Chef’s Specialty: Transgenic Organisms (Sustained Argument Paper)

Introduction:

When it comes to food, many are triggered. Some people may not care at all what their bodies consume or where the food originated and others worry about the opposite.

Credit: Harvard University

Many people have no idea what a modified food is about, or like myself at the beginning, never even heard of this. The way in which foods become modified start by its origin, the DNA. An article, From Corgis to Corn: A Brief Look at the Long History of GMO Technology, found in the library database at Harvard University explicitly explains how this biotechnology first came to use. The author Gabriel Rangel states, “The earliest evidence of artificial selection of plants dates back to 7800 BCE in archaeological sites found in southwest Asia, where scientists have found domestic varieties of wheat.” Given this information, many scientists can use this information as a pinpoint to where this all began. As technology advances through the years, different DNA modifications can be made not only to crops but to animals as well.

The Monsanto Company, a publicly traded American multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation, became involved with the production of genetically modified foods in the year 1996. One of the first crops modified by the Monsanto Company was the soybean crop. It consisted of a glyphosate-resistant engineer that prevented herbicides from destroying the crop.

Referring back to the Harvard University article, the author Rangel informs that “researchers have developed a new technology called CRISPR, which takes advantage of bacterial systems to simplify genetic editing, allowing for easier development of GE organisms”. Technology seems to progress in the direction of benefiting our community by modifying organism that will become beneficial for the consumers.

Credit: NPR News

In recent years, the senate has been trying to pass a law in which GMO labeling should be required. An article, Congress Just Passed A GMO Labeling Bill. Nobody’s Super Happy About It, from the NPR News writes on this law that was passed by the House of Representatives in the year 2016. The author Dan Charles states, “Within a few years, consumers will be able to find out whether any food in the supermarket contains GMO ingredients.” In part, many people are happy with this rising conclusion to the issue, but many companies are highly opposed to this mandatory labeling. The law didn’t necessarily fulfill the expected income on either for or opposing side. Even though the law was passed, the labels are not written labels rather they are barcode scans. As Charles mentions, “ [Scott] Faber says mandatory labeling is necessary in order to provide consumers the information they need to ensure ‘that their values are reflected in their food dollar’.” In a sense, this is very true; consumers should know what kind of company their money is going towards and whether the food they buy is worth the quality that is paid.

The topic of genetically modified crops is one that many people don’t bother to inform themselves about or even try to figure out what it is. It is a topic not many people talk about or tries to gain knowledge of.

Credit: Google

Thesis:

There’s a lot of controversy about why GMOs are either safe or unsafe. Many articles write about the benefits and how it is a better way for our bodies to be nurtured. But in my opinion, genetically modified crops should not be allowed. Many people don’t give in their opinion about it because not many are aware of it. Consumers should gain more knowledge about this topic because it is important to know what we put into our bodies. Because it is a topic not many people talk about, the few that have been affected by this type of science often get pushed to the side or ignored. There are very few authors who dare to write about the issue, risking to be crushed by the big companies who stand behind the genetic engineering. The more people talk about this, the more information we will be getting out of these companies.

The few credible articles that are out there try to expose these companies by providing information about how theses crops will affect us. There are more articles out there that talk about the benefits of genetically modified crops. By modifying crops we can get more vitamins and beneficial components into our bodies. This definitely can be beneficial, but not all bodies can react positively to the new crop. If there is a high amount of bioengineering into the food, the body may not accept all these chemicals that are being inserted. Nobody really wants to see how this can negatively impact his or her health. It can impact us if we consume foods that are no longer grown in their untouched, natural habitat. That’s why I encourage doing your research, understanding the risks, and being more open minded to talk about the issue that not many are aware of.

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One of the main factors in this topic is how this genetic engineering can be beneficial. Although there is talk about how it can help the food industries, the target focus is pointing in the wrong direction. Most of what these modified crops contain are to prevent the plants from growing weeds. The modification that was made for these crops are to prevent week-killing bacteria from forming.

Credit: The New York Times

An article, Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops, found in the New York Times talks about how these crops is engineered to benefit the company rather than the consumer. The author, Danny Hakim, explains, “…herbicide use has increased in the United States, even as major crops like corn, soybeans and cotton have been converted to modified varieties”. Many plants are now being modified to prevent crops from being exposed to bacteria that can affect the crop.

Although it could be beneficial, it is not allowing the crop to grow in its natural habitat. Hakim argues, “The use of toxins that kill insects and fungi has fallen by a third, but the spraying of herbicides, which are used in much higher volumes, has risen by 21 percent.” The use of herbicides increases the growth of healthy vegetation by 21% as opposed to it naturally growing with pesticides. Europe has significantly improved in the use of herbicides and insecticides, a substance used to kill insects.

Many companies, like in this case, find gene modification important in order to prevent these weed-killers from entering the crops. It is important, however, there can be a risk to the consumer if these herbicides are applied. There isn’t any evidence found that these crops are good to eat with all these chemicals applied.

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Given the new law passed, Vermonters are now adapting to the new labeling law. Genetically modified food labeling is the best way of informing the consumers about what their product contains. Even though there are still restrictions, the majority of food companies are being expected for labeling.

Credit: The New York Times

The author of G.M.O.s in Food? Vermonters Will Know, Stephanie Strom, states, “Vermont’s law requires the labeling of most packaged grocery products as well as any whole fruits or vegetables produced with genetic engineering”. It is already known that many crops originate from a modified seed. By now given the information about what crops are modified, people can decide whether to consume the product or not; we now have a choice.

A video, Chipotle’s new GMO free formula, on the New York Times website talks about a popular food chain that is G.M.O. free; Chipotle. Technologist, Mary Chapmen, is impressed as to how this food chain has been able to acquire the resources to stay away from the genetically modified foods. Reporter, Bobbie Rebell, states “ Chipotle has a history of sticking to its promise of better ingredients”. A food chain so well known has been able to stay away from genetically modified crops that can harm people. Although the science can’t confirm how these gene modifications can affect us, consumers continue to request for organic foods.

Credit: Chipotle

Any company that is willing to go GMO free has the potential to do so. Big food chain industries not only have the power but money as well. The main action has to be taken within the important figures in the industry; it is up to them how much they care for their customer’s health.

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The topic of genetically modified organisms is already well known in the United States. Not many people bother to wonder how it could be affecting other people outside the country. Our country exports goods to other places outside of the country. These genetically modified foods could be affecting other people without us realizing it.

Credit: The New York Times

In the article China Moves a Step Forward in Its Quest for Food Security, Amie Tsang states that “The Chinese government wants to make sure its food supply is reliable and safe as it works to feed a rapidly growing middle class”. Reading further down the article, China is banned from having any kind of modified seeds grown in the country. Even though China has the money for experimentations on GMOs, they don’t have the approval. The money should be used to figure out how these chemicals in food can affect the consumers, not how these modified foods can be improved. There needs to be more investigation on the effect before doing the cause.

Credit: The New York Times

These problems don’t have to come from outside the United States only; it can come from within as well. Michael Wines wrote his article, Genetically Altered Wheat in Oregon Comes as No Surprise, which talks about a farmer who found his wheat to be genetically modified. Wines states, “…an Oregon farmer had found genetically engineered wheat growing in his fields…apparently the remains of a test crop shut down a dozen years ago — got there.” Wines mentioned that the Monsanto Company shut down this test crop back in 2004. The left over seeds resulted to affect less than 1% of this farmer’s crops but still manages to spread. My opposition on this is how these companies’ test results can easily affect someone, like this farmer. Many find themselves I the situation of not being able to avoid it because the damage is done. The worst part is that we the citizens have to deal with these companies’ consequences.

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These genetically modified foods are affecting us on a large scale. It becomes even more affective when the stories come from an individual person. Many farmers who own land where companies used soil for experiments end up paying the consequences of what ever is left over. Andrew Pollack wrote his article Dow Corn, Resistant to a Weed Killer, Runs Into Opposition about the farmer Jody Herr. Pollack argues, “To Jody Herr, it was a telltale sign that one of his tomato fields had been poisoned by 2,4-D, the powerful herbicide that was an ingredient in Agent Orange, the Vietnam War defoliant.” Herr began noticing that the leaves on his crops began taking a different form during its growth.

Credit: The New York Times

What happened to Jody Herr is a situation that could happen to any farmer. The effects of GMOs have different ways of causing a negative impact on others. Not only can this affect your health, but your farmland if big corporations previously used it. There are many similar situations like this one where farmers find defects on their crops due to an exposure of chemicals left behind.

Conclusion:

A way to stop these food modifications is by talking about it. It doesn’t require any advertisement or informative speeches; just by bring up the subject is helpful. People who become engaged into the conversation go and share with others. Do your research and share what you know to family and friends. The younger generations can use Hashtags on GMOs or share any pictures on Instagram with the people you know.

Sharing our knowledge with others will get the big food companies turning their heads. The more our community knows, the more healthier and organic versions of foods we can gain.

Works Cited:

· Rangel, Gabriel. “From Corgis to Corn: A Brief Look at the Long History of GMO Technology”. Science in the News, Harvard (2015): Print.

· Charles, Dan. “Congress Just Passed A GMO Labeling Bill. Nobody’s Super Happy About It”. NPR News (2016): Print.

· Hakim, Danny. “Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops”. The New York Times (2016): Print.

· Strom, Stephanie. “G.M.O.s in Food? Vermonters Will Know. The New York Times (2016): Print.

· Rebell, Bobbie. Chipotle’s new GMO free formula. The New York Times, Reuters Business (2015): Video.

· Tsnag, Amie. China Moves a Step Forward in Its Quest for Food Security. The New York Times (2017): Print.

· Wines, Michael. Genetically Altered Wheat in Oregon Comes as No Surprise. The New York Times (2013): Print.

· Pollack, Andrew. Dow Corn, Resistant to a Weed Killer, Runs Into Opposition. The New York Times (2012): Print.