee”. Studies in Political Economy 78.1 (2006): 145–175. Print.

Scatasta, Sara, and Justus Wesseler. “Differentiating the consumer benefits from labeling of GM food products.” Agricultural Economics 37.2 (2007): 237-248. Print.

Whitman, Walt. Whitman: The Mystic Poets. Woodstock: Sky Light Paths Publication, 2004. Print.

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