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A company working on such a goal might claim that the intent is to use less pesticides, but really they just want to decrease the cost of production.
Another example of why a food organism might be modified is to make the final product more resilient to the means of distribution, such as what is seen with tomatoes being genetically modified to have more resilient skins, so they can be grown, harvested and distributed in mass. Many think of these types of modifications as positive, for the development of sustainable food growth, to feed a growing population, more efficiently and effectively. In many ways the positive aspects of this trend are good, and yet genetically modified plants and foods also create potential threats. Some examples of this are plants that if left on their own can overcome natural and indigenous plants, such as are seen with grain crops that have resilient single rather than traditional natural bush like growth. As these plants overtake the grasses that grow in clumps, the protection for the soil changes, even outside of the agricultural area, and fires spread more rapidly. ("Give a Weed an" c1) Another example would be the modifications of plants to resist common predators, chemical, insect or animal.
Plants are designed by nature to grow in certain climates within a naturally controlled setting, if one plan grows so successfully that it eliminates its predators, say an insect, then that insect will naturally die off and the purpose it serves, which we may not know is not fulfilled. This may be at the source of the recent death of millions of essential bees that pollinate plants. This loss, though still evolving is likely multi-causal but will create a massive future food shortage, if it continues at the present rate. This phenomena might also be as a result of hundreds of years of unfettered use of pesticides and herbicides, but it is an example of the importance of treading lightly on the earth. (Gaudet 32) Another not on this issue is that there are no laws or regulations, for the most part to control how a crop is grown, secondary to property rights, and therefore growth of certain crops over and over in one area can create soil depletion.
Another reason why genetic modification of food organisms is dangerous is because biodiversity can be severely reduced when only the high yield, resistant varieties of a particular plant are grown or animal food organism supported all others fall by the wayside and may eventually be eliminated from the whole food chain. (Cook 17) the reduction of biodiversity is occurring on a regular basis for many reasons but one of them is that genetically modified food organisms, grown on a massive scale to provide a greater return overtake the place of other more diverse crops. Moving non-indigenous plants and animals into areas, or breeding them to do better can also cause them to overtake those which are native to the region.
The sustainability or "green" movements have certainly made more of an issue of genetically modified foods in recent years but neither opponents of proponents of GM are able to fully explore the issue form both sides. There are clearly positive and clearly negative outcomes to wide spread GM of foods. This leaves a fundamental conversation about how much is to much, and when one has gone to far or not far enough is at stake. So, there is no real modest controls over the manner in which GM is conducted and developed. Though this is changing, as people are becoming more and more aware of the need to better understand and be more responsible consumers of products, and as sustainable practices and sustainable consumerism begin to pervade not only the farm but the family kitchen. (Cook 87) Currently, the industry is responsible, in many ways for policing itself, as laws are slow in coming on this issue, as it has always been guised as wholly positive and this creates an obvious conflict of interest, as companies and organizations seeking higher profit alone may not always have the best interest of the earth or even the consumer in mind. Laws are limited and self-regulation is not always the best policy, with regard to long-term sustainability.
Cook, Guy. Genetically Modified Language: The Discourse of Arguments for GM Crops and Food. New York: Routledge, 2004.
Gaudet, Mary. "Without a Trace: Controversy Buzzes around the Mysterious Disappearance of Bees on Prince Edward Island." Alternatives Journal…[continue]
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