Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) are plants, animals, and microorganisms that have undergone genetic make-up modification, using recombinant dna schemes, transgenic modifications, and gene improvement. this is often a comparatively new agricultural science that makes unstable plants, microorganisms or animals, which is neither natural nor made through traditional crossbreeding. Organic food, on the opposite hand, is food manufactured through natural processes without using plastic fertilizer and made pesticides. Instead, farmers use natural fertilizers (also referred to as Manure) and pesticides.
Comparison between GMO and Organic food
Apart from the definitions, there are differences between genetically modified foods and natural food; these differences are often classified in reference to yields, health effects, reliability and the public perceptions.
The term GMO plants are synonymous to high yield plants. GMO is known to produce more yields as compared to the organic plants. In fact, experts estimate that a typical GMO plant would produce three times what natural organic plants can produce. According to Ceccarelli (4273-4286), one of the advantages of genetically modified crops; is that these crops have a better taste, high-quality nutritional values, shorter maturing time and significant resistance to pests and diseases, unlike organic plants that are more vulnerable to diseases and pest hence leading to lower yields.
Ceccarelli (4273-4286) purports that Farmers can grow more food plants on a lesser land with GMO seedlings, as compared to organic farming that requires large chunks of land to match, the quantity of yields that a GMO farmer would have harvested. Despite producing high amount of yields on a small land, these foods have certain genes modified or inserted in their genetics composition so that they can provide quality nutritional content. Theoretically, genetically modified plants are thought to be an environmentally friendly as they conserve soil, water, and energy. According to the Food Agricultural Organization (FAO), one advantage that genetically modified crops have over organic plants is that GMOs produce more nutritious food as compared to organic plants. Most of the GMO foods are in the works of bio-fortification to increase their nutritional value. For instance, fifty percent of the world population relies on Rice as their staple food, having rice modified to have more vitamin A would help reduce the deficiency of Vitamin A in the developing states. FAO also recommends the developing countries struggling with food shortage, hunger and famine should adopt GMO farming rather than organic farming to increase the food security levels in these countries (Gracia, Azucena, Jesús, and Belinda 49-67)
A major problem with genetic engineering is that in the process of inserting foreign genes into the DNA of a plant or an animal is random and scientists have agreed to the fact that they have no idea where these genes go. The foreign gene has a potential of disrupting the functions of other genes and create toxic proteins that are non-existent in the food supply. These proteins have potential health risks, such as allergies, resistance to antibiotics, increased toxins from the plants among other unknown effects. For instance, in the United Kingdom, the first genetically modified Soybeans were imported in 1999, in the next year a study was carried out within a randomized population; the studies revealed that Soybean allergies in the United Kingdom had increased from 10% to 15% of the sampled respondents. Scientific results later showed that various individuals react differently to genetically modified and non-genetically modified Soy varieties. Similarly, in a small town in Hesse Germany, 12 dairy cows died on a farm after being a fed with a diet that had a significant amount of Bt 176 (Bt. 176 is a genetically modified corn). The surviving cows had to be killed due to an unknown illness. Syngenta, which was the manufacturing company of Bt. 176, had to compensate the farmer for his losses but never acknowledged responsibility for the cow deaths. Despite public protest, no detailed autopsy reports were made available (Vendômois, Joël, Dominique, Christian, Emilie, Robin, and Gilles-Eric).
This is not to say that organic food stuff is the safest; one primary benefit of consuming organic food is the minor presence of pesticides used. In spite of the common conviction that organic farmers do not apply insecticides and pesticides when tendering their plants, they actually do. The only variance is that they apply natural pesticides rather than the artificial pesticides applied in GMO farming. Natural pest control methods have been found to be less contaminated, but they have a possibility of causing health risks, although this chances are minute as compared to the risks posed by genetically modified food (Gracia, Azucena, Jesús, and Belinda 49-67).
Regarding reliability; organic plants seems to be more reliable as compared to genetically modified food. Farming organic plants are reliable as a farmer can harvest the seeds that he/she would use to plant in the coming seasons. This means that farmers only need to buy the seeds once and retain some yields as seeds for the next coming seasons (unless the farmer prefers different breeds). This ensures that farmers maximize their profits and are independent from the entities manufacturing generic seedlings (Denver, Sigrid, and Jørgen, 139-144).
Unlike organic farming, in genetically modified crops farming, the farmer always relies on the manufacturing company for seeds every season they want to farm. This reliance on commercial business sometimes brings about unprecedented food shortage due to technical reasons from the company (Denver et al. 139-144). Secondly every planting season, the farmer will have to divide his/her profits with the manufacturing companies while buying seeds. The purchased seeds always do not yield expected outcomes, and sometimes the farmers experience bumper harvests while other times the seeds gives the farmers very little returns. In short, GMO farming is a fifty-fifty kind of a deal, either a farmer expects to gain profits or loose massively (Vendômois et al.).
Proponents of GMO food, argue that this is the way to go and the future of agriculture. According to Reisch, Lucia, Ulrike Eberle and Sylvia Lorek, GMO is the solution to food insecurity in different parts of the world, especially Africa. The high yields brought about by GMO, trickles down to surplus food in the market, which reduces the international food prices, making food affordable and readily available for everyone. Despite food security, the added nutritional value in GMO foodstuff can also be a solution to malnutrition in the third world states (Seufert, Navin Ramankutty, and Jonathan).
However much the proponents of GMO food try to justify it, most societies are still adamant regarding embracing this technology. Several reasons have been cited including; dependency on the companies manufacturing these seeds, diverse health effects of GMO food and the fear of the unknown repercussions in case the world fully adopts GMO farming (Seufert et al.).
As much as science and technology are taking over the world, the use of GMO is still a highly debatable issue. The fact that most companies manufacturing GMO foods test them on their own and came up with biased results has diminished the trust worthiness of GMO foods. When independent laboratories test the same foodstuffs, the results always show dire health effects on the consumers. Organic food remains to be the preferred and the recommended diet by most nutritionists especially people with chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and advanced ulcers. The only challenge is that organic plants tend to produce lowr yields as compared to GMO.
Ceccarelli, Salvatore. “GM crops, organic agriculture and breeding for sustainability.” Sustainability 6.7 (2014): 4273-4286.
Denver, Sigrid, and Jørgen Dejgaard Jensen. “Consumer preferences for organically and locally produced apples.” Food Quality and Preference 31 (2014): 129-134.
Gracia, Azucena, Jesús Barreiro‐Hurlé, and Belinda López Galán. “Are local and organic claims complements or substitutes? A consumer preferences study for eggs.” Journal of Agricultural Economics 65.1 (2014): 49-67.
Reisch, Lucia, Ulrike Eberle, and Sylvia Lorek. “Sustainable food consumption: an overview of contemporary issues and policies.” Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy 9.2 (2013).
Seufert, Verena, Navin Ramankutty, and Jonathan A. Foley. “Comparing the Yields of Organic and Conventional Agriculture.” Nature (2012): n. pag. Nature News. Nature Publishing Group, 25 Apr. 2012. Web. 30 June 2017.
Vendômois, Joël Spiroux De, Dominique Cellier, Christian Vélot, Emilie Clair, Robin Mesnage, and Gilles-Eric Séralini. “Debate on GMOs Health Risks after Statistical Findings in Regulatory Tests.” (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 30 June 2017.