In recent years, public awareness of health has increased dramatically, particularly concerns regarding food consumption. The success of major chains that advertise antibiotic-free meat and GMO-free offerings has demonstrated an increased public aversion to GMOs, yet it’s also increased arguments in favor of GMOs. This biggest advocates for GMO usage include the corporate behemoth, Monsanto, “one of the largest and most notorious producers of GMO foods that fill the produce sections of America’s supermarkets” (Eade). However, GMOs are not needed not only due to agricultural overproduction, but also due to their potentially negative effects on the human body and natural environment.
In the developed world, a long-term issue with GMO crops is their “limited usefulness … for the end consumer” (Pechan et al.). Specifically, in the vast majority of industrialized nations, GMO crops are not necessary “simply because there is already agricultural overproduction” (Pechan et al.). Therefore, arguments that GMOs are needed to prevent starvation or food shortages are inaccurate, as the United States and other similar nations have excessive food supplies, not limited food supplies. Even in the developing world, GMOs are not needed, particularly since “hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not by inadequate production of food” (Lo & Ching). Therefore, the key to eliminating starvation is to eliminate poverty and rampant inequality, not dramatically increase the output of food.
Not only are GMOs unnecessary, but they also could be unnecessarily harmful. An excellent example of this includes its potential for increasing bacteria resistance, which would worsen illness for humans. Specifically, “GM crops resistant to certain types of bacteria could contribute to antibiotic resistance by transferring antibiotic resistance genes to microbes living in the human mouth, nose, or gut” (Resnick). When looking beyond the immediate impact on physical bodies, one might also become horrified by the negative environmental impact that companies like Monsanto can have.
Interestingly, Monsanto is banned in numerous countries, including several members of the EU: “The EU also allows member nations to ban GM crops, which Austria and Hungary have done” (Resnik). However, Monsanto thrives in the United States. While some of its success in the United States can be attributed to some consumers’ ignorance or indifference towards the quality of food they consume, but its success can also be attributed to its strong lobbyists in Washington and its routinely high donations to Super PACs. Hopefully, as time progresses, Monsanto’s influence will diminish, particularly given that its products are not a necessary evil after all.
- Eade, Kenneth. Bless the Bees: The Pending Extinction of our Pollinators and What You Can Do
to Stop It. Times Square Publishing, 2017.
- Ho, Mae-Wan and Lim Li Ching. GMO Free: Exposing the Hazards of Biotechnology to Ensure
the Integrity of Our Food Supply. Vital Health Publishing, 2004.
- Pechan, Paul, Ortwin Renn, Allan Watt, and Ingemar Pongratz. Safe or Not Safe: Deciding What
Risks to Accept in Our Environment and Food. Springer Science & Business Media, 2011.
- Resnik, David B. Environmental Health Ethics. Cambridge UP, 2012.