Food for thought-GM Crops

Long gone are the days when we got farm fresh food which nourished us with the qualities that the crop originally possessed. Today, in the race to support the ever-increasing population’s demand of food resources, a new species of crops has emerged; crops which are genetically modified and hybridized.  Along with the generation of new crops, this process also instigates the modification of existing crops in order to achieve an abundant crop yield. This anthropogenic outlook which is the belief of exploiting the environment to fulfil the needs of mankind is what has led to this unnecessary intervention with the environment.

On one hand where, statistics and data show that genetically modified food crops have been successful in sustaining the population, it has been reported that genetic modification directly or indirectly adversely affects 7 out of 10 living beings. Its consumption leads to several acute diseases and fatal chronic diseases in both animals and humans. Such problems range from ailments like food poisoning to serious chronic diseases like Sickle cell anaemia which severely affects the respiratory system. Genes are modified through several chemical stages and processes. These artificial reactants accumulate and enter the food chain.

The issue of increasing genetic modification needs immediate attention because it is harmful and controversial on several grounds.  The rapid growth of genetic modification of crops is gradually leading to an increased dependence of developing nations on industrialized countries. This is further leading to domination of world food production by a few companies and hence, foreign exploitation of natural resources. Genetic modification proves to be most unethical considering that it violates the natural organisms’ intrinsic value by tampering with the genes. Also, the issue of labelling between GM crops and non-GM crops abuses the population’s right to correct information and choice.

Despite these drawbacks of genetic modification, this invention has a positive side too. It brings about beneficial transformation and consequences. Its positive effect on flora includes enhanced taste and quality, increased nutrients and yields, improved resistance to diseases and pests and a reduced maturation time. Genetic alteration of genes among fauna increases their resistance, yields and productivity. Moreover, genetic modification has evolved into an efficient processing technique and includes bio-herbicides and bio-insecticides with better natural waste management.

Like a coin with two sides, genetic alteration has both its pros and cons. The negative attributes of hybridization invalidate its numerous benefits making the problem of genetic modification as one of the top environmental problems. We, humans are the most superior beings of this planet and it depends on us what effect a technique like Genetic Modification has on us. Genetic modification is an artificial procedure and can be moulded into forms more favourable to us. It is on us to realize and decide what can be most beneficial to us. It is still not too late. We still have the time, technology, labour and capital to improve this process and eliminate all the challenges and harmful side effects that it brings with it and give back to nature by reducing the harm that we cause to it through genetic modification.

Saumia Bhatnagar