GM Food Scandal
After reading the Dick Taverne article, â€śThe real GM food scandalâ€?, I feel much more informed on the issue of genetically modified foods. This is an issue in which I, frankly, had not taken enough interest, most likely because I do not do the grocery shopping for my family and I trust in my motherâ€™s food purchasing decisions. In his article, Taverneâ€™s objective is to first refute the claim that genetically modified foods are unsafe for consumers to eat, and secondly to show why so many people are so strongly against the genetic modification of their foods.
Taverne cites research studies completed in several countries such as India, China, Mexico, France, Brazil, and the United States that all find that the risk for genetically modified crops to be unhealthy is no greater than the risk for conventionally grown crops in order to refute the arguments of those objecting to the genetic modification of crops. He also acknowledges a 2001 study conducted by a European Union commission and also funded by the EU that recorded that not only is the genetic modification of crops healthy for humans, it is also not harmful to the environment. For those that have realized that a safety argument holds no water, and prefer to argue from and environmentalist stance, Taverne recommends a recently concluded study performed by Graham Brooks and Peter Barfoot of PG Economics. The study monitored the environmental effects of genetic modification in the first ten years of its use from 1996 through 2005, and found that any negative externality genetic modification might have on the environment is far outweighed by its positive externalities. Genetic modification of crops reduces agrochemical spraying, saves, energy, reduces need for fossil fuels and emission of greenhouse gasses, and uses land more efficiently. Taverne also argues that traditional methods of modification, in other words cross breeding, is expensive, time-consuming, and is successful much less often than genetic modification. Finally, he shows how many of the people opposing genetic modification are hypocrites because they often embrace this technology for medical purposes. Scientist were able to transfer the human gene that codes for insulin into bacteria and yeast to treat diabetics.
So why is the genetic modification of crops so universally conflicted and disliked? Why would regulations in the US and Europe make entering a genetically modified crop into the market so much slower and more expensive than a traditional crop? Taverne believes the problem lies within the fact that the large companies with resources to enter genetically modified crops into the market care more about financial gain than the overall welfare of the worldâ€™s people. The Reagan administration fought to abolish these regulations and convince lawmakers that genetically modified foods should be viewed as simply a new product rather than looking at how it was derived. However, large companies like Monsanto were able to strike fear of new technology to the American public and stave off change. Another contributing factor is the regulation laws being passed in the first place. Rather than provide comfort and security to the American public, they made the public suspicious, they thought genetic engineering must be dangerous if the government feels the need to regulate it.
I agree with Taverne in support of genetic modification of crops because there are scientific studies that have torn apart arguments of health issues and problems for the environment. The fact that a multitude of countries have all performed studies on genetically modified foods and have all come to the same conclusion is enough evidence to favor genetic modification. Another factor leading to my support of genetic modification is that all of the arguments against it are purely speculation. The fact that the opposition has little or no data to back up its arguments is almost as convincing as supporting data.