Sample Paper on Genetically Modified Foods vs. Organic Foods

Genetically Modified Foods vs. Organic Foods

Introduction

Consumers have continued to enjoy the availability of variety of food substances generated form organic food production and advances in biotechnology, which produce Generically Modified Foods (Teitel et al 4). Since the introduction of genetically modified food in 1996, different countries, such as the United States have incorporated this system of food production into their agricultural systems to meet the demands of climate change and global warming (Teitel et al 4). This explain why by 2005, about 120 million acres of land had been subjected to the production of biotech food crops in the United States. Organic food production has also continued to grow considering the availability of the food crops in the retail and wholesale markets (Weasel 15). The main challenge in understanding the issues around genetically modified foods and organic foods is that the former is relatively cheaper to produce compared to the latter. The main objective of this paper is to conduct an in-depth study on the debate around genetically modified food and organic food. This will be through a consideration of the health, ethical and environmental issues.

 

 

Genetically Modified Food and Organic Food Production Defined

Organic food production

Organic food production system is an agricultural approach to food production, which incorporates production methodologies that minimize the use of off-farm inputs (Dunn-Georgiou 20). Certified organic food production connotes the assumption that the system used in the production of food substances is in agreement with the requirement of the national standards. These requirements in the US, for example, are those that are applicable to the production process instead of the measurable attributes of the products.

The success of organic food production is highly dependent on the qualifications of the certifying agents who play the role of assessing farmers for eligibility in terms of operation and facilities. The observation for compliance with the demands of the organic production system includes the absence of prohibited crop and animal growth enhancers and pest control systems (Dunn-Georgiou 22). The resultant food products will be those that are produced without the intervention of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or ionizing radiations. In animal production, organic foods are dairy products and poultry products that have been produced without the use of antibiotics or growth enhancing hormones.

Genetically modified food production

Genetically modification involves the use of additional scientific measures to the process of food and animal production through the addition of genes to alter the genetic makeup of the original organism (Schneider et al 1). The genetic modification process is often characterized by the transfer of organic materials from one organism to another, with the aim of producing plants and animals that possess desirable attributes. These attributes are those that facilitate faster growth and development processes compared to those of the classical organisms and those resulting from any form of crossbreeding (Teitel et al 8). The application of genetic engineering in plants and animals has been envisioned as a process, which inspires a relatively faster approach to the production of food substances (Liang 290). This is because alterations in the genetic composition of the target organisms will always improve the ability of the crop or animal to resists harsh environmental and disease causing conditions (Schneider et al 1).

Through this process, farmers have been able to engage limited resources in the production of food, largely because genetically modified organisms often require limited farmer involvement (Schneider et al 2). The major contribution of genetically modified foods to the agricultural system is the production of surplus food to meet the needs of the growing population and to minimize the effects of the dynamic environmental conditions on the wellbeing of food production (Teitel et al 12).

Genetically Modified Foods vs. Organic Foods

Health

According to the department of Food and drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and other biotechnological companies in different regions around the world, genetically modified food substances are generally safe for human consumption (Teitel et al 6). This is based on the assumption tha they do not generate any unhealthy side effects on human beings and animals. Despite these assurances, numerous advocates of food safety have continued to argue that genetically modified food products have only been subjected to short-term tests, which do not produce information concerning the long-term effects of consumption (Weasel 20). There is evidence from studies that long terms consumption of genetically modified food substances may result in damages of internal organs and low brain development among other effects (Weasel 22). In addition, long-term consumption of these products has also been linked to the development of food allergens and gastro-intestinal complications in human beings. There are also studies that suggest that the process of altering the Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) structure of different plant and animal  may be the leading cause of cancerous diseases among the consumers of genetically modified food substances (Teitel et al 6).

When perceived in relation to the health benefits, organic food substances have been considered to be healthier compared to biotech food substances. There are a plethora of reasons suggesting that organic food substances contain beneficial nutrients, which include antioxidants (Crinnion 8). In addition, these food substances are also healthier for those with different food allergies considering that they contain limited amounts of pesticides that are used in conventional agricultural purposes (Givens 19). Despite the expenses involved in the production of organic food substances compared to genetically modified foods, it is important to note that the health benefits far outweigh the costs incurred the production process (Crinnion 8-9).

Genetically modified food substances also possess some advantages over organic food substances. These advantages result from the understanding that the former due to alterations in the genetic composition often contain nutrients that are in fewer quantities in the later. This is because during the engineering process, the experts often alter the DNA of the plants and animals to meet their intended desires (Weasel 15). These desires revolve around the understanding that the changing environmental conditions may require the fusion of numerous nutrients in crops that can withstand the dynamic of climate change (Weasel 18). In addition, the production of genetically modified food substances does not make them complete unhealthy because it would be improper to provide poisonous material to consumers. Instead studies have only revealed that these food substances are less healthy compared to the organic food materials on the basis of the production systems (Dunn-Georgiou 28).

The process of minimizing the possibility of adverse health concerns requires different parties o engage in long-term studies of the possible health effects of genetically modified food substances (Weasel 105). In addition, it would be important to label genetically modified foods and organic foods to help consumers makes personal choices on the food substances that they desire. Through such labeling it will be easier to determine the nutrient content sand possible side effects of any food substance that is available in the food market (Liang 275).

Environment

The environment in the contemporary society has been subject to different effects considering the effects of global warming and climate change on food production. Organic food production has numerous effects on environmental conservation and wellbeing (Crinnion 5). For instance, organic food production system is beneficial since it is one way through which the agricultural experts ensure environmental sustainability over a long period (Dunn-Georgiou 23). This is because organic food production puts into consideration the medium and long-term effect of any agricultural interventions on the environment (Givens 51). This is especially when the production of food is in relation to the establishments of an ecological balance to minimize the possibility of reduction in soil fertility levels and an increase in pest related complications. This is an indication that the organic food production system is a proactive approach to the environmental problems (Givens 53).

The soil is considered as an important component of food production. This explains why through organic food portion it is easier to implement soils management practices such as crop rotation, intercropping, cover cropping, and the development of symbiotic associations between plants and the use of organic fertilizers (Dunn-Georgiou 23). These practices have been considered as beneficial in soil management since they encourage growth and development of soil microorganisms which improving the structure of the soil. In addition, these management practices also ensure an increase in the composition of nutrients while at the same tome increasing the retention capacity of nutrients and water in the soil (Givens 53).

The use of non-renewable energy has been cited as a contributor to the effects of climate change and global warming. The use of organic mechanisms in the production of food substances reduces the use of non- renewable energy by ensuring a reduction of agricultural demands (Givens 56). Activities such as minimum tillage and returning of crop residue to the soil decrease greenhouse gas effect since more carbon is retained in the soil for crop production (Kristiansen et al 306).

The environmental effects of genetically modified foods are often found in crops. These crops according to studies in North and South America are often those that are tolerant to pesticides or those which are pesticide producing. In some instances, genetically modified crops often possess both attributes (Weasel 30). Genetically modified crops that are pesticide producing have the ability to kills specific pests through the secretion of toxins. These crops have been perceived as toxic to harmless and non- targeted specified and this explains they may possess adverse effects on the population of microorganisms in the soil (Weasel 33). In addition, this group of food crops has also been considered toxic to different insects such as the honeybee, which plays an important role in the pollination of crops (Liang 278). Inasmuch as the pesticide producing crop may have contributes to a reduction in the population of pests , the biological and natural function of the pollination and flowering of different food crops may be adversely affected hence reducing the yield of the genetically modified food crops.

There is long term cumulative effects of these crops in the soil considering that the residue left due to secretion through the roots might be active enough to ensure the destruction of soil microorganisms, which are major contributors to the fertility levels, and structure of the soil (Weasel 45). There are also dangers related to these food crops to aquatic life. Leaves or grains from pesticide producing plants may enter watercourse and accumulate in organisms and exert a toxic effects on these organisms hence affecting the normal operations of these organisms (Liang 290).

The differences between organic foods and genetically modified foods in relation to the environment emanates from the understanding that the former contributes to the development of the structure of the soil while the later contributes to its destruction (Kristiansen et al 306). This is because organic food production systems contribute to an improvement in the ability of the soil to retain more carbon hence reducing the composition of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Furthermore, through different crop management practices such as crop rotation and the development of symbiotic relationships it has become possible to institute measures that require less use of non-renewable sources of energy (Liang 281). In the production of genetically modified food substances, it is relatively difficult to minimize negative environmental effects due to the toxicity levels of the byproducts of the plants. These cannot be used in enhancing the fertility levels in the social due to high chemical composition. In addition, the effects of genetically modified food extend to other areas within the environment, such as the aquatic life.

 

Ethical concerns

Ethical concerns in food production emanate from the undertaking that there are important factors to consider while determining the best approach to use in the process of food production. These approaches have to be grounded on among other factors, health concerns, environmental effects, and the overall safety of the food. The analysis of the ethical factors can also be addressed by considering the perspective of the consumers, the commercial enterprise, and that of the general society.

The consumer forms an integral part of the food production system. This is largely because of the consumer is the end recipient of the product and he is the reason for the production of agricultural products. Ethically, it is the responsibility of the farmer in different agricultural agencies to consider the effects of any food substance on the consumer (Kristiansen et al 309). These effects may be in the safety and the economic implications. The safety of organic foods is understood in terms of the system of production that does not involve numerous scientific interventions. However, the production of genetically modified foods is considered relatively complicated since the processes involved in alternation of genes. It may be relatively difficult for consumers with limited knowledge on biological composition and engineering to understand the processes involved. Despite these differences, it is possible to argue that it is the responsibility of the farmers and the agriculture agencies to develop sensitization programs that will provide essential information concerning the role of the consumer in purchased and consumption of different food substances (Liang 198).

One of the ethical approaches that can be used in managing the controversy between organic foods and genetically modified foods is through the provision of information regarding ingredients and the possible side effects of any food substance on health and the environment (Kristiansen et al 309). Consumers have the right to know what they are eating and the possible effects of these foods on their well-being. In addition, through such information it will be easier for consumers to play a contributory role in providing additional information on possible areas of improvement or a rejection of specific food substances on the basis of perceived threats to individual and societal wellbeing (Liang 209).

The process of developing and understanding the ethical controversies regarding organic foods and genetically modified foods can also be undertaken from the approach of social acceptability. The level of social acceptability is highly dependent on the amount of information that is available to consumers (Kristiansen et al 310). Organic food production can be considered socially acceptable due to the due to the knowledge that the public already possesses concerning the production process. This process aims at protecting the environment while at the same time adhering to the existing health standards in the society.

Existing information concerning genetically modified food production assert that it is important for the society to consider this approach due to the need to address an increase in demand for different food substances in harsh environment conditions (Liang 200). Proponents of genetically modified foods argue that advancements in science and technology can be used in increasing crop yield and reducing the duration of crop maturity hence meeting the high targets of food production.

In terms of commercialization of food products, farmers and agricultural agencies possess the knowledge that consumers are the most essential determinants of the success or failure of food products from the organic or the biotech production system through their behavior in the market. Knowledge on the differences between genetically modified foods and organic foods has been considered as the necessary provider of additional choices in the process of selecting food for their families. Such information is essential in the establishments of a relationship between food producers and consumers. The ability of the consumer to interpret any information that is provided often determines the overall perception of the society on the quality and health standards of genetically modified foods compared to those of organic foods (Liang 245).

While arguing from the ethical perspective, proponent of Genetically Modified foods have argued that this approach to food production provides lasting solutions to different populations faced by the threat of food inadequacies. In addition, genetically modified food facilitate the reduction of production costs and from a theoretical perspective the reduction in the cost of producing food can be passed on to the consumers (Schneider et al 2). Other than the cost benefits, the nutritional implications of these food substances have also been cited as additional advantages of genetically modified foods (Schneider et al 2). The additional benefits provide solutions to the increasing problems of nutrition deficiency especially in developing countries, which rely of specific staple foods (Liang 300).

Conclusion

The controversies arising from the choice between genetically modified foods and organic foods can be said to be related to the issues of health, environment, and ethical concerns. Opponent of genetically modified foods have continued to argue on the basis of terminal illnesses and the destruction of the environment as the main reason for rejecting the introduction of these foods into the market. Proponents of these foods argue that they are healthy for human consumption and are cost effective in terms of production and nutritional level. The success of these food products is however dependent on public awareness concerning the benefit and demerits on health and the environment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

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