Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been the source of debate for years. I have heard arguments about GMOs from various people and perspective and have gained a better understanding about the topic. However, out of the different articles and media I have read or listened to, I have not come across a case where the author compares the benefits or disadvantages of GMOs. So I decided to compare them myself.
Before I could analyze arguments from both sides, I needed to learn more about the topic in question. The first important question - what is the definition GMO? According to Environmental Science A Study of Interrelationships, GMO is “...any organism that has been modified by ...view middle of the document...
(Enger) Humans have used selective breeding for centuries, where we choose the stronger of the crops that have gone through mutation to be planted in the coming years. Recombinant technique has a similar concept, where we manually select the traits from other organisms to be inserted into a certain organism. We have basically developed technology to allow the process of selective breeding to become quicker and convenient. However, Deborah B. Whitman argues that Eldon D. Enger & Bradley F. Smith has overlooked and underestimates the important fact that GMOs has the potential to be harmful to human health.
The article that supports Whitman’s argument is published in Lancet, which examined the effects of GM potatoes on the digestive tracts in rats. (Whitman) From the study, it was found that there were observable differences in the intestines of rats fed GM potatoes and unmodified potatoes. The most fearful fact about the GM potatoes is that it contains a snowdrop flower lectin, which is a substance known to be poisonous to mammals and originally wasn’t created for animal or human consumption. The International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) supports Whitman’s argument stating that the “safety testing of whole GM foods needs improvement.”
I agree with Whitman that the thought of having a toxic inserted into the potatoes that we eat is a terrifying thought, but professor Matin Qaim argues his claims by prioritizing the earth’s sustainability and protection. One advantage that professor Qaim claim GMO crops have on the earth is the reduced use of pesticides.
Going back to the previous idea of inserting specific traits and genes into organisms, recombinant techniques, it is possible to put beneficial genes such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) into specific crops which strengthens its resistance towards pest. (Qaim) This strengthened resistance against pests allows the less use of pesticides, in result lowering the amount of nutrients from the pesticides in agricultural runoff. (Raven) How this benefits the environment is that it lowers the amount of eutrophication due to anthropocentric activities that occurs in wetlands.
To understand the full benefits of lowered amounts of eutrophication, you will have to have a background in environmental science with the nutrient cycle, the process of anaerobic respiration, and the effects of lowered dissolved oxygen (DO) in aquatic ecosystems. However, to keep it simple for now, it basically saves the wetlands from the loss of wildlife and vegetation due to the excess amounts of nutrients added to the ecosystem. The significance of wetlands is that they play major roles in the world for people and wildlife such as flood control, trapping of sediments, and providing food, water, and shelter for fish, mammals, and birds. (Restoration)
However, Ronnie Cummins, a member of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), claims that the recombinant techniques may be aiding bacteria and parasites in antibiotic...