Should there be greater regulation of GMO’s?

[ By on April 26, 2016 ]

Just like Dr. Frankenstein lost control of his creation, the danger of GMOs, or “frankenfood,” once they are produced is that they can reproduce in possibly harmful ways for the humans who created them or for the rest of the environment. As technology advances, such as CRISPR, it has become easier to genetically modify organisms. With this increase in GMO’s, we are able to feed more and more people (even though there are still many countries where people are starving). GMO’s are also beneficial in that we are able to insert genes and create plants that are resistant to weeds, insects, and some diseases. We can also produce organisms that have a longer shelf life, can grow in harsher conditions, and contain certain nutrients. However,do these practical consequences of GMO’s outweigh the fact that there are potential dangers in modifying the genomes of other organisms? And, do humans really have the right to modify their environments in this way? In comparison to using technology to produce more crops, actually changing the DNA of organisms takes mastering and controlling the natural world to a whole other level. Is it ethical for us to abuse our power and alter the genetic make-up of an organism solely for our own benefit?
In ecosystems, organisms depend on each other, and so if we modify one plant, we have to consider the effects that our actions will have on the rest of the ecological community. One of the scariest aspects of the increase of GMO’s is the unknown impact that they will have on people’s health and on the environment. There are some cases where people have had allergic reactions after eating a GMO crop. This is just one example of the many, mostly unknown, detrimental effects of eating GMO’s. In addition, since GMO’s are relatively new, we do not know the long-term effects that they can have on our environment and ourselves. This uncertainty is daunting, and there should be more research done before we are allowed to eat GMO’s. Lastly, we must consider a situation in which someone produces something that they should not have: e.g. an aggressive weed that will spread everywhere and ruin farmers’ crops. Wouldn’t this weed do the opposite of what GMO’s were created to do (increase food to feed more people)? Thus, while GMO’s may have some benefits, there is too much uncertainty in their potential dangers for their widespread use. The government or FDA should regulate the use of GMO’s, and more research should be done in order to ensure, as much as possible, that people and the environment are safe.

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3 Comments on “Should there be greater regulation of GMO’s?”

  1. srwetzler

    This is so interesting!! I agree that the balance between the “goods” and the “bads” of GMOs can be a really difficult thing to tackle. I’ve never really thought about the other side– about changing the organism, mainly because I’ve always been more intrigued by the effects on humans. Relating back to our unit about animal rights, I would ask about the rights of the genetically modified organisms themselves. Do these plants have rights? Where does this stem from? Can they feel pain or be affected in the same way as an animal or even a human? I also agree with your point that there are varying effects on other things– the animals that could potentially eat these plants have rights as well, don’t they? How does this affect them?

  2. srwetzler

    Kelley Nicholson-Flynn

    [ May 04, 2016 at 1:03 am ]

    Sara, you’ve hit on some key points – in particular the interconnectedness of organisms in ecosystems. I think a real key is to evaluate the empirical evidence we have about GMOs. For example, Monsanto says here (http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/food-safety.aspx#q2) that safety risks are few. What do we do if we are concerned about bias? Look at the original studies? Seek studies funded by other organizations? What do we do if they conflict? (Ah, the power and limitations of science!)

  3. srwetzler

    To expand on possible negative effects, it is my understanding that some GMO’s share very, very similar DNA, even more so than their more natural counterparts. If this is the case, could a certain virus or disease find a weak spot in the DNA and spread through the crops, rendering the whole population useless?

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