The research has shown that genetically modified (GM) crops have economic and public health impacts in the society. The realization of these influences depends on the views of those who consume such products. Their concerns regarding genetically modified crops have raised several queries and the extent to which their knowledge interprets the assessment of the relevant products. The present essay scrutinizes the knowledge on supposed danger and behaviors of consumers in relation to GM crops. The results show that genetically modified crops reduce the risk of human diseases since it is resistant to many harmful herbicides. It also increases the crop yield significantly, which, in its turn, earns the farmer the profit. Apart from that, the research analyzes different risks associated with GM crops that reduce the tendency of consumers to buy such products. The findings suggest that the cooperation of the key figures in food production should enhance the adoption of technology in crop production.
The agriculture industry has usually supported the development of technology, mostly in the field that deals with the improvement of genetic crop. For years, the industry has engaged itself in the production of varieties of food through mixing the genetic traits of seeds naturally. GM seeds have played an important role in the production and the improvement of the agricultural products. Such plants have been modified to have characteristics such as resistance to herbicides and pests. Overall, the modification method of these seeds varies from one way to another. Although the abovementioned approach looks effective, many people fear that the result may have health and economic impacts that have not been sufficiently addressed. For that reason, many farmers face this technology with opposition. Similarly, there have been mixed reaction towards its use with some farmers embracing the technology and others becoming hesitant. This paper will discuss the economic and public health impacts of genetically modified crops.
Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops
The growing of GM crops leads to the reduction in the use of toxic chemicals or a shift to the low toxic chemicals by the farmers. This is important because it reduces the potential use of many chemicals that cause human diseases, particularly in infants and children. Furthermore, GM crops tolerate herbicide, thus facilitating the farmers to use particular herbicides that can destroy the weeds without damaging their crop. For example, most of the GM crops are designed to resist glyphosate, a widely used herbicide and an ingredient used in the Roundup which is used to kill weeds. Similarly, there are other benefits of insect resistant crops to the environment such as minimum water supply contamination, less harm to insects that are not targeted as well as reduced chemical contamination by the farm workers. Such effects, in turn, may be helpful to biodiversity, as compared to conventional crops that are sprayed with regular broad-spectrum pesticide. For example,the farmers from China and South Africa have reportedly benefited from the low use of pesticides in their farm.
Moreover, the development of genetically modified herbicide resistant crops has led to the achievement of high crop yields, especially in the third world countries where there are several cases of crop failures as a result of extreme weather conditions. As a result, GM crops have enormously improved the economy of a country. The study done in 1997 by Economic Research Service (ERS) established a statistical important relationship between improved crop yields and improved herbicide adoption and pesticide tolerant crop seeds. This study found that there was an increase in crop yields as a result of farmers adopting crops that tolerate herbicide, which, in turn, increased their profits. For example, the GM soybean crops earned farmers about $208.42 net value per acre, compared to $191.56, the net value of other crops.
Beyond the herbicide resistance, the GM crops contain an additional amount of nutrients that lacks in many people from the developing countries. According to Louv, this improvement in the nutritional quality of foods can help to alleviate the hunger and the related malnutrition diseases. For example, the modification of the golden quality rice to enhance B-Carotene level can help to relieve vitamin A deficiency, a disorder that affects a large number of children under the age five years by causing blindness. Moreover, the new soybeans contain the fatty acids that are recommended for improving cardiovascular health conditions. Soybeans comprise substances known as isoflavones that reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol level and prevent other diseases of breast and prostate. This product also reduces hot flashes that are common during the menopause.
However, there are also impending risks associated with the technological production of the crop. For example, the antibiotic resistance genes that are used in marking GM crops have been a major concern for human health. According to Cardillo, the genes can possibly be transmitted to bacteria living in the intestinal linings of the livestock and in the gastrointestinal tract of the human, hence making it hard to treat with the use of antibiotics. Even though the study shows few chances of the gene transfer, some researchers argue that the use of a gene marker poses the possible important threat to human health, especially at a time when cases of antibiotic resistance are on the rise. Similarly, the United Kingdom's Royal Society has expressed their reservation about the application of the gene marker by warning people against using it in order to avoid the increase in the number of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. Furthermore, the expert group of the Medical Research Council of the U.K. suggested the removal of antibiotic resistance genes from GM foods even if the likelihood of transfer is low.
Glysophate, one of the chemicals that is commonly used in GM crops and preparation of Round-up, may cause disruption of the endocrine system. Presently, the study has revealed that glycophyte interrupts the human placenta cells, the expression of the gene, as well as the enzyme aromatase activity, which is used in the production of estrogen, at a lower concentration than used on GM crops. The additional application of surfactants in the Round-up increases toxicity and related effects because the chemicals enable the access of glyphosate into cells. When used in higher doses than the one used in agriculture, glyphosate produces toxic substances to placental cells, thus increasing reproduction problems in human beings. The USA uses about 44 million or more tons of glyphosate every year, a situation that leaves many agricultural workers exposed to the danger. Such threat relates to glyphosate that may remain in soils and pollute freshwater ecosystems, thus gaining access to the water supply and the food chain.
The widespread use of the insect and herbicide resistant crops could lead to the development of resistant insects and weeds, respectively. According to Druker, such effect frequently happen when the farmers spray their crops, using conventional herbicide and insecticide. Several species of the weed have become resistant to certain herbicides that are widely used together with herbicide-resistant genetically modified crops. For example, weed resistant to the Roundup has become a severe problem in South America and the USA. This situation has led to the use of additional herbicides to control the same weeds, which in turn results in the toxicity of the environment and food.
Another possible impact of GM crops on human health is associated with a high likelihood of potential of toxins or allergy-causing substances to be produced through the transferred genetic material. Furthermore, such compounds may arise accidentally through the further modification of the plant chemistry and gene promoters, as well as through activities of inserting gene changes, or by unintentionally changing the functioning of genes of the host organism. Although there are still concerns, the modern practice of crop production has banned the transfer of genes allergens or genes from certain allergenic species, thus reducing the likelihood of allergens.
In conclusion, there are many ethical issues in regard to the production and consumption of genetically modified crops. The issues relates to negative and positive impacts of these crops, and hence this technological production of food cannot be adopted fully neither can it be rejected. GM crops may be recommended to the farmers experiencing low crop yields, although there are uncertainties surrounding it that make people express reservation about its consumption. Therefore, there is a need to foster cooperation between the governments, research institutions, as well the industries that deal with the production of food to embrace good communication strategies that will improve the knowledge of the consumer, reduce their risk perceptions, and inspire them to adopt the technology. Moreover, every farmer needs to educate himself or herself about this technology and to make an informed decision on whether to adopt it or not.