One of the biggest challenges our world is facing today is creating enough food in order to sustain the current population. In order to achieve food security there must be sufficient food access, food availability and food use. This means that there must be enough food grown for everyone and must be handled in a way that every person can afford it. It also means the people must have sufficient quantities of food on a consistent basis.
Scientists, politicians and activists have all been working on solving this crisis.
Depending on whom you talk to, there are several solutions to food security. If one were to ask the CEO of Monsanto or another large agriculture corporation, they would point their fingers towards GMOs saying that they are the only available solution to solve the food security crisis. On the other hand, most environmentalists would argue that GMOs are hurting our earth and our people.
These environmentalists would argue that sustainable farming and crop diversity are the answer or that the problem is food distribution and can be changed by the government through new food distribution policies.
The most controversial and most argued about answer to food insecurity is the debate of GMOs. There are pros and cons of GMOs but in the end I believe they do more harm than good.
When GMO’s were first introduced they seemed to be the miraculous “cure” for global starvation. When I first heard about GMO’s I could not understand why people were against them.
If we genetically modified all of our crops, then we could feed everyone. Listening to Dr. Kevin Folta’s video on GMO’s made it even harder for me to argue against them. Folta (2012) points out that a lot of the harm done from GMOs is done not from GMOs themselves but from Monsanto and other big agriculture corporations. He says that genetically modifying organisms is scientific technology that farmers have been using for years. Hearing this I felt a little more safe. It is easier for me to hate an “evil” corporation than to hate kindly scientists who are hear to help.
I think this is the reaction Folta wanted to elicit from his audience. He wanted to direct the blame somewhere else and have the public feel like he and other scientists are only trying their best. I start to question Folta and lose his trust when he insults environmental activists. Kevin Folta (2012) says, “We know a lot about it. We understand it, we know it inside and out. So it doesn’t scare us”. In this statement Folta is implying that the activists against GMOs have not done their research and blindly are following a cause. While this may be the case for some people, a lot of activists are scientists themselves and even more are very well read and very informed on the situation.
Jon Etine (2013) argues similarly that uninformed people who are claiming not enough studies had been done on GMOs are the people fueling the anti-GMO movement. This information is conflicting because most of what I’ve read are scientists talking about many studies that have been done that prove GMOs are bad for people and the environment. A link to the Genetic Literacy Project in Etine’s article made me revaluate his article as a little more credible than I previously had thought.
The Genetic Literacy Project (2013) wrote an article about GMOs and had a very helpful diagram about what scientists from each country had to say about GMOs. According to this chart all countries say that based on the last 20 years GMOs have no serious side effects. This only leaves me wondering what if the effects are more long term than we realize? It seemed that the short term was very much emphasized in the study. The scientists also didn’t list positive things about GMOs, instead they just said they were fairly safe to eat. In the United States, our problem is not having enough food. Our problem is distribution. So we therefore don’t really need GMOs in our country.
Reading pro GMO articles makes me uncomfortable because it leads me to question beliefs that I have held strong over the years. Reading Anti-GMO articles made more confident in my beliefs and gave me solid support to back up my opinions. Although, it is still disconcerting how conflicting GMO and Non-GMO arguments are. They both have scientific studies backing them up and yet these studies completely conflict. It is hard to tell whom to believe in this situation. Seeing the emotional response of the farmers and people of the Philippines (2013) elicits a strong emotional response that combats all of the studies pro GMO activists point to.
These people have been taken advantage of and they and their families are ailing because of GMOs. Unlike studies, these people are clearly not lying, nor were they paid off. GMO activists argue that we need GMOs to provide enough food for the poor but in the end it is those in developing countries that can not afford GMOs. Another problem is that, as seen in the Philippines video (2013) as well as other sources, many of these communities who are in poverty do not want to grow GMOs because it will destroy a crop that has been important to their culture for years and years (Shiva, 2012).
A few more negative effects of GMOs are health hazards and environmental hazards. Monsanto injects their cows with a genetically produced growth hormone that has proven to significantly raise the chance of breast cancer (Kahn, 2012). In addition, GMOs can also ignite allergies in unsuspecting people if they unknowingly eat a product that has been injected with a gene from a product they are allergic to (Kahn, 2012). The amount of pesticides needed to grow GMOs ends up having the side effect of creating “super bugs” and “super weeds” that are resistant to pesticides. It’s hard to read about the side effects of GMO’s in our health and environment because it is hard to know what is a GMO and what is not. That is why it needs to be labeled. The counter argument is that no one would buy GMOs and their market would go down is Americans knew what was and what was not a GMO.
If we are going to apply a capitalist economy to every other part of our society than we have to stick with it even when we are talking about a giant, wealthy corporation. We need to know which companies and products we want to support.
Before this section on agriculture I knew very little about GMOs, but I stayed away from them because I had read somewhere that they were bad. As I grow up I have learned that situations are not always so bad or good, black or white. The same goes for GMOs. It is pretty hard to see if GMOs are a good or bad thing to have in our society. I believe that we do not need them and they harm our earth and us. I also understand that there are starving people across the world and for some GMOs may be the miracle answer we need. For now I will try to stay GMO free and look skeptically at every report I read on both sides of the GMO issue.