21 Mar 2014

Genetically modified foods are harmful

Mei Ling Fan writes:*

In simple terms, GM foods are created by taking specific gene from one plant and insert it into another plant. Grains, vegetables and fruits can all be genetically modified through genetic engineering technologies. The purpose of creating GM foods are increase plant yields and enhance nutrition. As we all know, in order for human, other animals and plants to survive on the earth, the environment of Mother Nature must stay balanced. GM plants can break that balance by completely annihilate the living environment of certain spices of insects and plants. In long run, when Mother Nature corrects herself, it may come to our own kind.

The most controversial topic on GM foods is its effects on human health. The main concern is that there are no research in present can prove whether GM foods are harmful to human health or not. However it is obvious that if people continue consuming GM foods without knowing its effects, it will be too late to reverse when the disaster strikes.

Bottom Line: Therefore, in order to prevent massive disaster from happening and to protect Mother Nature and ourselves, GM foods need to be protested by us all.

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.


STK-9388 said...

I agree with this blog post. Since all creatures in the world have their own growth rhythm, human beings should not break this existing laws of nature only for their own interests. If the genetically modified foods is good for human such as enhance nutrition, why we need to advertise and promote organic foods? The reason behind this may be most of all realize that nature is always the best.

richardgerome said...

This post can be improved by better utilizing the discipline of economics. The “balance of Mother Nature” as a central concept of the article may seem to inspire cosmically profound sentiments, but in reality gives a vague notion of very complex and diffuse problems. Using an economic context would not only be more appropriate for the class, but the make a more convincing argument because the discipline will demand more specifics and clear concepts.

What about restating the problem in terms of the external costs that are paid by consumers, and more consequentially, deferred to the future? Without changes in current behaviors, it is undeniable that adverse tipping points will be reached in the future at the confluence energy, the economy, and environment.

I would also suggest that an economic perspective should exclude political calls to protest. Behavior drives politics as it does economics, but the first step would be a dispassionate, empirical-based understanding of the situation. Do the simple stuff first; then the difficult subject matter of human behavior can come later.

Can the subject of GM foods be separate from its relationship with factory farms and engineered foods? What about the problem of information in the market that lead consumers to choose lower prices in the short term in exchange for the externalization of long-term costs? Why should someone buy a more expensive food alternative rather than choosing the cheaper mainstream choice where there is no immediately apparent disadvantage? Is there economic bias in assumed time horizons or shortcomings in economics with regard to in intergenerational equity?

David Zetland said...

@Richard -- Thanks for the excellent comment. I have asked Mei Ling to reply.

Anonymous said...

I agree that there is not enough evidence to suggest whether GMOs are harmful to human health.

However, there is overwhelming evidence that pesticides are extremely toxic to not only humans, but also to all life on the planet.

Furthermore, the people making decisions about regulations on GMOs are not the same people that live on or near plantations or farms that use pesticides. Many children live with their parents on farms in developing countries, and are exposed to levels of pesticides that decrease their probability of a healthful existence.

If you're going to speak out against GMOs, please compensate by yelling out against pesticides, something that has overwhelming evidence against its use.

Meiling Fan said...

Thank you Richard for raise these thoughts provoking questions about GM foods.

I think the information available in the market is misleading consumers to choose lower price. One reason is that most of the food producers do not label whether the products are from GM corps or not, results in consumers often don’t consider GM as a decision factor when shopping or simply cannot identify which product is from GMOs. And often because GM corps are easier to grow by factory famers and more profitable, so GM foods are labeled at lower price.

In short term, the benefits of produce GM foods is obviously greater than its costs. GMOs are able to provide more food to those countries where starvation is an urgent issue. In developed countries, each household would save some money by choosing lower priced foods. Additionally, funds used on GMOs’ research and development is also a part of GDP contribution. However, in the long term future, when the population has grown larger and more food will be needed, but the environment is out of balance. Even GM crops become costly to grow, so the GM foods become expensive. I believe when the future reach that point, the costs need to spend in environmental treatment would far more over than those economic benefits we have received today.

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