Genetically modified food has become a controversial topic in the current society. According to Marchant (75), the world has been experiencing changes in weather patterns due to issues of global warming. As a result of this, agriculture has been massively affected. On the other hand, the world population is constantly on the rise.
The number of those who practice agriculture is also decreasing. This is because people move to towns to get employed in large manufacturing companies or the retailers. This means that there is an increased pressure on the farmers to come up with a solution for this challenging situation. According to Sateesh (87), the solution that farmers were looking form came at last with the help of advanced technology.
Genetically modified organisms were proven to be more productive than natural products. Genetically modified plants were more resistant to drought and could produce more than the natural plants. Genetically modified animals took much shorter time to mature, and those that produce milk would be yielding more milk when the breed is genetically modified. This was a breakthrough discovery in the field of agriculture. Farmers were given a solution to the problem of increasing productivity of their crops.
The society welcomed the breakthrough for it was convinced of having a reliable source of food throughout the year at affordable prices. Many members of the society considered this invention as the best way through which the food security would be assured. This was till it was discovered that genetically modified food could have a negative effect on the human being when consumed. According to Weiss (46), genetically modified foods may have an effect on the genetics of a human being.
The effect may not be exhibited immediately. It may take years of regular consumption of genetically modified food for the effect to be seen. In some instances, the effect may be witnessed on the children of the regular consumers of genetically modified food. People consuming this product should, therefore, be aware of these consequences. They should be informed every time they purchase genetically modified food, that the product is not natural.
Arguments against Labeling of Genetically Modified Food
There has been a strong argument against labeling of the genetically modified foods. There is a section of the society that has come out strongly to oppose any move that would compel manufacturers to label their products. The leading defenders of lack of labeling genetically products are the manufacturers. Manufacturers have come out to reject the clarion call that all the genetically products should be clearly labeled before they are put on sale. These manufacturers have cited the cost of the labeling process as being high.
These manufacturers believe that labeling genetically modified food would force the prices to increase their prices as a way of passing the cost to the customer. According to Davida (34), this argument has always been supported by some members of the public who are the consumers. According to this scholar, members of the public are always comfortable with the idea of not labeling the genetically modified food.
They share the idea of the producers that such processes would always increase the cost of the product which they are not ready to pay. It is a fact that through genetically modified foods, the price of food has gone down considerably. The consumers have come to appreciate the positive impact that genetically modified food has brought into their lives ever since it was discovered.
A section of the society still believes that genetically modified foods are as safe as other naturally grown products. According to Weiss (124), some scientists have been advocating for the use of genetically modified food not only because it is cheap to produce, but also because it is a safe product.
This argument has seen a section of society reject the idea of labeling genetically modified food. They argue that labeling of the genetically modified food would raise unnecessary concern within the society. As such, they believe that the products should not be labeled. Sateesh (87) says that labeling of the genetically modified foods will be like condemning these products in the market for no good reason.
This scholar says that the move will not act as an attraction of customers towards the product but a repellant. This scholar says that the tag will act as a warning that is given to the customers saying that they should be duly informed that the product they are purchasing is not a normal product. The message will be saying that the product has abnormal genes that may have a direct negative impact on their lives. Customers will always shy away from such products. They will consider them unfit for consumption.
The producers of such products will, therefore, be driven out of the market. This comes with serious consequences to the technological inventions and innovations in the market. The scientists who were involved in this technology will be forced to stop further exploration in this field because of public rejection.
With the current trend, those who are opposed to labeling of this product say that the world population will be double the current population. This will have a massive consequence on food production. With this huge population, these people argue that it is only genetically modified foods that can sustain them. When genetically modified foods are discriminated against, and the technology is brought to its knees, there will emerge a serious food problem in the society in the near future.
These people, therefore, insists that the society should learn to appreciate the importance of this technology in food production. Such unnecessary and discriminatory policies as labeling of the genetically modified foods should be stopped in order to help advance this technology and assure the population of constant and reliable food production.
Arguments in Support of Labeling of Genetically Modified Food
Labeling of the genetically modified food should not be an issue that raises controversy the way it does. The society has lived in a transparent manner in terms of what we eat ever since the modernization age. When one walks into a hotel, one would order a simple meal like beans and rice for lunch.
This individual would not expect to be given meat pie and rice, or any other product that is not paid for. According to Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938, all food substances should be labeled (Nelson 76). This Act demands that all food substances should have all the ingredients labeled so that the consumers would know what they are purchasing before they can consume the product.
This Act is supported by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 which demands of labeling of all food ingredients. These are laws observed within the United States of America. These laws have not been changed. Genetically modified foods have a different genetic modification from the normal products. This is a substantial reason that should make them be labeled differently from other products.
The law should not be applied selectively, and neither should it be undermined. When a manufacturer of bread adds eggs to his or her bread and fails to indicate that the bread has eggs as one of the ingredients, such a person would be liable for prosecution. The courts would send him or her to prison for several years for contravening the law. Those who produce genetically modified food should also be subjected to the same law because they are committing the same crime. The law should be fairly administered.
A section of the scientists has reported that genetically modified food have negative consequences that are still unknown to them. These scientists argue that genetically modified foods contain some genes which have some serious negative consequences on the health of consumers.
These scientists have embarked on a massive research to try and unearth some of the consequences of genetically modified foods on people. While these researchers are still working on this issue, the society should be given a choice to decide on whether they will consume genetically modified food or not. The choice can also be made when the products are labeled. Labeling of the products helps ensure that a consumer will be aware that a given food substance is genetically produced while others are not.
Although it has been difficult to determine the effect of genetically modified food, recent research of the effect of genetically modified food has shown a worrying trend that this food have on animals. The study, which was conducted on rats, showed that the genetically modified foods cause sterility on rats after three generations. This shows that when the first generation consumes genetically modified food, they are not affected by it and, therefore, shall reproduce normally.
The second generation will also be safe. In the third generation, reproduction will be impossible because the genetics of this organization in the third generation shall have been massively affected. Genetically modified foods were introduced about 20 years ago. This means that the current population is still in the first generation. They may not feel the effect of genetically modified food. Their children who will be the second generation may also not have problems with reproduction.
The problem will start in the third generation, when we are to base the reasoning on the results that these scientists have given (Okumu 78). This is enough reason to inform consumers that the product they are consuming is genetically modified. If the consumer is to base his or her reasoning on the recent research reports, then he or she would try avoiding these products. This can only be possible if the products are clearly labeled.
One of the main reasons why consumers like their food labeled is because of the nutrition they get from these foods. There are consumers who are under medication. Such consumers would have prescribed nutrients that should be gotten from some foods. Such individuals would always rely on labeling of the ingredients in order to ascertain the quality of food eaten.
This can only be possible if they are given all the ingredients of their food on the label. Failure to do this will be condemning them. This may affect them negatively. This will be contravening the law which demands that all the genetically modified foods should be labeled.
Research has also shown that genetically modified foods come with an allergy to the animals. They attribute this to the introduction of foreign proteins in the genetically modified food. This may explain the constant rise in allergy problems among the American populace. The recent rise in immune disorders can possibly be attributed to consumption of genetically modified foods. For the purpose of clarity, it would be important to label these genetically modified foods so that the consumer can choose whether to purchase these products or not.
According to Sateesh (92), it is a fact that the use of pesticide has increased with the introduction of the genetically modified foods. According to this scholar, scientists have proven beyond any doubt that when using genetically modified crops, there should be an increase in the use of pesticides in order to protect the crops.
This is because these crops are prone to some forms of pests. In order to avoid pest destruction, there has to be a constant use of pest. The pesticides are not only necessary when the crop is at the farm. The pesticide should also be in use when the crop is in the store waiting for the delivery to the consumer. This means that a consumer will be buying a product that has a heavy presence of pesticide. Pesticides are chemicals meant to kill pests. In its simplest definition, pesticides are poisons.
When a consumer buys such a poisonous product, it needs no scientific genius to know that the effect will be massively destructive. The consumer may not realize this instantly (Rudisill 220). This is because he or she will be consuming small quantities of the poison every time he eats the product. When one takes the poison in small quantities consistently, and for a long time, it will bring out its effect. In most of the cases, it is always too late to help such an individual. The poison shall have taken its toll on him or her.
Most of the European countries have genetically modified crops in their countries. They cite the negative impact that genetically modified crops have on the health of consumers. France for instance, has banned growing of genetically modified crops because of the possible cross pollination.
The genetically modified crops would cross pollinate with the non-GMO plants. This will make the final product have the effects of the GMO. For this reason, the governments of most of the European countries have banned the use of genetically modified crops. In the United States, the treatment is very different. The government has not issued an official ban on the sale of, or growing the genetically modified crops.
This is because of the democracy that the government feels that the farmers should be allowed. However, this genetically modified food should be clearly labeled so that one would be aware. If these European countries could issue a total ban on genetically modified crops, and their sale, then the citizens of the United States should have at least some right to know the products that are genetically produced. This would give them the freedom to make the choice of either consuming the products or not.
The involvement of Monsanto Company in the opposition to the move to label the genetically modified foods leaves a lot to be desired. According to Nelson (87), this company is known for its self interest and the need to reap maximally from the public without giving any attention to the demands of the public. This scholar reports that Monsanto was on the front line trying to fight farmers who were not willing to move the GMO way.
This was because they were the leading sellers of the genetically modified seeds to the farmers. To them, those farmers that were reluctant in adopting the new technology were dragging food production in this country. In essence, this company was fighting these farmers because of its own selfish interests. This scholar also brings back the memory of this firm assuring the public of the safety of Agent Orange and DDT as safe products that could be used as household items (Lenaola 46).
Given the fact that at that time it had won the trust of the public, the American public was convinced that these products were safe for use domestically. Monsanto was then considered as one of the companies that were determined to transform the society positively through innovation and inventions in the field of agriculture. This trust did eliminate any doubt that the public could have on the use of the two products which then became common household items.
After a long period of over one year, scientists would later discover that these products were not safe for domestic use. This was after the public had been massively affected, and there was an increase in issues related to health among the heaviest users of this product. This was an unethical behavior exhibited by this firm. There was no direct heavy consequence that the government laid on this firm even after it was confirmed that it had misled the public and caused health complications on some.
Lastly, ethics demands that when in the market, transparency is of utmost importance. It is important to ensure that all the products sold to the public are of known ingredients and from known sources.
When selling food substance to the public, Weirich (114) says that one should realize the fact that this food will have a direct effect on his or her health. The government may not have banned the sale of genetically modified crops in this country. However, there are some individuals who strongly believe that they cannot consume genetically modified foods.
It would be fair to inform such individuals through labeling, that these are genetically modified products. Such an individual would make a personal decision on whether to consume this product or not. It is also intriguing why the producers of genetically modified crops are strongly opposing the need to label their products, while at the same time insisting that they are safe. If they are safe as they proclaim, then let them be labeled.
There has been a massive debate as to whether or not genetically modified foods should be labeled or not. The proponents and opponents of this move have given their reasons with equal force. However, the world of today demands that ethics should be maintained. Revealing the ingredients of food products is one such ethical requirement. Before one eats a given food, he or she should know all the ingredients. For this reason, all the genetically modified foods should be labeled clearly.
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Lenaola, Valorie. “The Need to Label Genetically Modified Food.” The Journal of Nutrition 35.1 (2008): 37-56. Print.
Marchant, Gary. Thwarting Consumer Choice: The Case against Mandatory Labeling for Genetically Modified Foods. Washington: AEI Press, 2010. Print.
Nelson, Gerald. Genetically Modified Organisms in Agriculture: Economics and Politics. San Diego: Academic Press, 2001. Print.
Okumu, Paul. “Labeling Genetically Modified Food.” The Philosophical and Legal Debate. 56.2 (2007): 26-79. Print.
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Sateesh, Macbeth. Bioethics and Biosafety. New Delhi: I.K International Pub. House, 2008. Print.
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Weiss, Edith. Reconciling Environment and Trade. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2008. Print.