Genetic modification: pros and cons

It is worth once again objectively considering all the pros and cons of genetic modification. Cons, of course, much more. One can only guess: what incredible discoveries in biotechnology and genetics will surprise us in the XNUMXst century. 


It seems that science is finally capable of solving the problem of hunger, creating new drugs, changing the very foundations of agriculture, food and medical industries. After all, traditional selection, which has existed for many thousands of years, is a slow and laborious process, and the possibilities of intraspecific crossing are limited. Does humanity have time to move forward with such snail’s steps? The population of the Earth is growing, and then there is global warming, the possibility of a sharp climate change, water scarcity. 


beautiful dreams 


The good doctor Aibolit, located in the laboratory of the XXI century, is preparing salvation for us! Armed with microscopes of the latest generation, under neon lamps, he conjures over flasks and test tubes. And here it is: genetically modified miracle tomatoes, nutritionally equal to rich pilaf, multiply at an incredible rate in the arid regions of Afghanistan. 


America no longer drops bombs on impoverished and aggressive countries. Now she’s dropping GM seeds from planes. Several flights are enough to turn any area into a fruitful garden. 


And what about the plants that will produce fuel for us or any other useful and necessary substances? At the same time, there is no pollution of the environment, no plants and factories. I planted a couple of rose bushes in the front garden or a bed of fast-growing daisies, and every morning you squeeze biofuel out of them. 


Another very curious project is the creation of a breed of special trees, sharpened for the assimilation of heavy metals and various other filth from the air and soil. You plant an alley next to some former chemical plant – and you can set up a playground nearby. 


And in Hong Kong they have already created a wonderful breed of fish to determine water pollution. The fish begin to glow in different colors depending on how nasty their bodies feel in the water. 




And it’s not just dreams. Millions of people have long been using genetically engineered drugs: insulin, interferon, the hepatitis B vaccine, to name a few. 


Mankind has come close to the line, having crossed which it will be able to independently plan not only the evolution of plant and animal species, but also its own. 


We can use living organisms as materials—oil, rocks, and so on—in the same way that companies used them in the industrial age. 


We can defeat disease, poverty, hunger. 




Unfortunately, like any complex phenomenon, the production of GM products has its own unpleasant sides. The story of the mass suicide of Indian farmers who went bankrupt after purchasing GM seeds from TNC Monsanto is well known. 


Then it turned out that miracle technologies not only do not carry any economic advantages, but are generally not suitable for the local climate. In addition to this, it was pointless to save the seeds for the next year, they did not germinate. They belonged to the company and, like any other “work”, they had to be repurchased from the owner of the patent. Fertilizers produced by the same company were also attached to the seeds. They also cost money, and without them the seeds were useless. As a result, thousands of people first got into debt, then went bankrupt, lost their land, and then drank Monsanto pesticides, committing suicide. 


It is possible that this story is about poor and distant countries. Most likely, life is not sugar there even without GM products. In developed countries, with an educated population, with a government guarding the interests of its citizens, this cannot happen. 


If you go to one of the expensive bioshops in downtown Manhattan (like Whole food) or the farmers’ market in Union Square in New York, you will find yourself among youthful fit people with a good complexion. At the farmers’ market, they choose small, shriveled apples that cost several times more than beautiful apples of the same size in a regular supermarket. On all boxes, jars, packages, large inscriptions flaunt: “bio”, “does not contain GM components”, “does not contain corn syrup” and so on. 


In Upper Manhattan, in cheap chain stores or in an area where the poor live, the food package is very different. Most packages are modestly silent about their origin, but proudly say: “Now 30% more for the same money.” 


Among the buyers of cheap stores, the majority are painfully overweight people. You can, of course, assume that “they eat like pigs, if you consume bio-apples in such quantities, then you will not be slim either.” But this is a moot point. 


GM foods are consumed by the poor in America and the rest of the world. In Europe, the production and distribution of GM products is strictly limited, and all products containing more than 1% GM are subject to mandatory labeling. And you know, surprisingly, there are very few fat people in Europe, even in poor areas. 


Who needs all this? 


So where are the evergreen tomatoes and all the vitamin apples? Why do the rich and beautiful prefer products from a real garden, while the poor are fed “the latest achievements”? There are not so many GM foods in the world yet. Soybeans, corn, cotton, and potatoes have been launched into mass commercial production. 


Here is a list of the features of GM soy: 


1. A GM plant is protected from pests by a pesticide resistance gene. The Monsanta company, which sells GM seeds along with pesticides, has equipped miracle seeds with the ability to withstand a “chemical attack” that kills all other plants. As a result of this ingenious commercial move, they manage to sell both seeds and pollinators. 


So those who think that GM plants do not require the treatment of fields with pesticides are mistaken. 


2. GM seeds are patented. Refusing to save their own seeds, farmers (or even entire countries) purchase seeds from a private company in an industry that has reached unprecedented levels of monopolization. It’s better not to even think about what might happen if the company that owns the seeds or patents turns out to be evil, stupid, or even just plain unlucky leaders. Any dystopia will seem like children’s fairy tales. It’s all about food security. 


3. Together with the gene of some valuable trait, for technological reasons, antibiotic resistance marker genes isolated from bacteria are transferred into the plant. There are different opinions about the danger of containing such a gene in products intended for human consumption. 


Here we come to the main question. Why should I risk it at all? Even just a little bit? None of the above features brings me personally as the end consumer of the product any dividends. Not just amazing vitamins or rare nutrients, but something more trivial, like flavor enhancement. 


Then maybe GM foods are infinitely profitable from an economic point of view and today’s farmers lead the comfortable life of bank clerks? While their GM soy fights weeds on its own and produces incredible yields, do they spend pleasant hours in pools and gyms? 


Argentina is one of the countries that actively and long ago entered the GM reform of agriculture. Why don’t we hear about the prosperity of their farmers or the economic prosperity of the country? At the same time, Europe, which is constantly imposing more and more restrictions on the distribution of GM products, is concerned about the overproduction of agricultural products. 


Speaking about the cost-effectiveness of GM products in the United States, one should not forget that American farmers receive huge subsidies from their government. And not for anything, but for GM varieties, seeds and fertilizers for which are sold by the largest biotech companies. 


Why should we, as a buyer, support the production and distribution of GM products that do not bring any benefit, but obviously put the food market of the world under the control of giant TNCs? 


Public opinion 


If you Google “GM foods” you will get a long list of links to disputes between their supporters and opponents. 


Arguments for” boil down to the following: 


“What, do you want to stop scientific progress?” 


– So far, nothing definitely harmful has been found in GM foods, and there is no such thing as absolutely safe. 


– Do you like to eat pesticides that are poured over carrots today? GM is an opportunity to get rid of pesticides and herbicides that poison both us and the soil. 


The companies know what they are doing. No fools work there. The market will take care of everything. 


– Greens and other social activists are known for their idiocy and stupidity. It would be nice to ban them. 


These arguments can be summed up as political-economic ones. Citizens are invited to shut up and not ask too many questions while professionals from the TNCs and the invisible hand of the market organize progress and prosperity around us. 


The famous American writer Jeremy Riffkin, author of the book The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World, dedicated to biotechnology, believes that GM technologies can bring humanity both salvation from misfortunes and many new ones. It all depends on who and for what purpose these technologies are developed. The legal framework within which modern biotech companies exist is, to say the least, a major concern. 


And as long as this is true, as long as citizens cannot put the activities of TNCs under real public control, as long as it is impossible to organize a truly large-scale and independent examination of GM products, cancel patents for living organisms, the distribution of GM products must be stopped. 


In the meantime, let scientists make wonderful discoveries in state laboratories. Perhaps they will be able to create both an eternal tomato and a magical rose that will belong to all the inhabitants of the Earth. Create for the purpose of social prosperity, not profit.

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