With the agriculture industry’s increasing reliance on mutant seeds, which were used in 90 percent of American corn last year, counteracted by the recent passage of mandatory GMO-labeling laws in Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut (with Oregon and Colorado likely to follow suit), GMOs are on the tips of our tongues—and at the bottoms of American stomachs—like never before. As with most deeply polarizing subjects, the pros and cons are manifold (and don’t get us started on the gray areas — Fox News, September 25
The Fall UIL LD resolution asks the question of whether or not the benefits of Genetically Modified Foods (GMF) are worth the risks
This is a very straight-forward resolution with precise terminology and that engages a very controversial issues that has strong arguments on both sides. This topic is very well balanced.
In this essay, I will review some of the key terminology in the debate, discuss arguments on both sides of the resolution, and make some suggestions for important strategic comparisons that will help both sides.
Given the length of the discussion, I have divided the essay into three parts: Introduction, Pro, and Con.
There are only a few key terms in the resolution.
GM Foods. Genetically modified foods are foods (at this stage, just plants and vegetables) that are produced as a result of genetic modification. This modification occurs when a crops DNA (dixio…) is modified through the use of genetic engineering techniques that introduce a new trait to the plant that does not otherwise occur in that plant in nature. Examples of changes include those that make the plants resistance to pesticides that are sprayed to kill other insects, the addition of extra nutrients, and faster growth.
Sheetal Ann Lamichhane, 2014, Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Jawaharalal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, Adhartal, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA, International Journal of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. ISSN 0974 3073 Volume 5, Number 1 (2014), pp. 43-48 http://www.ripublication.com/irph/ijgeb-spl/ijgebv5n1_06.pdf Genetically Modified Foods – Solution for Global Food Security. DOA 9/29/14
2. What are GM foods?
Genetically modified foods also known as biotech foods that are developed from genetically modified organisms. GM crops are the crops whose DNA has been modified by using genetic engineering techniques, with the aim to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species. Specific changes are made in the DNA of these crops by genetic engineering techniques that encourage extra nutrients to be produced, faster growth and ability to resist diseases and other purposes. Almost in every area in the food production market is using genetic modification to produce foods that taste better, grow faster, resist disease and improve the amount of nutrients found in the world.
Notable GM crops include alfalfa, corn, cotton (not a food but still a crop), and papaya. A full list with additional explanation of all of the crops is provided at the end of the essay.
Most GM foods are crops, but t genetically modified fish have been developed and there are number of genetically modified animals under development as well as animal types that have been genetically modified.
Food & Water Watch, 2014, Genetically Engineered Foods: An Overview, http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/Genetically_Engineered_Food_2014.pdf#_ga=1.230313434.756381438.1411932055 DOA 9/28/14
There are fewer transgenic animals than GE crops, but the number of new GE animals that are awaiting government approval has accelerated. Genetically engineered animals and biotechnology livestock treatments are designed either to boost production or to insert traits that may compensate for the negative impacts of factory-farmed livestock. Dairy products were the first bioengineered animal products in the food supply.In 1990, the FDA determined that chymosin, a cheese-manufacturing enzyme produced using a “safe” strain of genetically engineered E. coli bacteria, was “generally recognized as safe”; by 2001, the bioengineered enzymes were used to produce 60 percent of hard cheese in the United States…. The OIG reported that between 2001 and 2003, the University of Illinois allowed at least 386 GE pigs from a study to be slaughtered and sold for human consumption, even though GE pigs have never been approved for U.S. consumption.97 Genetic engineers commonly use fish as research subjects because their external eggs simplify the manipulation of DNA.98 Transgenic fish are being produced for food, for use in pharmaceuticals and to test water quality. In 2010, the FDA approved the first GE fish for human consumption.100 This is despite that fact that a 2004 National Research Council report concluded that that GE seafood posed food safety risks either by the introduction of known or unknown allergens.101 The GE fish under consideration is Aquabounty’s AquAdvantage salmon, which combines genes from the ocean pout (a member of the eel family) and the chinook salmon to create an Atlantic salmon that grows to market size twice as fast as non-GE salmon. The GE fish under consideration is Aquabounty’s AquaAdvantage Salmon, which combines genes from the ocean pout (a member of the eel family)and the Chinook salmon to create an Atlantic salmon that Aquabounty acknowledges that it cannot guarantee that its transgenic fish will not escape from salmon farms.103 Although the biotech salmon purportedly would be sterile, the large, voracious GE salmon could out-compete wild fish for food, habitat and mates but then fail to successfully reproduce, effectively driving wild salmon to extinction.104 Moreover, carnivorous farmed fish eat pellets made from wild fish, among other ingredients.105 GE salmon would require more wild-caught fishmeal feed than non-GE fish, putting more strain on ocean fish populations to provide feed.
The significance of the strength of arguments on both sides of the debate is demonstrated by the fact that while in some countries, such as the United States and Brazil, permit (without a substantial amount of regulation) the development and consumption of genetically modified foods, that other countries, including many in Europe do not permit such production and consumption.
David H. Freedman, 2013, August 20, Freedman has been covering science, business and technology for 30 years. His most recent book, Wrong, explores the forces that cause scientists and other experts to mislead us, Scientific American, The Truth About Genetically Modified Food. DOA: 9/28/14, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-truth-about-genetically-modified-food/?page=1 DOA: 9/27/14
Despite such promise, much of the world has been busy banning, restricting and otherwise shunning GM foods. Nearly all the corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified, but only two GM crops, Monsanto’s MON810 maize and BASF’s Amflora potato, are accepted in the European Union. Eight E.U. nations have banned GM crops outright. Throughout Asia, including in India and China, governments have yet to approve most GM crops, including an insect-resistant rice that produces higher yields with less pesticide. In Africa, where millions go hungry, several nations have refused to import GM foods in spite of their lower costs (the result of higher yields and a reduced need for water and pesticides). Kenya has banned them altogether amid widespread malnutrition. No country has definite plans to grow Golden Rice, a crop engineered to deliver more vitamin A than spinach (rice normally has no vitamin A), even though vitamin A deficiency causes more than one million deaths annually and half a million cases of irreversible blindness in the developing world.
Benefits. The benefits simply refer to the (potential) advantages of the GM foods.
Risks. The harms simply refer to the (potential) problems that are caused by the GM foods.
There are a couple of things to consider, however, when debating “risks.”
First, what risks? This evidence describes environmental, economic, and health risks.
Rod A. Herman, Meibao Zhuang, Nicholas P. Storer, Filip Cnudd, Bryan Delaney, January 2019, Trends in Plant Science, https://www.cell.com/trends/plant-science/fulltext/S1360-1385(18)30230-9, Risk-Only Assessment of Genetically Engineered Crops Is Risk, Authors are from Agriculture Division of DowDuPont TM,
The risks of not considering benefits in risk assessment are often overlooked. Risks are also often evaluated without consideration of the broader context. We discuss these two concepts in relation to genetically engineered (GE) crops. The health, environmental, and economic risks and benefits of GE crops are exemplified and presented in the context of modern agriculture.
You could make arguments that GMOs present unique risks in one of these areas (concentrating your arguments on that area) and then argue that area is that most important.
Second, risks to whom? You could argue the risks are worth it or not worth it for a particular group in society and argue that groups is the most important.
Sheldon Krimsky, 2019, GMOs Decoded A Skeptic’s View of Genetically Modified Foods Krimsky, Sheldon. GMOs Decoded (Food, Health, and the Environment) . The MIT Press. Kindle Edition. [Sheldon Krimsky, professor of urban and environmental policy and planning, received a B.S. and M.S. in physics at Brooklyn College and Purdue University, respectively, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in philosophy at Boston University. He has taught at the University of South Florida, Boston University, SUNY at Stony Brook, and Wesleyan University. He has served on the national Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee of NIH, chaired the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of AAAS, is an Elected Fellow of the AAAS, and has been a consultant to the Office of Technology Assessment, U.S. Congress. He is on the Board of Directors of the Council for Responsible Genetics, serves on the editorial board of seven journals, and has published numerous essays on regulation and the social and ethical aspects of science and technology. He is the author of Genetic Alchemy, Biotechnics and Society, Hormonal Chaos, and Science in the Private Interest; co-author of Environmental Hazards and Agricultural Biotechnology and the Environment; and co-editor of Social Theories of Risk. His current research focuses on the role of science in public policy, environmental policy, social theories of risk, biotechnology, and chemicals in the environment.]
And we also have to address the risks of not accepting a product or technology. Some prominent voices argue that opposing the development of Golden Rice could result in preventable cases of blindness and mortality. Risks and their acceptance or rejection must be applied fairly in examining pro-GMO and anti-GMO stakeholders. Moreover, the issue of justice demands that we ask, Risks for whom and benefits for whom? From one perspective, some risks to vulnerable developing world farmers and consumers may be less acceptable than the same risks to Western industrial farmers and consumers. Yet some have argued that those dealing with food scarcity should be willing to take more risks in growing and consuming GMOs or in accepting food aid. There is also the issue of unintended consequences, which are the consequences that cannot be clearly articulated or measured. It is highly problematic to include unintended consequences or acceptable risk in a risk assessment. In the field of technology assessment, the best that can be done is to test the product in sufficiently varied settings at extreme conditions that will reveal any possible unintended consequences (see chapter 9). When a company sells a food product whose manufacturing process results in unintended consequences for the consumer, the U.S Food and Drug Administration takes action. The agency dealing with food scarcity should be willing to take more risks in growing and consuming GMOs or in accepting food aid. There is also the issue of unintended consequences, which are the consequences that cannot be clearly articulated or measured. It is highly problematic to include unintended consequences or acceptable risk in a risk assessment. In the field of technology assessment, the best that can be done is to test the product in sufficiently varied settings at extreme conditions that will reveal any possible unintended consequences (see chapter 9). When a company sells a food product whose manufacturing process results in unintended consequences for the consumer, the U.S Food and Drug Administration takes action. The agency chronic. My approach to addressing these questions has been to examine the scientific literature deeply and fairly. I chose not to impose a theoretical perspective on selecting the literature or on following any single line of reasoning. If I was guided by any framework at all, it would be by one of Robert Merton’s basic norms of science, “organized skepticism,” which influenced my approach to each issue and allowed the evidence to reveal itself from the breadth and depth of the scientific literature. Krimsky, Sheldon. GMOs Decoded (Food, Health, and the Environment) . The MIT Press. Kindle Edition.
Outweigh. “Outweigh” simply means that one is more important than the other. For example, it could be argued that the benefits of studying for a math test outweigh the harms of studying for a math test (less time to social with friends, less time for sports, etc). To win that one argument outweighs the other, you do not have to win that one argument is not valid at all (e.g., that there are no problems with GM foods but only that one is simply net beneficial.
There are basically four types of arguments that can be utilized either individually or in combination with others to demonstration that either the benefits outweigh the harms or the harms outweigh the benefits.
Impact comparison. One side could simply argue that their impact(s) are bigger than the other side(s) impact(s). For example, the Pro could argue that GM crops are needed to prevent the millions are people from starving and that this outweighs problems caused potential cancer and other health harms that might be created through the genetic modification
Probability. The Con side could argue that the chances of millions of people starving due to a lack of GM food is low but that the health harms are an ever present and known reality.
Time frame. One side could argue that their impacts happen faster than the other. For example, the Pro could argue that people will die before any type of “Frankenstein food” develops.
Risk assessment is really just a calculation of probability * magnitude + some consideration of time-frame. There is no way to make this a statistical calculation in the debates, but it is useful to think in terms of –
Very low risk
When making arguments about “what outweighs what” in the final speeches.
(c) Probability. Risks of “super weeds” and “super viruses” are very speculative. People need to eat now.
Four, as already discussed, the Pro should argue that GM foods are good and should be distributed in better ways than they are now.
Sheldon Krimsky, 2019, GMOs Decoded A Skeptic’s View of Genetically Modified Foods
Krimsky, Sheldon. GMOs Decoded (Food, Health, and the Environment) . The MIT Press. Kindle Edition. [Sheldon Krimsky, professor of urban and environmental policy and planning, received a B.S. and M.S. in physics at Brooklyn College and Purdue University, respectively, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in philosophy at Boston University. He has taught at the University of South Florida, Boston University, SUNY at Stony Brook, and Wesleyan University. He has served on the national Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee of NIH, chaired the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of AAAS, is an Elected Fellow of the AAAS, and has been a consultant to the Office of Technology Assessment, U.S. Congress. He is on the Board of Directors of the Council for Responsible Genetics, serves on the editorial board of seven journals, and has published numerous essays on regulation and the social and ethical aspects of science and technology. He is the author of Genetic Alchemy, Biotechnics and Society, Hormonal Chaos, and Science in the Private Interest; co-author of Environmental Hazards and Agricultural Biotechnology and the Environment; and co-editor of Social Theories of Risk. His current research focuses on the role of science in public policy, environmental policy, social theories of risk, biotechnology, and chemicals in the environment.]
The term GMO stands for “genetically modified organism.” It can apply to bacteria, viruses, plants, or animals. Other terms—such as transgenic crops or genetically engineered (GE) crops—are used specifically for plants. Some subsets of GMOs consist of GE crops. Other GMOs were developed for agriculture but are not crops, such as genetically engineered microorganisms. When the first GE crops were introduced, the seeds or plant parts (such as root cuttings for asexual reproduction) were patented and thus became protected intellectual property.
Notable GM Crops
Notable genetically engineered crops
Food & Water Watch, 2014, Genetically Engineered Foods: An Overview, http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/Genetically_Engineered_Food_2014.pdf#_ga=1.230313434.756381438.1411932055 DOA 9/28/14
ALFALFA; The USDA approved Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa, an important forage crop for livestock, in 2005 In 2007, organic alfalfa producers challenged the USDA’s approval on grounds that GE alfalfa could contaminate and wipe out non-GE alfalfa.42 The USDA’s 2010 Environmental Impact Statement demonstrated the potential negative economic impacts for organic and conventional alfalfa farmers, including increased costs needed to prevent contamination, duced demand and lost markets due to contamination. Nonetheless, the USDA approved GE alfalfa without any planting restrictions in January 2011.
APPLE: The USDA is currently considering approving Okanagan Specialty Fruits’ reduced-bruising Arctic Apple, which would be aimed at the packaged pre-sliced apple market.
CORN: In 2011, the USDA approved Syngenta’s amylase corn, which produces an enzyme that facilitates ethanol production.46 Although the corn is intended specifically for ethanol use, the USDA determined that it was also safe for food and animal feed, allowing it to be planted alongside GE corn destined for the human and animal food supply.47 Contamination of corn destined for the food supply is possible, especially without a buffer zone to minimize wind pollination.48 Even the USDA admits that contamination of high-value organic, blue, and white corns may produce “undesirable effects” during cooking, like darkened color or softened texture.
PAPAYA: In 1999, the EPA approved two papaya varieties that are resistant to the papaya ringspot virus.50 GE papayas constituted 30 percent of Hawaii’s papaya cultivation in 1999, rising to 77 percent by 2009.51 The USDA approved a third ringspot-resistant papaya in 2009.
POTATO:In 1995, the EPA and the FDA approved Monsanto’s Colorado potato beetle-resistant NewLeaf potato. Monsanto withdrew the potato from the market in 2001 but maintains it may return to potato research in the future.54 In 2010, the European Union approved German chemical company BASF’s Amflora potato for cultivation, although the crop is designed for industrial paper and textile use, not for food.55 Amflora was the EU’s first GE approval since 1998.56 The USDA is currently considering the approval of a low-acrylamide, reduced-bruising potato produced by McDonald’s major supplier, J.R. Simplot.
RICE: In 1982, The Rochefeller Foundation launched the Golden Rice initiative to combat vitamin A deficiency, which annually causes blindness in a quarter-million malnourished children worldwide.58 The first Golden Rice strain failed to deliver enough biofortified beta-carotene to address vitamin A deficiency. Golden Rice must undergo field tests and receive approval by Bangladesh and the Philippines’ regulators before being released into target markets in the developing world.
SALFLOWER: In 2007, the USDA approved field tests for a safflower variety engineered by the Canadian company SemBioSys to produce proinsulin, a precursor to human insulin. Although safflower primarily self-pollinates, insects could still cross-pollinate conventional safflower crops with GE pharmaceutical traits.63 Gene flow also can occur if birds carry the GE seeds outside of the testing area.64 Despite the contamination risk, SemBioSys has an application pending to bring the GE pharmaceutical to market and is continuing field trials in the United States.
SOYBEAN:In the past few years, the USDA has approved two soybeans designed to have healthier oil profiles. December 2011, the USDA approved a soybean lower in saturated fat, and in July 2012 it approved a soybean with higher omega-3 fatty acids.
SUGAR BEET: The USDA approved Monsanto’s Roundup Ready sugar beet in 2005 after determining that cultivation poses no risks to other plants, animals or the environment. In 2008, the Center for Food Safety and the Sierra Club challenged the approval in court on grounds that the USDA’s Environmental Assessment ignored important environmental and economic impacts.69 The USDA finally approved GE sugar beets in July 2012.
SWEET CORN: In 2011, Monsanto announced that its Roundup Ready sweet corn would be available for planting. Although sweet corn is Monsanto’s first commercialized GE vegetable, the USDA swiftly approved it since the seed’s traits — insect resistance and glyphosate tolerance — were previously approved for other crops in 2005 and 2008.
TOMATO: In 1991, DNA Plant Technology Corporation used a gene from the winter flounder (a type of flatfish) to create a cold-tolerant tomato.73 The crop was approved for field trials but was never approved for sale or commercialized. In 1992, Calgene’s Favr Savr tomato, engineered to stay fresher longer, was the first GE food on the market, although it later was withdrawn from the market due to harvesting problems and lack of demand.
WHEAT: In 2002, Monsanto petitioned the USDA to ap prove Roundup Ready red spring wheat, the first GE crop designed primarily for human food consumption rather than for livestock feed or for a processed food ingredient.76 Given that Japan and the EU have different restrictions for GE food crops, the large-scale cultivation of GE wheat could damage options for US wheat exports. A 2004 Iowa State study forecasted that approving GE wheat could lower U.S. wheat exports by 30 to 50 percent and depress prices for both GE and conventional wheat.Because of export concerns, Monsanto abandoned GE wheat field trials before obtaining commercial approval, although the company resumed research in 2009.
AATF African Agricultural Technology Foundation
AECI African Explosives and Chemical Industries
AGERI Agricultural Genetic Engineering Research Institute
ARC Agricultural Research Council
BRICs Biotechnology Regional Innovation Centres
BMS black Mexican sweetcorn
BSE bovine spongiform encephalopathy
CaMV cauliflower mosaic virus
CFT confined field trials
CMV cassava mosaic virus
CP coat protein
CSIR Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
EFSA European Food Safety Authority F
ARA Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa
FRD Foundation for Research Development
GMOs genetically modified organisms
HT herbicide tolerant
Hrap hypersensitivity response assisting protein
IAC InterAcademy Council IDC Industrial Development Corporation
IDRC International Development Research Centre
IFOAM International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements
IITA International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
ILRI International Livestock Research Institute
ISAAA International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications
JKUAT Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
KARI Kenya Agricultural Research Institute
LMCB Laboratory for Molecular and Cell Biology
MIHR Management of Intellectual Property in Health Research and Development
MRC Medical Research Council
MSD maize streak disease
NACI National Advisory Committee on Innovation
NARO National Agricultural Research Organisation
NASFAM National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi
NBA National Biosafety Agency NBAC National Biotechnology Advisory Committee
OECD Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
Pflp sweet pepper ferrodoxin-like protein
PIPRA Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture
PTM potato tuber moth Rep replication associated protein
RNAi RNA interference
SADC Southern African Development Community
SAGENE South African Committee for Genetic Experimentation
SAWISE South African Women in Science and Engineering
TIA Technical Innovation Agency
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organization
UPOV Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants
USAID US Agency for International Development
USHEPiA University Science, Engineering and Humanities Partnerships in Africa
WECARD West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development
Wits University of the Witwatersrand