Genetically modified foods are produced by using foreign genes in the plants. Foreign genes are collected from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or from other plants. These genes are inserted into the genetic codes of the plants, which cause a plant faster growth, production of extra nutrients or some other beneficial effects. The techniques of genetic engineering are much more precise than usual mutation breeding. In such technique, experts expose an organism to radiation or chemicals to develop a non-specific but stable change. The main task of the genetic engineering is to alter the genetic makeup of the plant by adding more genes in the plants genome by using various techniques. When the genetic engineering laboratory produces the satisfactory plants with sufficient amount of seeds, then the seeds are tested for field-test and regulatory approval. After passing the tests, the seeds are mass-produced and sold to farmers to produce genetically modified crops, which also contain protein products and inserted genes.
Although, genetically modified crops or foods are produced to eliminate the hunger of global population, still genetic engineering should have the corporate social responsibility (CSR) towards the society during production of such kind of food. Some of the consumer objects to genetically modified foods on ethical grounds and in most of such cases, the consumers have reasons for their opposition. If we consider applied ethics, we should involve in the arguments and the conclusions of GM foods, which state the possibility of harm to living things and to human being. Ethically agricultural biotechnology harms the world by Intrinsic and extrinsic ways.
Extrinsic ways may focus on the potential harms caused by the adaption of GM foods. GM foods have disastrous effects on ecosystems, animals and human. Some of the possible harms may include perpetuation of social inequalities in modern agricultural system, an increasing gap between well capitalized economy of northern hemisphere and poverty of less capitalized south hemisphere, risk of food for the future generation and promotion of exploitative and reductionism science. GM foods can potentially harm ecosystem by possible environmental catastrophe, degradation of air, water and soil. It harms animals by using them in new research and adding unknown chemicals in their bodies.The use of GE is also prohibited under organic standards. As such foods are grown without using synthetic chemicals and irradiation. The standards require attentive care which promotes the health and meets behavioral need of livestock. Experts said that GE animal feed should also be prohibited.
GM foods harm intrinsic ways too, which is centralized by one central claim that is “unnaturalness objection” (UE). It claims the universal truth that, it is unnatural to genetically engineer foods, plants and animals. Nature gives us fruits, foods and vegetables, so we should not harm them by doing biological experiments to the plants of nature.
Human being and lots of animals utilize most of the crops, plants, vegetables and fruits etc., as foods to live a healthy life. From ancient time people grow crops and vegetables to receive food from it. Such activities help human being to live a healthy life as well as to make a healthy ecosystem. But in early 1990’s, scientists introduced the world the genetic engineering system, which help to grow faster and more quantity of food in less time. Scientists found that GM crops reduce the price of crops in the market with better productivity. But naturally created crops give us more vitamins and nutrients than the GM crops. Also from moral side it is quite clear that, GE is against nature and ecosystem to modify them genetically. We do not have any rights to insert foreign genes in a plant body. By doing such activities we are destroying naturally-established species barriers. It is even injustice to the plants as well as to the native farmers. For instance, American and Canadian food industries are controlled by some of the most famous GE companies, such as Monsanto, AgrEvo, Novartis, Dupont etc. These huge companies cause harm to the minority farmers. Local farmers are losing control over their valuable resources including native seeds and crops.
GM foods play an important role in a family. To keep a healthy way of life, we need to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. It is even more important to our children. Children should get proper amount of protein, vitamin and mineral everyday, which is possible to get from natural fresh foods. But nowadays most of the consumers like to buy their food products from supermarkets and shopping malls to save their time. Such kinds of markets are full of GM foods, which play a great role in human health. The most common GM foods are soybeans, rapeseed oil, maize and cotton. These foods have both positive and negative effects in our body. For example, some of the positive effect of GM foods are such as genetically modified soybeans contain higher protein and nutrition, GM strawberries have sweeter taste and less acidic flavor than the natural, such foods reduces sickness as it contain more vitamin, nutrition and minerals, higher resistance of diseases etc. GM foods can help to maintain family budget. As it helps to decrease food prices due to the lower cost of manufacturing and higher yield. These days GE’s “super food” is quite popular for its faster and cheaper production with high nutrition.
On the other hand it has some negative impact in our family too. It can help to develop life-threatening allergies to the children as well as adults. Research proved that introducing a new gene in plants may cause a new allergic reaction to an individual. It can create unknown effects on human health. A recent research published in Lancet tested the effect of GM potatoes on digestive system of rats. The study claimed a shocking differences between the intestine of the rats which were fed GM potatoes and unmodified potatoes. So when we buy GM food products for our family, we should be careful to avoid unknown impacts (Whiteman, 2000).
GM foods have tremendous impacts in our community. It has multiple impacts in different communities. In most communities of our country people believe that GE can cause health and environmental risks. Health conscious communities believe that planting of GE crops on millions of hectors of land is a giant genetic experiment, which is potentially dangerous for the community. Living and reproducing organisms in GE can spread in vast areas as living pollution. Experts of communities believe that GE dangers also include loss of biodiversity. GE companies use toxic pesticides to develop superweeds and superpests. It contaminates organic and conventional crops. The Canadian regulatory system for food biotechnology is criticized by different experts including the Ontario Public Health Association, Royal society of Canada and Quebec Institute of Public health for their extremely weak performance. Canadian government does not perform long term testing of GM foods, so it is hard to find out the effects of such foods. That is why local communities created non-governmental organization, Greenpeace to give local inhabitants more information about GE.
In Canada, some communities and private organizations like Greenpeace introduced shoppers guide with list of some foods which are manufactured by using genetically modified crops. Greenpeace said that this guide is not intended to be comprehensive but it can help consumers who are concerned about GM foods. These communities give more interest in products like soy, corn cotton and canola, which are popular GE crops grown in North America.
However, from a different point of view, maybe GE helps suffering communities to develop their life. Especially it plays a great role in the communities where people are starving for food. The present population of the world is more than 6 billion, where thousands of people die every day cause of hunger. So ensuring an adequate food supply for a community is a big challenge for the farmers and manufacturers without the help of GM. Genetic engineering helps manufacturers of agricultural communities in number of ways.
Community-supported agriculture (CSA) needs GE’s support during farming. As GM foods help to reduce the use of pesticides in the crops. Usually, farmers use tones of pesticides to protect their crops from insects but consumers do not prefer to buy such food products because of potential health hazards. So GM introduced new methods such as growing b.t. corn, which helps the elimination of chemical pesticides as well as helps the farmers to reduce the cost of bringing up the crop in the market.
By selling a huge amount of GM healthy foods, some communities raise their benefits. It helps the community and stakeholders to increase the profit level by producing more GM foods. Successful productions of GM foods may help the GE companies such as Monsanto Syngenta, Dow etc., to raise their stock values in the world, which indirectly helps the farmers and stakeholders too. Farmers can buy huge amount of GM crops for cheaper price and can produce good food in less time and money. Another effective role of GE is the production of herbicide tolerant crops, such crops have resistant capacity to protect themselves from herbicides (weed-killer), so farmers do not have any difficulty to apply herbicides in the crops during the steps of development of crops. GE introduced other powerful herbicides, which help to prevent environmental damage. This kind of herbicides are necessary to apply in crops only once instead of multiple application of ordinary herbicides. By using such kind of precautions agricultural communities can reduce their expenses and time consuming process.
Overall, GM foods have mix impacts in our country. All GM foods should pass the tests under the law of “food and drugs act” of our country before it is sold in the shops and markets. In our country public health, nutrition and food safety are the most important things of any kind of foods. Organization like “Health Canada” looks after the matters concerning chemical, microbiological, toxicants and physical containments in the foods.
In Canada foods derive from biotechnology, such as GM or GE foods are commonly considered to be one class of “novel foods”. Currently canola, corn, soy and sugar beet are the most popular GM crops, which are grown by the farmers in Canada. Some other small amount of GM foods are also imported to Canada from United States; such as cottonseed oil, papaya (from Hawaii), squash and some milk products. These GM foods create a broader impact in the society, although some protest activities were being made by the inhabitants of Canada against GM foods in recent time. Millions of people from Canada and U.S. marched to protest against the GM food company “Monsanto” on May 25th 2013. As some people believe that genetically modified organisms can cause serious health problem to human being and harm the environment. But opposing the protest, the Monsanto Co., Based St. Louis reported that the company respects people’s rights but they always help farmers to improve the agriculture by improving the seeds. Monsanto also added that their products help to conserve resources such as energy and water.
Nevertheless, consumers should have the right to know what they are eating. It is a big issue in Canada. Government CSR policies should include mandatory labeling of GM food. A poll conducted by Greenpeace in September, 2001 proved that 95% of Canadian people believe that they have the right to know what they are eating. Well, mandatory labeling of GE food law is covering in more than 30 countries in the world right now. But Canadian Member of Parliament has ignored the law in 2001, under intense pressure of GE companies, which is not ethically correct.
Although farming of GE is ethically not correct, still researches prove that it has some of positive efforts towards society and country. GE has a great role in southern hemisphere and in different developing countries too. For instance, GM helps to protect crops from cold and unexpected frost. Extreme cold weather can destroy sensitive seedlings. GE introduced antifreeze gene from cold water fish, which helps the crops to tolerate extreme cold temperatures that usually kills unmodified crops. In some countries these genes are widely used during production of plants like potato and tobacco. If such genetically modified products can fulfill the public health issues of Canada by passing all required tests by the government health organizations, then I think such products should be allowed in the market to fulfill the necessity of the food products with mandatory labeling on food. It can also help our country to develop financial status. Besides, it can be beneficial for our farmers, manufacturers and stakeholders. If our genetic engineers can perform successful and safe experiments of GM foods by using the new technologies, then we can increase our country’s financial growth by exporting GM foods to different countries.
From above article we can come to a conclusion that GM foods have both positive and negative effects in our family, community and country. So government organizations should provide proper tests of GM foods before they allow it to sale in the market and also government should follow mandatory labeling of GM food law, so that consumers can understand what they are eating. By offering such information, GM foods can be familiar to the consumers.