Biotechnology advanced in 1973 when Stanley Cohen and Professor Herbert Boyer originated Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) recombination (Friedberg, 590). Recombinant DNA (rDNA), more commonly known as ‘transgenic’ or genetically modified organisms, are made by withdrawing genes from one species and forcefully infusing the genes into another species. According to Catherine Feuillet (2015), GMOs were created with objectives to improve crop characteristics and overall help the environment.
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Not only are seeds being manipulated, but animals are too. Although the animals are mainly used for testing products such as cosmetics and medicine, there is a potential future for grocery stores selling modified meat. In 1982, agricultural biotechnology was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Claire Hope Cummings, author of Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the future of seeds, and a former environmental journalist reports that in 1994, GMOs hit local markets, transgenic crops were on the rise. The increase of GMOs in general have assembled concerns from scientist and farmers (Neves). Issues such as polluted ecosystems and the harm of human organs have been analyzed throughout the past few decades and have been found to pose potential risks. Ronnie Cummins argues, Genetically engineered ‘biological pollutants’ have the potential to be more destructive than chemical pollutants. . Biological pollutants are the transgenic organisms contaminating other organic crops. However, chemical pollutants, such as glyphosate and chlorpyrifos are potentially harmful to the environment and human body.
As reported by Carey Gillam, But claims began to surface that glyphosate was a carcinogen that persisted in crops and food products (L.N). If these genes are found unintentionally in foods, it is curious to where else they could be spreading to. Furthermore, another source also claims that heavy uses of chlorpyrifos, may be hazardous to human health (REZK, 1191). Both sources discuss the finding of chemical pollutants in food and debated the potential risk they can have on the body. Furthermore, Since non-chemical pollutants are ‘alive’ they could potentially attack the unmodified wildlife leading to extinction of certain insects and plants. Insects such as lady beetles, spiders and bees help control other insects farmers view as pests. Though biological pollutants are more dangerous because they can spread to other wildlife. There has been no cases that provide evidence of GMOs harming humans. Most research conducted has resulted in ‘theoretical’ like situations which could potentially cause troubles. However, there are beneficial aspects of GMOs such as nutrient enrichment and the decrease in time of production. Nutrition is important to human health. Many are often scolded by influencers to eat fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. According to an extraction from Real Clear Science, Only 13.1% and 8.9% of Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables (Berezow). Accordingly, in chapter two of the Dietary Guidelines, a graph shows that more than 60% of Americans fail to meet nutritional needs. Biofortification, the process of manipulating crops to increase nutritional value. A study has found, Developing through Mendelian, breeding orange-fleshed sweet potato rich in vitamin-A (Kesavan, 2417). Mendelian is Gregor Mendel’s theory of inheritance which was founded in 1863 after his pea plant experiment.
According to Healthline, Vitamin-A improves immune system functions, reduces risks of acne and supports bone health. With the enrichment of vitamin-A, people around the world can end the nutritional shortage. The United States of America is highly placed in the charts for being one of the most developed nations. Ever since America was founded in 1776, the nation has become economically fit and has been able to decrease its own hunger rates from 12.9% (2016), to 12.5% (2017) (Feeding America). As a well developed nation, MediaMax Network claims that America is the largest agricultural exporter with exports estimated at $110 billion (Sh11 trillion) in 2014. The United States also maintains one of the biggest economies and has the expectation to exceed 21 trillion in 2019 (Focus Economics). The United States is fortunate compared to countries such as Afghanistan or Yemen. Afghanistan was discovered earlier than the United States, between 1706 and 1708, but has yet to develop. The Afghan nation has a population of 35.53 million and has struggled with issues such as hunger and poverty for centuries. Action Against Hunger relief program reported the hunger statistics of Afghanistan and claimed, In 2017, the conflict intensified compared to 2016 (Tamburini). It has also been reported by the World Food Programme that 39% of the Afghan population is still living in poverty. Meanwhile, The Action Against Hunger relief program also announced the growth of famine in Yemen. With a population of 28.25 million, Yemen is one of the most recent regions that declared independence. As a ‘new’ country, Yemen does not have the resources to provide for its citizens. The Famine in Yemen has worsened which puts the population in danger. There are many causes for the lack of food in Afghanistan and Yemen. Poor climate, poverty, and low crop production are all contributions to the food shortage. Afghanistan is currently suffering from severe drought from lack of rain. As mentioned by Relief Web (2018), estimated 2 million people will become severely food insecure due to the drought. The Afghans have attempted to reach beyond the borders of the nation, but not much aid has been given due to the dangerous circumstances of war.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rates of Afghanistan are increasing. As reported by Trading Economics, 8.90 percent of the Afghan population is unemployed in 2018 and is projected to reach 9.00 percent in 2020. These unemployment rates affect income which prevent the ability to purchase food. In addition, the Afghan nation does not produce much of its own crops. Related to the poor climate, crops have failed to grow due to the lack of water in the fields. Afghans have been looking for alternatives in order to survive, Tens of thousands of sheep and goats have died and many farmers have eaten the seeds for the next planting season, as rivers and wells dry up and pastures turn to dust. (Haidary) . If the farmers are eating the seeds, there will be no seeds left for production. In relation, Yemen is considered subtropical dry. The nation struggles with freshwater management and unusual weather patterns (Haidera, 473). With the lack of water, Yemen’s crops could fail to reach harvest. This failure . As stated by Relief Web, Poor food consumption has increased by 44 percent over the past two years, affecting now more than one in four households Not only is the food production decreasing, but so are employment rates. According to Trading Economics, the unemployment rates have increased from 13.5 percent to 14 percent between the years of 2014 and 2017. These unemployment rates contribute to poverty, which then lead to citizens not having enough money to make food purchases, with over half the population living on less than $2 per day (Colton). With these circumstances, Afghanistan and Yemen await further struggling during their development.
As mentioned before, Afghanistan and Yemen are dealing with climate, economic and production issues which slows the development of their nations. However, GM crops could unravel these issues. In response to poor climate, the National Institutes of Health claims, Engineering DRO1, AlaAT, PSTOL1, PTXD/Phi and the PHR1-Pi-SPX complex represent interesting approaches with the potential to improve crops for harsh environments (L??pez-Arredondo). In other words, the alternation of a gene, which can survive water stress, is prolonged to survive drought. In this case, countries with drought issues could plant their own crops and help feed the population. The plantation and harvesting of GMO crops have been proven more efficient, this cuts down on prices which helps save money. Michael Stebbins (2016) claims It is important to recognize that the real price of food and feed products has fallen consistently during the last 50 years. The rise of new technology and techniques have made America a lot of money. If developing countries picked up these new techniques they would be able to save money, and feed the population. Last but not least, GM crops will improve production rates. Crop yield has been improved due to insect-resistant crops, Insect-resistant (IR) crop technology used in cotton and corn has consistently improved yields by reducing the damage caused by pests. (PG Economics). The less crops insects destroy, the more crops will live to harvesting. In conclusion, genetically modified crops will have an overall positive impact on developing countries.
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