Looking at Both Sides of the Genetically Modified Foods Issue
Genetically modified (GM) foods hold many promises for improving life. With their amazing breakthroughs, biotechnology firms have manipulated the genetic structure of many high-demand crops, bestowing them with amazing properties. Natural herbicide and pesticide-producing genes have been inserted into corn to kill off weeds and pests without directly poisoning the environment. Production costs and maintenance time have been decreased through genes that bestow rapid growth and hardiness in tomatoes. The firms even claim that their modified foods can vaccinate in the near future! With these impressive foods, the implications are wondrous: farmers could immensely increase their profit, markets could rapidly expand, and world hunger could finally be solved. Given these astounding benefits, why would any farmer not want to grow GM foods? Opponents of GM foods respond by raising grave questions: do GM foods truly hold up to their promises? Have the firms researched possible dangerous side effects of their tampering? By eating the unnatural foods, are humans risking their lives? Let us investigate both sides of GM foods and decide if they are worth the investment.
The farmers' primary route to increase their market is by expanding globally. This is not easy, but can be made easier with the new hardy, pest-resistant, low maintenance GM crops. Low maintenance means lower prices, which will increase the number of crops sold. However, lower prices are not the only part of the equation. Consumers must believe that what they are buying is safe. No matter how low the price goes, it will not sell if consumers don't trust the product. This has been the fate of GM foods in much of the world.
There is an internationally growing anti-GM fervor. Europe has banned many GM imports and GM production, severely hindering GM food sales abroad (Kilman, "Biotech Scare" A1+). Not only did the ban close the world's second largest market from GM producers, but also other countries may follow Europe's lead. Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand have taken the lead in Asia by enacting laws that require labeling of all GM foods ("Consumer Pressure"). Because of the frightening implications of the altered foods, the label is condemning GM foods to rot on the shelves. American companies and markets are also becoming aware of the extreme difficulty of selling GM foods. Gerber's and Heinz banned GM ingredients in their baby foods (Kilman, "US Consumer Pressure"). Frito-Lay recently announced that 95% of its corn for corn chips was GM free (ibid.). American grocery chains and food coops are steadily removing the altered foods from their shelves (ibid.). Frito-Lay, Procter and Gamble, McDonald's and other fast food chains are quietly getting rid of their GM potatoes (ibid.). Some high-class restaurant chefs have even launched a campaign, "Keep Nature Natural," protesting the...