GMFs - The Argument

GMFs- Good Modern Foods? OR Good Murder Foods?

Group 49

Over the years there has been a lot of debate regarding the issue of Genetically Modified Organisms/Foods (GMO’s/GMF’s). It is one of the most contentious areas of science, where although genetic engineering is being used for medical applications such as in GM Insulin, the use of the same in the case of agriculture and foods is debated to be detrimental. This article will discuss the viewpoints of the authors based on a “for” and “against” argument.

Why GMFs?

On average, genetically modified foods increases yield by 22 percent, which helps to reduce pesticide use by 37 percent, and increases farmer profits by 68 percent. The new varieties of genetically modified crops offer nutritional benefits which are not present in the conventional types of crops, for example, Golden Rice. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, some genetically modified foods have been engineered to become more nutritious with regards to its vitamin and mineral content. The GM foods can not only help people to get the required nutrients which they need but can also play a significant role to eliminate malnutrition in third-world countries. Genetic modifications to food, not only improves the nutrition content but can also add pest or weather resistance at the same time, so that people in the future could gain the same nutrition from the lower levels of the food pyramid as well.

New types of crops are being developed to be grown in extreme climates, such as in dry or freezing environments, for example, scientists have developed a new kind of tomato that grows in soil with high mineral contents. As more plants and crops are being raised in areas that were previously unsuitable for farming, the oxygen levels in the environment are increased which in turn decreases the proportion of carbon dioxide and helps to reduce global warming in the future years to come. In fact, British economists noted in a study that genetically modified crops have made a significant contribution in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 10 million tons, which is an equivalent to removing around 6 million cars from the road each year.

GM foods can produce more crops with less land which can help predict how much food supplies would be gained from a particular crop yield and for how long will that particular crop yield sustain. The primary goal of GM crops was to tackle the food deserts situation which can help feed around 9.2 billion people around the world with the added advantage of longer shelf life.  This improvement gives us the possibility to take excess food products from one community and deliver it to another. One of the most prominent effects of genetically modified foods on our everyday life would be the prices of food products, as a higher crop yield would help reduce its price.

Why not GMFs?

Normal Rice Vs Golden RiceAlthough Genetically Modified Foods/Crops might have its perks, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has cited that studies on animals have shown the ill effects of GM foods. Some of these include, organ damage, immune system disorders, intestinal damage, accelerated aging and infertility.

There have also been reports by scientists at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, at the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in Quebec, of finding toxic pesticides in pregnant mothers, and eventually in the unborn baby. The researchers implied that the chemicals entered the body through eating farm foods from livestock that have been fed GM crops. This has to lead the previous claims of the GM industry, that all the harmful chemicals added to crops would pass safely through the human body, but instead, it has led to a possible biomagnification effect.

Another cause of concern with GM foods would be the side effects that can promote cancer. As we know that GM crops have certain pesticide properties which are able to kill certain pests. This would mean that over a certain duration of years it would lead to the formation of cancer cells which could affect the human body. The WHO characterizes the safety of GMF’s as unlikely to pose a risk, even though there are concerns with regards to the cross-pollination or the outcrossing that occurs between GM and non-GM crops.

|According to the WHO, “… are not likely to present risks for human health”.

WHO in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has developed standards for assessing the safety and risks of GMF’s – Codex Alimentarius. These standards, however, do not take into account all aspects of safety, such as modern methods of cooking, like induction based devices, microwaves, and air fryers.

Unlike Europe, the United States of America had no laws regarding the labeling of GM foods. Back in July 2016, former US President Barack Obama approved a bill that would make the labeling of GM foods mandatory. Food products that abide by this law, will finally be available to consumers in the Summer of 2018. Prior to this people had no choice or idea if the foods they consumed on a daily basis was genetically modified or not. Now that labeling issue has been resolved, there have been reports of GM crops approved for industrial use and animal feed to be found in low levels in products intended for human consumption. This is a huge affair, as this cross contamination could lead to allergic reactions in humans, potential allergens or allergies which science is not aware of yet.

Multinational companies such as Monsanto, Bayer CropScience, Syngenta, and BASF have been the backbone of the Agricultural Biotechnological Council, helping it to promote GM crops to the world. In recent years, Monsanto has been suing independent farmers in the US due to its patent rights, wherein farmers are made to sign an agreement which states that they are not allowed to replant seeds which have been stored after harvesting or sell the seeds to other farmers, resulting in increasing farmer suicides due to high costs of GM seeds.

Conclusion

From the discussion above, it is essential to reflect on how GMFs can affect us in our lives, if whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages or vice-versa, based on each individual.

To summarize, GMFs can be useful during the times of wars and on lands having extreme climates, but at the same time, we also need to take into account the ill effects of GMFs. We believe that genetically modified foods still need further research and development, so they can get to a point where it makes it easy to convince the masses with sufficient information, to help them make a decision if whether GMFs are actually a boon or a bane.

55 thoughts on “GMFs- Good Modern Foods? OR Good Murder Foods?

  1. This is an interesting article, but you don’t seem to have included any ethical reasoning.

    Mixing ethics and engineering allows us to answer the question “Should we do this?”

    What are the ethical reasons for GMFs and what are those against?

    is it right that Monsanto now own the patent on crops?
    Why is their corn so different?
    Is it right that we explore ways to increase crop yields?
    Is it right to investigate ways of addressing the greenhouse effect?

    1. We missed out on mentioning explicitly the ethical reasons relatings to the for and against arguments of GMF’s, which is a bummer. I hope you enjoyed the rest of the article.
      Thank you for your comment!

  2. Very concisely written article, clearly demonstrating the benefits and drawbacks of GMO’s.
    It is strange how the USA never had a law that made the labelling of GMO foods mandatory. It is kind of wrong on the companies part as well, selling these products by not labelling them, leaving the people that buy these foods in the dark, not knowing what exactly they’re ingesting.

    1. The USA did finally learn what the people wanted, and how it was wrong of them to be keeping people in the darkness about the foods that they consume. The new law will greatly benefit the people, especially the ones that take their diet very seriously.
      Thank you for your response.

  3. A good article.
    I think that talking more about why increasing yields is important, such as the increasing world population and decreasing land for growing crops, would have been good.

    1. I would partially disagree, there was a mention of GMO/GMF’s that can possibly grow on land that is unsuitable for growing regular crops. I do not think we are actually running of space, in fact, we are running out of habitable land.

      1. You are right but statistics show that there are more uninhabited land than habitable land. Even nature has been modifying living things from origin of life until date. I will rather suggest a considerate and risk assessment based modifications.

  4. Good piece about an interesting topic. GM crops are going up against a growing trend of eating organic and it be interesting to see how GM companies try to persuade the consumers to buy in to GM especially in Europe.

  5. A very interesting piece of work . Well written and the matter speaks well of both the good side and the bad side of GMF’s

    It’s quite evident that the global warming has been decreasing as the hole in the ozone layer is now gradually shrinking!
    Industrial areas that would naturally not allow any plants to grow due to the pollution now finally have a ray of hope!

    However , even though WHO speaks of low risk to human health , chemicals can still enter the body through the food we consume and could be quite dangerous.

    Ethical/ religious views should also be considered when it comes to growing techniques and consumption of such food (e.g. Muslims do not eat pork . But the food could have some genes obtained from pigs, which is against their religion.)

    1. A very good point raised with regards to religious views.Thank you!
      Like you mentioned, certain religions do prohibit certain types of foods of the methods in which the food was made. With regards to GMF’s, it would be very uncertain how different religions will react to this.

  6. Intrigued about the way that this article addressed the problem with a mutual ideology.

    We should never forget the relationship of the glob’s population and the demand of food. As we are reaching the verge of 10 billion population by 2100 we will need a cheaper alternative to provide nutrition and basically the growth of the GMFs could form potentially a crisis of medical awareness regarding the malnutrition practice that the GMFs infiltrate to the biological world.

    1. Absolutely agree with you. This technology can be developed but I am against its ubiquitous use today. Perhaps it is in demand in countries with a very low standard of living. But consumers should be informed about GMFs.
      The whole idea is connected with obtaining profit. If the cost price of growing GMF products is much lower than natural I think the choice of a person engaged in agriculture will be obvious. Will he think about the ethical side of the question? I am not so sure.

    2. Some may argue that finding cheaper alternatives may not always be healthy/good for human consumption without proper tests being carried out or until it is proved by long-term studies.
      Some may also argue that people will continue to consume what is harmful to their health (cigarettes, sugary drinks, etc) without thinking of the future consequences. It is very difficult to pinpoint what exactly people are looking for.
      Thank you for your response.

  7. Quite interesting. the benefits are really worth it but the adverse effects are far disastrous especially in undetected and unreported cases where consumers cannot trace their illness to a particular GMF they ate. most of them are appealing to the eye and lasts longer but the toxicity and carcinogenic tendencies of these foods while interacting with preservatives and storage conditions can kill instead of nourish lives. Natural foods has several ways to interact with the human body system because it is nature versus nature but these GMFs contain more synthetic balance than natural which can result to unreported ailments than can be handed down to generations. in the fields, their are animals that will still have access to the crops which these crops are not modified for and this can lead to biomodification on their own part. My opinion is that while we welcome advancements, control and improvement measures should be continuous so as to arrive at really better lives for all not really for the financial benefits to the farmers.

    1. This is something that the members of this group were discussing. Although some researchers say that GMF’s are not harmful, there is also some evidence found where GMF’s are indeed harmful like discussed in the article.
      Some may argue that finding cheaper alternatives may not always be healthy/good for human consumption without proper tests being carried out or until it is proved by long-term studies.
      Some may also argue that people will continue to consume what is harmful to their health without thinking of the future consequences. It is very difficult to pinpoint what exactly people are looking for.

  8. In my opinion some rules of ethics are violated in the development of GMO technologies. Nature is a mechanism that cannot be fully recreated by human or modified. In this area much has been learned but not all. We do not know all the processes of the life cycle of plants and their influences on a organism.
    Of course I thought about the impact of GMOs to the health but I didn’t know than there are problems with labelling of GMO products. Can we classify the absence of labels as a deception for consumers?
    Even if we consider that this is a kind of strategic technology for protecting the population for a particular country, is it proper to apply GMOs in everyday life from the ethical point of view? I think absolutely NO.
    This could be a big risk that can be applied to other technologies that infringe on ethics. The result may be conflict between ethic and profit.

    1. Exactly what you said. If something isn’t labelled right, say for example medication, if consumed by a person that it wasn’t meant for, could lead to serious health issues and possibly death even. It is also a form of deception to the consumers, which violates their rights.

  9. An interesting article and a good discussion about its benefits and disadvantages.
    I am personally against GMFs as it is still unclear to what long-term effect can happen in term of health, although it might be beneficial for those who live in the area with lack of food sources since the GMFs can be produced in large quantities at a time + there is
    a minimal problem with the environment to where the crops grow.

    1. ya, its still unclear to long-term effect can happen in term of health but for now, I think it is better to make a lot of people not suffering from their hungry than thinking of the health problem in the future.

  10. A really interesting article, it clearly states the advantages and disadvantages of GMF’s. In my opinion, GMF’s represent a potential solution for some of the world most important problems like greenhouse emissions and extreme poverty. Nevertheless, is fundamental to know the secondary or long-term effects of this kind of food. Nowadays, there are a lot of studies about food that can cause ills, however, is not clear in which amount this food is dangerous. The government should regulate the production and distribution of this kind of food, keeping in mind the factors mentioned in this article.

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      With regards to the government regulating the production and distribution of genetically modified foods, the government itself might be involved in funding the research and production of these foods. This might sound like some conspiracy theory, but this is just our view. Their intention might not be bad, they might want something that benefits their country, but we all know, not all countries have honest governments…

  11. I want to ask the producers and advocates of GMOs “How life be created by millions of years (without human participation) can be studied and improved in tens of years?”. Remember the history of gene therapy, when only after the death of Jesse Gelsinger in the testing of gene therapy was found out a lot of negative test facts.
    From my point of view, scientists should not only focus on the benefits of technological developments, but also remember the importance of ethics and social responsibility before the public.

    1. We were not aware of the Jesse Gelsinger clinical trials death case. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
      On further reading about it, it seems that the scientists that were involved in this clinical trials broke several codes of conduct set by the American FDA.
      Thank you for your response.

  12. This is a quite comprehensive narrative about both sides of the GMO industry. I think the question of the hazard of GMO is still vague, it does not look convincing that there are more disadvantages than advantages.
    But, I would like to know more about how this controversial topic can be judged based on existing ethic concepts.
    Personally, in my opinion, it is the risks of developing and implementing GMO does not look persuasive to judge the technology as not beneficial for everyone. And I believe, people will always have a choice which kind of food to choose. Great article!

    1. Thank you for your response.
      From our research, we did not find any people that were seriously affected by GMF’s nor did we find any GMF related deaths. We believe that people’s views on these foods will greatly depend on how the media outlets portray these foods as. We know how influential different forms of media can be. It not only promotes legitimate news but also many hoaxes.

  13. Excellent article. It states pros and cons.
    In my opinion, it is necessary to cultivate the GM food to meet the demand.
    It is upmost important to solve the problem of global warming. At the same time, it affects the health of an individual.

    1. A majority of the people do not like the idea of having genetically modified foods in the market, even though it has a lot of advantages to it. With regards to the health issue, we can debate saying that not everything we eat is healthy or suitable for consumption to all. Some can really benefit from these foods, while others might have an allergic reaction to the same. Eg.Milk and lactose intolerant people.

  14. Even I share the same opinions with regards to GMO’s. Companies like Monsanto have been playing God over the years with regards to genetically modified foods which is not ethically right and was only possible due to the actions of the US Government.
    Initially, nobody had the patent rights to own crop seeds, but due to changes in the law, these companies have taken full advantage of the situation. It is not right for them to be harassing innocent farmers both, who are and those who aren’t their customers.

  15. Very interesting article, a very detailed introduction to genetically modified foods. The whole article compared the advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified foods, but it made me feel less humane. For example, what kind of ideas do people want to grow and study genetically modified foods? Is it because of considerations that will reject GM foods?

  16. This is a very good article. Today, when genetic modification is becoming more and more popular, it is necessary for these views to be mentioned. The safety of genetically modified foods and the threat to human health have not been clearly defined until now. Genetically modified foods have not been widely promoted in some countries so far. But on the other hand, with the popularization of the earth’s population, there is a greater demand for food, so genetically modified foods are indispensable.

  17. It is a controversial issue. In some cases it is necessity to use GMF. In some cases, mass producers in order to decrease their costs overuse technology which is eventually unhealthy. Generally, governments, health authorities, NGOs and media should carefully monitor GMF production. But it is true that in foreseeable future we will need to choose between healthy food and hunger.

  18. Very interesting topic.

    I am not a scientist but I’ve come to a realisation that corps can grow bigger (or somewhat different) because we modify them, then what happen to our body if we consume them?

    There should be a tighter control on GMF from the government around the world. If something goes wrong then it will damage current and next generations.

  19. A very interesting article, wherein the advantages of utilising GMF are well established as well as the adverse effects that can be detrimental to human life are also covered. In my opinion, the article should also display research that is taking place by scientists that focus more on improving the health benefits of GMF. To conclude with, I believe it ultimately depends on the people which type of food to choose after learning about how this entire process works.

  20. A very insightful article, and it’s quite surprising to know about so many advantages of genetically modified food, but it would be quite interesting to know about the health effect on humans over a longer period of time. I believe there should be a balance between ethical and technology, and in no way technology should supersede the other.

    1. I absolutely agree with you!
      In order to study the long-term effects of GMF/GMO’s, obviously there will be a need of some time to pass, but what if we consider if there was a famine, and the only food available is sourced from GMO/GMF’s, I bet people would then prefer to die of hunger rather than consume these modified foods?
      It is always difficult to convince people when introducing something new.

    2. Well said Rasikh, in no way technology, should overthrow ethical reasoning.
      The main concern according to us is not the issue of ill effects that genetically modified foods will have on humans, as not all foods in today’s world are a 100% safe to consume, but the issue that could possibly arise in the future is the companies that produce these foods might start acting up, misusing their abilities of supplying these modified foods, increasing prices when demands are high etc

  21. A fascinating article, I will become the person who for the GMF cause a lot of people in this world become starving and hungry. However, GMF had terrible chemical inside; I prefer to die because the illness consume the GMF then starving until die ;))

  22. I found the article to be very well written and shows a great deal of thorough background research. While the promoted upsides of GMF may evidently be promising from an utilitarian point of view, this may no longer be the case with the problems raised by recent studies, which seem to indicate long-term side effects.

    I think that the US government reacted slow to this trend, by requiring GMF to be labeled accordingly. By not informing the consumer and thus stripping him of the power of choice, the principles of care ethics have pretty much been violated.

    Until more extensive studies are conducted, that can guarantee the long-term safety of this GMF altered food chain, the distribution of GMF needs to be strictly limited. It would be interesting to see how interest in this area will develop in the following years.

  23. This is a good research work that has succeeded in providing insight and information needed to carry out further research on the topic. In my opinion the researchers did a good job.

  24. Very interesting article overall, but I’ve noticed that it mostly just outlines advantages and disadvantages!! I did see a moral issue shine forth though, and would have been nice to see that it be delved into it a bit more.

    It was mentioned that in many countries, GM foods are not labeled, which means that people are being refused the choice of deciding whether they would like to buy CM foods or not. I would have loved to see this point developed more since this would be beginning of a long ethical debate.

    But in terms of what I would prefer, I prefer to eat GM foods that are all natural, and in its healthiest form. That way, I won’t have to worry about foods that can potentially be harmful to me.

  25. A great article at the right time when the population is growing in leaps and the land is scarce. In fact the cultivable land is further reduced by unwarranted human wars and destructions.
    GMFs is the only way to feed the billions in future.
    Well done engineers as the future rests on your shoulders too. Good article.

  26. Well spoken on this topic. I believe GMF are very important in our present and even more important for our future due to the increasing population and increasing demand for food.
    Also, I believe that the GMF are a good idea as it reducues the percentage of death due to starvation or malnutrition. GMF has drawbacks in consideration to beliefs but however, I think its more important to survive.
    Anyways, Good article and I loved the facts included in it.

    1. GMF’S might solve the world hunger problems, but what if it’s these foods that leads to their cause of death a later stage, rather than hunger itself? It would be like feeding a person spoilt food claiming you saved him from dying of hunger, which can lead to food poisoning and then possibly be a cause of his death.

      1. This is absolutely true!
        There is also a chance l, when this time comes, companies like Monsanto that is mentioned in this article, might act as a monopoly controlling the supply and prices of genetically modified foods to maximise their profits, which old be very wrong.

  27. I am rooting for genetically modified foods in this article. I believe in today’s world, a majority of the foods we consume are synthetically made, and when these synthetic foods were first introduced into the market, the general public was obviously against it. But if you have a look now, these same people have accepted that that is the way to go, and are probably consuming these foods as well.
    Though it will take some time to convincing the people, GMO/GMF’s are and will be a part of our future.

  28. Overall, a good topic to debate on. Personally, I am not in favour of genetically engineered food for consumption. In a lot of cases, it bring many side effects and potentially harmful for our body. I believe this is because over thousands of years, humans been relying on naturally growth and organic food source for survival; the introduction of ‘artificial’ food would create unfavourable change to the conceptualisation. I do however believe that modern food could be beneficial in the future as global warming could play a devastated effect in the current food corpses. More research needs to be carried out in this area to mitigate any side effects or diseases from consumption.

  29. Now we all think of the harm the GMF’s may have on the human body because we still have a good amount of naturally grown food.
    But believe me… once there is a shortage , Everyone is going to consume it to survive!

  30. I would strongly disagree with your opinion on the consumption of synthetic foods as it would not a have a great impact right away on human health but over the years there would rise in the number of toxins which would enter the body due to consumption of such foods. The rise in mortality rate would also be increased due to health problems created by such foods.

  31. A majority of the comments seem to have a negative opinion on genetically modified foods, and I am sorry to say that I am going to be one of them too.
    These foods may help a lot of people, and even possibly help countries where children are malnutritioned, but when doing so, are these people aware of what they’re consuming? Are they being educated on what genetically modified foods are?
    Considering their situation, I know they wouldn’t make a fuss about what type of food they get, but ethically speaking is it right on our part and go ahead and feed them these foods?

  32. I believe that the problem in the future will be the companies that are spending money on research and development of genetically modified foods, and not the genetically modified food itself.
    Scientists and researchers may eventually have a solid evidence to prove to the public that these genetically modified foods are not harmful for human consumption, but once this is done, and the sales of these foods start rising, causing more people to get into this trend, shifting from traditional methods of growing regular crops, the companies that own these foods might start playing dirty.

  33. This was a very interesting read. The issue of GMF is indeed quite perplexing, this is because the dis-advantages are clearly outweighing the advantages, however, production companies and even farmers are still using them in order to benefit economically. Even though there are claims that there is minimal risk to human health, these claims do not deny that there is a chance of harming human beings, which is to my eyes inexcusable. Pursuing the usage of GMFs without it being necessary; in my opinion, violates standards and moral compasses and is ethically questionable at best. Last but not least, people have the right to know what they are consuming and further exposure and research should be done on GMFs for reassurance with the rest of the population.

  34. The alternative is to plant seeds and tend them like humans have done for at least 10,000 years. It is a myth propagated by guess whom? to say that GMOs are necessary. They are a specific technology that agrobusiness today takes advantage of, because they allow slightly lower costs (in some cases significantly lower costs but the benefit is reducing) while using chemicals like glyphosate to weed fields. I’m speaking here mainly of Roundup Ready and other herbicide-tolerant plant-chemical combinations. There are other commonly used GMO traits, like Bt toxin producing corn, which allows less pesticide to be used because it grows its own pesticide right in the plant itself, throughout the life cycle.

    In any case, it takes a different worldview than the agrochemical industry wants to foster, but i believe very strongly that we can have a better world if we transition to smaller-scale human-centric agriculture. I don’t mean returning to an agrarian society, but rather using modern technology appropriately, and using many techniques of holistic agriculture, instead of relying on chemical inputs that have dubious safety and health risks, to save some money or labor. We can produce more beautiful food, and have more people living a good life on clean farms, if we farm with integrity instead of chemical weeding agents.

  35. This might be a “healthier “ alternative, but going about farming in a regular fashion might not help save people in countries hit with famine. The yield from regular crops is just too less and too slow to consider solving the problem of world hunger, but GMF’S could possibly solve this issue. Although there is no concrete evidence that GMF’S are a 100% safe, we should also take into consideration that there is hardly any evidence that GMF’S are harmful too.

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