Genetic foods have become a hot-button issues these past years due to the worry concerning their safety and the health of those that ingest them. Right now, people are pretty clearly split about whether genetically altering foods is beneficial to the world as a whole or if they are leading us down a terrible road that ends with widespread illness. Here are a few things to consider.
When one mentions genetically altering foods, this could mean either by taking the DNA from certain plants and bacteria and injecting them into an entirely different plant, resulting in a new crop with different properties, or simply just using selective breeding techniques to produce plants along a desired path. An example of the former would be finding ways to produce pesticide-resistant crops. An example of the latter would be to produce seedless crops.
The critical thing to consider in the debate is whether these genetically altered crops do actually harm humans, and thus far studies have come back with a big thumbs-up in favor of the genetically modified food. So far, nothing radically drastic has been done to crops, so we’re not at the point where we have plants that can harvest themselves or can withstand a tractor or something along those lines. The most that has been done is the aforementioned pesticide resistance, as well as some climate-resistant examples so that crops can withstand more severe heat or cold.
Changing the genetic makeup to allow crops to resist the effects of pesticides reduces the amount of pesticide actually needed, as well as the amount of insects attacking the crops. It lets crops grow relatively unhindered by the surrounding environment, allowing for fewer instances of entire crops being devastated by a pest outbreak or unforeseen weather conditions.
Furthermore, the FDA has been careful to check into every new genetically altered crop to ensure that it isn’t dangerous and harmful to humans. What this means is that a certain amount of trust is needed when buying foods, and sadly it also means that if you’re against genetic foods for health reasons, it could come down to a general mistrust of the FDA and other regulatory branches of the US government. Unfortunately, that’s the way the system works.
So then, can genetically engineered food solve world hunger? At this exact moment, we aren’t sure. No one can agree whether the world is facing a food crisis based on the lack of food or just the distribution and politics behind the food, which is a crucial distinction. If the world is suffering from a lack of food on the production level, then genetic foods can be created that grow faster and more plentiful, but if it comes down to distribution and politics, then the food itself isn’t the issue.
Norman Borlaug, one of the most prolific scientists in the food world, developed stronger wheat that could grow faster and yield more, thus helping nations all over the world with food shortages. Over the course of his life, he created more than enough methods for producing food at an efficient rate, some of which through genetic crossbreeding. According to his studies, this was the way for future generations to eliminate world hunger completely.
Coming to a decision of what you believe concerning genetic foods will not be an easy task, nor should it be. It’s a serious issue to consider, one that effects not only our health but the health of future generations. But if we can safely wipe out world hunger by means of tampering with plant DNA, why shouldn’t we?