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Food Glorious Food


For this week’s post I’d like to bring up the idea of food, particularly bioengineered food. Scanning the recent news, this seems to be an issue making a comeback in the global arena, especially in reference to developing countries.

Something I found interesting while looking for current opinions on this topic was a lack of consensus about whether bioengineered foods are a good or bad thing. A New York Times Article discusses whether biotechnology will become an answer for feeding those in developing countries who lack the means and resources to farm and utilize agriculture. Interestingly enough, this article makes no immediate and in-depth mention of the effects of GMOs, whereas another article I found on NPR’s website makes note of this issue. The article brings attention to the fact that the genes put into GMOs to give them their advantageous characteristics. However, there is concern as to whether these genes will have serious long-term, unintended effects.Lastly, another New York Times issue discussed Sweden’s new efforts to reduce their food-related emissions. Their “KRAV” labeling system has standards that are becoming harder to meet for farmers who have limited availability to immediate and direct resources. This labeling system is to certify that farmers’ products are organic and the efforts being made through this system are to help fight climate change. This is an interesting concept though, as the labeling system makes the consumer much more aware of their food choices and involved in the decisions being made. I would think this would have a strong impact on the food industry.

Apparently, this issue is particularly consequential for cattle farmers due to the high costs (high material and resource cost which lead to carbon output) to raise and ‘manufacture’ them. However, these issues are relevant across the food industry and even burger joints are jumping on the bandwagon.

To read more, click on any of the following:

NYT’s ‘Can Biotech Food Cure World Hunger?’

NYT’s ‘Sweden Focuses on Cutting Food Emissions’

NPR’s ‘Bioengineered Plants Gone Wild’

2 Responses

  1. There is a lot of information floating out there that provides in depth studies about the benefits of GMOs in increasing crop yields, lowering the environmental impact of pesticides, and helping farmers generate more high quality food for less. This is what the marketing branch of Monsanto and other corporate giants wants the public to hear.

    The story that is often ignored is the impact of GMO seeds on poor farmers in developing countries. The “Monsantos” of the world have two main claims: that GMO seeds increase yield and decrease the amount of pesticides needed to produce that higher yield. In studies done in Western countries, this has been the case. This is because the seeds were created for Western farmers. However, for farmers in say Western Africa, they have not enjoyed the same successes. For example, they are forced to sign extensive contracts that stipulate that the farmers cannot share seeds and must destroy any excess seeds at the end of the year. The contracts are problematic for several reasons, the most obvious being that most of the farmers are illiterate and are not always sure what they are signing. Also, in a culture that is economical and resourceful, stipulating that seeds cannot be re-used or shared makes no sense. Why wouldn’t farmers save extra seeds for the next year? The main reason for this clause in the contract is to be sure that these mega-corporations can make more money the following year. In fact, if any of the farmers break their contract, Monsanto (for example) has the right (under the contract) to sue the farmer. From what I have read, Monsanto has a legal wing that spends millions of dollars a year doing just that.

    The evidence suggesting that GMO seeds result in a higher yield has not always been proven in developing countries. Also, the pesticide resistant seeds do not seem to be resistant to some of the insects that are located in Africa, for example. There is so much more information like this in the article below.

    I have a lot to say on this topic (I am really not a fan of GMO foods), but I think the article below summarizes my concerns very well. I highly suggest anyone who is looking to read some of the alternative views on GMOs go to the link below.


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