The topic of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their uses in the food industry is highly controversial today. The so-called GMO debate involves a decades-long dispute between the proponents of new technology in crop cultivation and those claiming GMO foods to be unsafe and harmful to both consumers and the environment. Due to research data inconsistencies, GMO foods seem to be neither good nor bad, but the entire issue can still be positive for society because of new research opportunities.
In the first place, it is difficult to consider GMO foods as a good innovation since some of their alleged benefits have to deal with suggestions instead of solid scientific evidence. For instance, when reviewing the positive effects of GMO crops, such as pest and disease resistance, modern researchers imply that biologists are still working to achieve the desired effects (Divyadharsini 394). In other words, the hypotheses concerning GMO crops’ better survivability and pest resistance are numerous, but there are not many studies to conduct such comparisons and demonstrate the difference. Therefore, not all popular statements about GMO foods’ improved physical characteristics are supported by effective research.
Another reason why GMO foods are not necessarily good is the presence of scientific studies that demonstrate links between the consumption of such products and adverse health outcomes. Thus, the study by Seralini et al. dated 2012 discusses the long-term toxicity of GM maize in rats. It claims that animals consuming this product face increased risks of “severe organ damage, tumors, and premature death” (Divyadharsini 394). Other studies in mice samples have found out that the process of GM crops’ creation involves the risks of unintended disruptions and changes in gene structure (Divyadharsini 394). Some of these changes, such as the appearance of allergens, can be supposed to threaten human health (Divyadharsini 394). Also, it is not accurate to regard GMO foods as an inherently good invention since their ability to produce toxic substances is well-documented. As an example, the study by Hall and Moran dated 2014 shows that GM potatoes that are bred to improve resistance to plant diseases are likely to produce abnormal amounts of glycol-alkaloid (Alotaibi 52). With that in mind, some research reports raise concerns related to the safety of GMO foods.
Despite the presence of research results that negatively evaluate GMO foods’ safety, it is not valid to regard such alimentary products as bad and nullify their potential beneficial effects. First of all, although some studies provide facts to argue against GMO foods, there is no evidence that genetic modification involves more safety risks than traditional plant breeding (MacDonald and Whellams 185). Instead, in 2010, after ten years of research, the European Commission reported that GM technologies in food production were not “per se riskier” compared to conventional approaches to crop breeding (Qaim and Kouser 1). Therefore, it is not perfectly accurate to associate GMO foods with persistent health risks and threats.
The next factor that makes demonizing GMO foods a headlong and ill-considered decision is related to diversity and significant differences between particular GM plants. As Sánchez and Parrott felicitously remark, GM crops are mistakenly regarded as one large group too often, and the fact that particular GM products are greatly different from each other is ignored (1227). At the same time, there are opinions that anti-GMO works do not go unnoticed and contribute to public hysteria, whereas the studies that do not report GMO-related concerns remain unnoticed (Sánchez and Parrott 1227). Additionally, anti-GMO studies with small samples are likely to distort general trends. For instance, billions of animals have consumed GM food, but there are no obvious changes peculiar to animal health, behaviors, and so on (Sánchez and Parrott 1233). Taking the abovementioned details into account, it is clear that declaring GMO foods bad would involve making unjustified generalizations.
Although it may seem to be neutral, the issue of GMOs is likely to impact our society positively. Firstly, the development of GM technology allows us to better understand the problems surrounding conventional approaches to plant breeding. For instance, the anti-GMO hysteria led to studies that encouraged society to recognize food safety risks associated with non-GMO products (Qaim and Kouser 1). Secondly, the core idea of GMO foods is linked with ensuring the stability of food supplies and satisfying the world’s growing food demand (Qaim and Kouser 1). In isolation from the strategy’s actual effectiveness, the presence of GMO foods and these ambitious goals is likely to attract more attention to the problem of starvation and encourage new research.
To move further as a society and contribute to further enrichment and development of science, people are to continue studying GMO foods and experimenting with GMO technology in different ways. Despite controversies, the existence of GMO technology inspires ambitious plans aimed at solving the problem of underutilized crops (Roy 246). Persistent experiments and new large-scale and long-term studies will help to finally dismantle myths about such foods’ safety risks or acknowledge mistakes and improve approaches to plant breeding.
To sum it up, GMOs are still seen as a controversial topic despite decades of research. Many GMO foods’ benefits are not evident on a practical level or even contradict modern studies, which is why calling GMOs good is not the best option. However, claiming GMO foods to be bad involves making unnecessary generalizations and ignoring research-based responses to anti-GMO studies. Overall, due to new research opportunities and the problem’s links with socially important topics, the issue can positively impact modern society.
Alotaibi, Khalid Hamdan. “Globalization of Genetically Modified Foods and Their Effect on Human Health.” International Journal of Advanced Research in Biological Sciences, vol. 4, no. 11, 2017, pp. 49-54.
Divyadharsini, V. “Genetically Modified Foods – A Review.” Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology, vol. 7, no. 3, 2014, pp. 392-395. ProQuest, Web.
MacDonald, Chris, and Melissa Whellams. “Corporate Decisions about Labelling Genetically Modified Foods.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 75, no. 2, 2007, pp. 181-189. ProQuest, Web.
Qaim, Matin, and Shahzad Kouser. “Genetically Modified Crops and Food Security.” PloS One, vol. 8, no. 6, 2013, pp. 1-7.
Roy, Darbeshwar. Breeding of Fruit Crops. Alpha Science International, 2018. ProQuest, Web.
Sánchez, Miguel A., and Wayne A. Parrott. “Characterization of Scientific Studies Usually Cited as Evidence of Adverse Effects of GM Food/Feed.” Plant Biotechnology Journal, vol. 15, no. 10, 2017, pp. 1227-1234.