Social and Ethical Implications of GMO’s
There are biotechnology debates about genetically modified organisms in society and can be illustrated with the serious conflict between two groups that are voicing possible benefits and possible drawbacks to GMOs. First, are the Agricultural biotech companies that provide tools to farmers to yield bigger better crops but in the most cost-effective way, also known as Agri-biotech. Agri-biotech investors and their affiliated scientists versus the independent scientists, environmentalists, farmers, and consumers (Maghari 1).
On one hand, you have the Agri-biotech and their affiliates looking toward the future with our growing population believing agricultural biotechnology is a solution to the scarcity of environmental resources. Focusing mainly on issues such as, food shortage, weeds and pests’ infestations that could take over crops. Secondly, you have the independent scientists and their affiliates looking at genetically modified food being introduced to society which comes with a warning of new risks to the environment as a whole; due to the possible effects on food security and human health such as loss of variety of life in the world in a habitat or ecosystem: biodiversity (Maghari 1). The independent scientists and their affiliates believe there will be an emergence of superweeds and superpests, the increase of antibiotic resistance, food allergies and other unintended effects if the use of genetically modified organisms is implemented into society (Maghari 1).
According to Agri-biotech companies, GMO food results in nutrient-fortified staple food by making improvements in plant productivity. Which is why they Agri-biotech over the last 20 years believe implementing GMO food in society is the promising solution to food shortage and malnutrition and is a safe way to grow GM crops by working with seed companies and possibly pharmaceutical companies. However, these claims are not confirmed because the evidence is contrary because consumers worry about long-term human health effects. (Maghari 1). Agri-biotech dependent scientist publicizes GM crops that have herbicide tolerance and pest resistance due to the modified genes. Thus, will lead to a reduction of diminishing greenhouse emissions because there would be no need to plow and therefore a reduction of herbicide and pesticide usage (Maghari 1). The problem that environmentalist have is not just with GMO it is the fact they believe with genetic materials being engineered the ecosystem could transform to having superweeds and superpests interrupt the balance of nature and could cause hazards to insects that are beneficial to our environment (Maghari 1). The evidence that GMO food might not be a good idea for health concerns is based on how GMOs are engineered. The technique is transferring a single gene trait; however, genes don’t function independently from each and the human genome is not a simple collection of independent genes. So, to try to isolate a single gene and create a modified organism to have a trait to have an herbicide tolerance are imprecise and ethical considerations must go beyond simply looking at risk and benefits (Maghari 1).
Genetic engineering techniques according to independent scientist need to include gene optimization steps to minimize these concerns. If optimization steps are not implemented what seems to be a single gene could develop other functions that are not warranted and cause health issues further down the line, like producing proteins that cause allergic reactions. According to environmentalist, there are studies shown that animals feed with Gmo food died, survivors had issues with infertility, so why feed to consumers? (Maghari 1).