Genetically modified species have sparked heated discussions in the scientific and corporate community about the morality of their creation and whether or not they should be branded as a form of consumer protection. What exactly are genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? Genetically engineered species are living beings, often edible plants and animals, whose genes have been intentionally changed or transferred in order to preserve or display those desired phenotypes that may not have been transmitted otherwise (University of California). There are several advantages to modifying organisms such as the creation of resistant traits to disease and drought as well as increasing the yield from crops. However, regardless of these seemingly noble intentions, scientist have often come under fire from various quarters which include religious groups, human rights associations, humanitarian organizations and occasionally the government. The main points of contention vary from group to group but almost every one of the dissenting groups finds the question of consumer information pertinent. At this point, it is important to note that genetically modified organisms have not been fully studied and thus have the potential to cause some unforeseen consequences over time such as mutations and health conditions. Since consumption of these organisms affects what our bodies are made of, it is mandatory that they are analyzed carefully and specific stringent measures put in place to protect the consumer.
Does labeling genetically modified organisms help safeguard the consumer?
To answer the question above, it is necessary for us to understand what genetic engineering is and how it is employed in gene modification, details may not be necessary since we need only a gist of the terms. Secondly, we must explore literature on various arguments that exist within the scientific fraternity and globally. The role of the government cannot be forgotten on this matters as well. Genetic engineering is the direct manipulation of an organism’s DNA through the use of scientific means (biotechnology). The DNA strands are incredibly complex and have yet to be fully understood by scientists which makes genetic engineering a field that falls into the unchartered waters territory. This forms the basis of the arguments against the use of genetic engineering and thus intensifies the call for labeling of such products (Chapman). Secondly, there is the matter of personal beliefs and religious affiliations within the society. Almost everyone in society belongs to a religion which often has a supreme being responsible for the creation of the earth and its contents. From the standpoint of these individuals, believe that genetically modified organisms are unacceptable as they basically represent an act of playing god. Last but not least, there is the truth that scientists have yet to fully understand the effects or potential effects of genetic engineering and mutations, which makes it harder for citizens to trust them with their lives on this particular matter (Agbiosafety.unl.edu). the position that genetically modified organisms should be labeled is the majority belief and has been defended on several levels with numerous stakeholders.
However, there is the alternate side that people often tend to miss out, and in fact is the side that I major on. I partly agree with the notion that organically modified organisms should be labeled when place on shelved with the intention to sell them to consumers. Notwithstanding the above fact, I challenge the authenticity of the labeling that various groups demand. I do challenge it on the grounds of obscurity when looked at carefully, it shall quickly be discovered that genetically modified crops often grow in open spaces and enjoy the same agents of pollination as the biologically unaltered foods. This quickly gets us to the question of the real significance of labeling the foods on the shelves. Nectar and pollen from genetically modified organisms are shared with the unaltered organisms which means that the seeds that are produced shall likely be tainted. From this perspective, we see that labeling genetically modified organisms are an exercise in futility, they can be labeled yes but every seed planted around the area of production of the genetically modified farms is most likely affected genetically and keeps being affected as plant generational are planted and harvested.
Gaps in Literature
Several gaps exist in the literature on this topic, first of all, there are no real means of knowing which organisms are modified and which are not. Scientific research is limited in this perspective since scientists have not engaged in large scale projects to determine how much pollen for the modified plants gets to fertilizes the regular plants. The cost of conducting such an experiment would likely be prohibitive and the equipment costly. Additionally, no one knows for sure what the effects of these modified organisms are, there is simply littles data in this respect since genetic engineering only became a mainstream study subject recently (Nicholl).
To conduct this research, I employed secondary sources primarily in the form of content analysis which is the use of published material to undertake research. This was undertaken in conjunction with desktop research which helped broaden the available material and literature for me to review on the topic. It was largely descriptive research aimed at analyzing existing content on the topic and reinforcing the research that has been done already, no new material was added to the current body research during this exercise.
The government must be willing to restrict the openness in which the scientists and farmers engaging in genetically modified farming conduct their farming practices. Otherwise, labeling on the shelves would be a ceremonial regulation without any real purpose.
Genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms are gaining momentum in terms of advancement and production. It is thus critical that the local and global governments device proper regulations as to how the industry should be regulated, otherwise, it is possible that a government that idly sits by is violating citizen rights. In my opinion, it is pointless to label these organisms while the farms and pollen from them have been dispersed to the unaltered organism thus causing mutations and possible side effects in people.
Agbiosafety.unl.edu. What Is Genetic Engineering and How Does It Work? 14 April 2005. Web.
14 April 2017.
This source is an academic website that explains what genetic engineering is and the general procedure involved when conducting genetic modifications to an organism. It is an informative article that is meant to set the pace and understanding of the subject matter. It is relevant to this paper since it has the necessary content to give the reader a gist of the subject matter, genetically modified organisms. last but not least, this article is a quality reference of this paper due to the fact that it is published by an academic institution as designated by the .edu suffix in its URL.
Chapman, Anne. “Genetic Engineering: The Unnatural Argument.” EJournals (2007): 1-5.
This is a journal article that gives the two opposing views of genetically modified organisms, that is, natural arguments and mainly the unnatural argument. The author brings out the rationale for rejection of genetically modified organisms as the unnatural elements to it. He proceeds to demonstrate natural and unnatural technologies. the article is relevant to this paper since it helps explain the dissent for genetically modified organisms. It is a credible reference owing to the fact that it is part of a reputable online journal.
Nicholl, Desmond S. T. An Introduction to Genetic Engineering. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press; 3 edition, 2008. Book.
This books provided literature on genetic engineering and subsequently genetically modified organisms, what they are, the process of creating them and the ethical dilemmas that surround the concept. The author manages to sum up every concept neatly in one volume. it is relevant to this research owing to the fact that it gives content on genetic engineering from background to the complex ethical issue. its credibility is boosted by the fact that it is a printed book that has been critiqued and passed the quality tests.
The university of California. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO):. n.d. Web. 14 April 2017.
This article gives an in-depth view of genetically modified organisms and the various debates that they have enlisted. the author looks at genetically modified organisms from a religious, moral and legal perspective thus giving context to the debates on the matter. It is relevant to this research due to the fact that it touches on genetically modified organisms and the issues surrounding them. Its credibility is pegged on the fact that it is published by a credible institution, university of California.