Genetically modified foods should be banned from the US
Debate Rounds (5)
1. Statement of Agreement
2-4: Arguments and Rebuttals
5: Closing Statements
And do I hear a Con out there?
1. GM crops have negative effects on other, non-GM plants. One possible effect is the horizontal transferring of genes from a GM plant to a non-GM plant or organism when the two are in close proximity. The non-GM plant usually isn't able to handle the intruding gene. One gene that commonly undergoes this horizontal gene transfer is an antibiotic resistance gene, which is added to crops and animals as a sort of "watermark". When these genes are transferred to bacteria, they can create antibiotic resistant viruses, commonly called "superbugs". Examples of these superbugs include Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Studies on cows have found that both the MS13 virus as well as the green fluorescence protein (a glow-in-the-dark protein for GM fish) are able to move from cows' feed into the cows" milk, and then into the human body. (Brigulla, Wackernagel) This also happens with insects, for example, the Indian Muslim reported that a variation of the pink bollworm was found to be resistant to the insect repellent in the GM Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) enhanced cotton after obtaining a Bt resistance gene via horizontal transfer. (Bug Makes Meal of Punjab Cotton, Whither Bt Magic?) Genes can also move from organism to organism via outcrossing, a process that occurs via wind or insect pollination. A 2010 study by the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that various growth hormones in GM corn intended for cattle feed have outcrossed into corn intended for human consumption. A 1999 Nature magazine study by John Losey and Linda Rayor showed that when pollen from Bt corn is blown into milkweed plants, a common food of monarch butterflies, there is a much higher mortality rate then when non-Bt pollen is transferred. (Losey, Rayor) Such outcrossing can create pesticide-resistant super-weeds, similar to the antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funded a study in 2010 which showed that 83% of all weedy canola contained herbicide-resistant genes which had been transferred to them from GM strains of canola. (Schafer) The resistance developed by canola to common herbicides means that farmers may soon have to switch to more dangerous herbicides, as well as tilling their soil, in order to remove the resistant weeds. According to a researcher at the University of Arkansas, these expensive procedures could lead to higher food prices, as well as more erosion and less projected output in farming communities, significantly harming the environment. (Neuman, Pollack)
2.Another negative affect of GMO's are their impact on humans. The results of the aforementioned horizontal gene transfer of various genes from GMO's to humans discussed above could very likely be harmful to the human body, as such genes are only intended to survive within animals/plants, and not in humans. Allerginicity is also an issue with GMO's. Although there are required tests for allerginicity before any sale of GMO's, some foods can make it past the protective barriers. For example, a soybean-Brazil nut cross developed in the late '90s was found to incite allergic reactions in people who were allergic to the Brazil nut. (Nordee, Taylor). More recently, a GMO pea in Australia was found to cause allergic reactions in mice. (Prescott, Campbell) Although both products were soon pulled from the market, a GMO could make it through such tests in the future and into the general public. This could lead to allergic reactions to both GM and non-GM plants, which could limit people's diets, leading to potential malnutrition and starvation.
The main human health concern with GM foods is if they are safe to consume, and if doing so will have any lasting effects on the body. So far, there have been several individual studies that covered this area. A study in 1998 by Arpad Pustzai involved feeding rats both GM potatoes and organic potatoes. The results indicated that the GM group had significantly thicker mucous in their stomach and a protein deficiency. Another rat study, this time in 2012 by the S"ralini lab, showed that rats that were fed by the Monsanto-made "Roundup-Ready" maize had increased rates of cancer. S"ralini had previously conducted labs comparing the effects of three types of GM corn, which concluded that: "Effects were mostly associated with the kidney and liver, the dietary detoxifying organs, although different between the 3 GMOs. Other effects were also noticed in the heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system." (de Vend"mois, Roullier)
3.The last sector that genetically-modified organisms affect is the economy, primarily agriculture. The long-standing practice of seed saving, where farmers took some of the seeds from their crops and saved them towards the next year's harvest, is now forbidden with GM crops. Supreme Court rulings like Diamond vs. Chakrabarty and J.E.M. Ag Supply vs. Pioneer allowed GM plants to be patented as well as allowing the producers of the GM seeds to sue farmers who purposely or by accident save the plant's seed. Genetically modified seed can easily move from farm to farm via outcrossing, and is generally beyond the sued farmer's control. Nevertheless, companies like Monsanto have sued or threatened large numbers of farmers for patent infringement, generating a large profit from practically guaranteed seed repurchasing the next year (Monsanto itself has sued 145). (Food, Inc.) It is estimated that 90% of soybean farmers in the United States use Monsanto's Roundup-Ready soybeans, and are forced, year in and year out, to repurchase the soybeans from Monsanto at exorbitant prices (instead of seed saving) or face termination of their contract. (Food, Inc.) The expense to the farmers from this forced repurchasing puts them in roughly the same situation as the sharecroppers of the 1870's, who were kept in an endless debt cycle of repurchasing expensive seed and equipment. (Food, Inc.) By these tactics, Monsanto and other chemical companies are steadily becoming more powerful, and consequently are driving both farmers and other seed companies into the dust.
Supporters of genetically modified organisms argue that their creation will be lifesaving for people in climates or countries where the consistent harvest of crops is difficult, like Africa or Southeast Asia. In such countries, people have trouble growing such staples as rice and wheat. While some companies have experimented with modified rice and wheat, no such GM foods have been created that are "safe for human consumption". If the United States and other countries were looking to find a way to stop global hunger, they should not look further than current food aid shipments that they send out, which would be more consistent than depending on a safe and peaceful six months between the planting of GM plants and harvest.
Brigulla, Matthias, and Wilfried Wackernagel. "Molecular Aspects of Gene Transfer and Foreign DNA Acquisition in Prokaryotes with Regard to Safety Issues." Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 86.4 (2010): 1027-041. P
Food, Inc. Dir. Robert Kenner and Richard Pearce. Magnolia Home Entertainment, n.d. .
"Indian Muslims.com" Bug Makes Meal of Punjab Cotton, Whither Bt Magic? Indianmuslims.com, 02 Sept. 2007.
Losey, John E., Linda S. Rayor, and Maureen E. Carter. "Transgenic Pollen Harms Monarch Larvae." Nature.com. Nature Publishing Group, 20 May 1999.
Neuman, William, and Andrew Pollack. "Rise of the Superweeds." The New York Times. The New York Times, 04 May 2010.
Nordee, Julie, and Stephen Taylor, Dr. "Result Filters." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 14 Mar. 1996.
Prescott, Vanessa, and Peter M. Campbell. "Transgenic Expression of Bean ^5;-Amylase Inhibitor in Peas Results in Altered Structure and Immunogenicity." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 Oct. 2005.
Schafer, Meredith. "First Wild Canola Plants With Modified Genes Found I." First Wild Canola Plants With Modified Genes Found in United States. University of Arkansas Newswire, 06 Aug. 2010.
There are already regulations in place to prevent the rapid, unaccountable introduction of genetically modified organisms to the environment. But outlawing GM Food means a complete loss of all the benefits they bring to the economy, health, and innovation. We cannot deny the chance of prosperity to over 2 billion people with malnutrition because we have vague fears about the unknown. (3) What we have now is a case-by-case look at the viability of individual crops, examining the potential dangers of each one, as opposed to throwing out many perfectly harmless crops along with the bathwater.
2. Potential Applications
If the current uses of Genetically modified organisms aren't enough to justify their existence, then their possible future uses most certainly are. "Genetically modified plants may someday be used to produce recombinant vaccines. In fact, the concept of an oral vaccine expressed in plants (fruits and vegetables) for direct consumption by individuals is being examined as a possible solution to the spread of disease in underdeveloped countries, one that would greatly reduce the costs associated with conducting large-scale vaccination campaigns." (2)
"When these genes are transferred to bacteria, they can create antibiotic resistant viruses, commonly called "superbugs"."
Antibiotics can do the same thing, but we don't outlaw them. Why? Because there is a need to be filled and they fulfill it. We can see demonstrably that GM Foods and antibiotics help us, but only have bad premonitions about their effect on the environment, the same fears that pop up every time technology advances forward. Besides, we have had our fair share of mutations, and have been able to find new ways to deal with them as we go along. Because that's how progress works- there new setbacks everyday, but it's generally a sign you're succeeding.
"Supreme Court rulings like Diamond vs. Chakrabarty and J.E.M. Ag Supply vs. Pioneer allowed GM plants to be patented as well as allowing the producers of the GM seeds to sue farmers who purposely or by accident save the plant's seed."
I agree that this is wrong, the problem being the currently existing patent laws in the United States. If Monsanto didn't have the force of government to back it up, they would be unable to litigate against normal farmers. However, a "recent meta-analysis of 15 studies reveals that, on average, two-thirds of the benefits of first-generation genetically modified crops are shared downstream, whereas only one-third accrues upstream (Demont et al., 2007). These benefit shares are exhibited in both industrial and developing countries. Therefore, the argument that private companies will not share ownership of GMOs is not supported by evidence from first-generation genetically modified crops." (2)
"While some companies have experimented with modified rice and wheat, no such GM foods have been created that are "safe for human consumption"."
I'm not sure what your definition of "safe for human consumption" is, but Golden Rice has been consumed for a while now and works. According to the World Health Organization, anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 children go blind in developing countries every year because their diet doesn't include enough vitamin A. Genetically modified rice, called "golden rice" was modified to include vitamin A so that kids in developing countries wouldn't go blind. Children who ate golden rice in their diet instead of normal rice had a 23% better chance of avoiding blindness. (1)
1. Newton, David E. "Genetic Engineering: Outlook." Issues: Understanding
Controversy and Society. ABC-CLIO, 2012. Web. 27 Nov. 2012.
No, Golden Rice has not been available to the general public for quite a while now. It has only just finished field testing in the Philippines, which means that there are still at least another two years before that product becomes readily available there and in any other countries that trust Philippine investigators. (http://www.philrice.gov.ph...) Plus, Golden Rice will still be subject to logistical, cultural, and meteorological problems in third world countries, according to Keith West of Johns Hopkins University, putting it at only a slight advantage over standard humanitarian rice shipments.
2. "However, a "recent meta-analysis of 15 studies reveals that, on average, two-thirds of the benefits of first-generation genetically modified crops are shared downstream, whereas only one-third accrues upstream"
Could you please define "up" and "downstream", as the nature.com link isn"t doing it for me. Still, the main issue with that quote of yours is that it involved only studies in Europe. Nothing on Monsanto or other US companies, which is the topic of this debate.
3. "Because there is a need to be filled and they fulfill it. We can see demonstrably that GM Foods and antibiotics help us, but only have bad premonitions about their effect on the environment, the same fears that pop up every time technology advances forward.."
I really don"t understand what you"re saying in this paragraph? Should we continue will-nilly with production and usage of GMO"s because the resulting mutation and curing process will "make us stronger"? Why not just avoid the mutation all together?
And yes, we would not be able to make any progress if we held back on technology production based on a few short fears. But knowledge of prior technologies usually helps us alleviate those fears, for example, the steam pump demonstrating that a steam engine would not be a catastrophic disaster. But with GMO"s, there is no precedent. We haven"t done anything relating to crop or animal mutations with such a large magnitude before the past decade, so we have absolutely no prior evidence to go off of, and should proceed at least with immense caution, if not stop altogether.
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Actionsspeak 2 years ago
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