Genetically modified (GM) foods have been a popular topic of debate for many years. The New Humanitarian reported that a clause was put into the 2013 United States agriculture bill to ban their department of agriculture from stopping, or preventing, the growth of GM crops (Kindra, 2013). Which leads to question what the real issue is? GM crops, or the people managing the crops? In this essay, it will be argued that the improvement of knowledge and skill can make GM food a solution to hunger.
The first factor to be discussed is the monetary benefits of GM food. Garcia-Yi, Lapikanonth, Vionita, Vu, Yang, Zhong, Li, Nagelschneider, Schlindwein & Wesseler (2014: 2) mentioned that the use of GM crops enables farmers to lessen their input and increase their output. Although, many would argue that less fortunate farmers cannot afford the necessary technology. This is why the Minister of Agriculture in Bangladesh provided “2001 farmers” with “20 grams of seed and 15 kilograms of DAP and MoP fertilizers” (Siddique, 2014). Hence, farmers can use their remaining funding for the technology needed to maintain given products and improve the safety of consumption.
Moreover, GM foods are mostly known for the impact they have on human health. Medical News Today suggests that food can be engineered to be more nutritious and repel certain harmful pesticides (Barrell, 2019). Unfortunately, these foods can trigger severe allergies, which are life-threatening for some people. Luckily South Africa has mandatory labelling regulations in place that can prevent allergies from being triggered. The Consumer Protection Act (CPA, 2008) Regulation 293 from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) forces all GMO producers to label the products they supply. Therefore, consumers can be informed about the ingredients and manage what they consume.
Management of GM crops can make or break the industry. If resources are used effectively, GM crops can provide many benefits. As mentioned in Garcia-Yi et al (2014), GM crops have grown from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 160 million hectares in 2011. Mismanagement, however, can cause great damage. This is illustrated by outcrossing, where GM crops originally approved for animal feed, were reportedly found in food meant for human consumption (Barrell, 2019). Would this have happened in New Zealand, the polluter – the one responsible for this mistake – would be liable for the damage caused (Kyle & Terry, 2005: 32).
Many scientists claim that the risks GM foods entail are good enough to discontinue the evolution of GM crops (Pinstrup-Anderson & Schiøler, 2003: 87). In the same breath, the authors talk about how nothing in life is certain and that to grow we must learn from our mistakes. Thus, keeping the above-mentioned research in mind, it is clear that when we improve the factors involved, GM food can be a great asset to the world. The usage of GM crops can decrease the extreme hunger that can be found in Africa, as well as other parts of the world.
- Zaluckyj, A. 2017. How GMO crops can help farmers and the environment. [Online]. Available: https://ussoy.org/how-gmo-crops-help-farmers-and-the-environment/?utm_source=adwords&utm_term=&utm_campaign=&utm_medium=ppc&hsa_mt=b&hsa_ad=386925418074&hsa_net=adwords&hsa_src=g&hsa_kw=&hsa_tgt=dsa-465899196882&hsa_cam=6662748131&hsa_acc=7605856496&hsa_ver=3&hsa_grp=77801962503&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI69fa7PHy6QIVFuDtCh1njQaoEAAYASAAEgLXffD_BwE [Accessed 8 June 2020].
- Kindra, J. 2013. Subsidies and GM crops back on food policy menu. [Online]. Available: https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/feature/2013/04/09/subsidies-and-gm-crops-back-food-policy-menu [Accessed 8 June 2020].
- Pinstrup-Anderson, P. & Schiøler, E. 2003. Seeds of Contention: World Hunger and the Global Controversy Over GM Crops. [Online]. Available: https://books.google.co.za/books?hl=en&lr=&id=NtY6AwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=per+pinstrup+andersen&ots=_c4luO56ZS&sig=TAXwuoA4eVSHGEFcTpgs_xe0ptk&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false [Accessed 8 June 2020].
- Kyle, J. & Terry, S. 2005. Community Management of GMOs II: Risks and Response Options. [Online]. Available: http://www.wdc.govt.nz/PlansPoliciesandBylaws/Plans/Genetic-Engineering/Documents/GE-Reports/Community-Management-of-GMOs-2.pdf [Accessed 8 June 2020].
- Siddique, A. 2017. Bangladesh to provide incentives for farmers to grow more GMO Bt eggplant. [Online]. Available: https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2017/10/24/bangladesh-to-provide-incentives-farmers-grow-more-gmo-bt-eggplant/ [Accessed 8 June 2020].
- Biosafety. 2020. The labelling of GM foods in South Africa. [Online]. Available: http://biosafety.org.za/information/know-the-basics/gmo-safety/the-labelling-of-gm-foods-in-south-africa [Accessed 8 June 2020].
- Barrell, A. 2019. What are the pros and cons of GMO foods? [Online]. Available: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324576 [Accessed 8 June 2020].