Food Ethics: Should Environmentalists Oppose Genetically Modified Food?

1247 Words5 Pages
I will argue that environmentalists should not oppose genetically modified foods. Genetically modified foods or GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) are crop plants that are modified in a laboratory to enhance desired traits, to offer greater yields, to improve pest and disease resistance, to increase nutrition, or to boost tolerance to temperature extremes, drought, and salinity (The Hutchinson Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide). This controversial concept has been debated among environmental activists, public interest groups, and other scientists and government officials since GMOs were introduced in 1996. However, genetic engineering has enormous potential benefits that society cannot ignore now or in the future. First,…show more content…
Therefore, to “conserve forests, habitats and biodiversity, it is necessary to ensure that future food requirements come only from cropland currently in use”, which can be achieved with an increased use of GMOs globally (ISAAA). An objection to this argument is that some environmentalists oppose GMOs, arguing that genetically modified foods have a negative environmental impact, especially for agricultural practices. For example, they contend that the modified genes created by genetic engineering can spread through pollen to other non-GMO plants outside of their intended cultivation area. “If a GMO is herbicide-tolerant,” some environmentalists believe this characteristic can spread to other plants with the possibility of creating “super-weeds” which will be difficult to suppress (Thompson 213). Others argue that widespread use of GMOs can lead to a reduction in the biodiversity of plants and insects. As more and more GMOs are used, the genetic diversity of other similar plants may be lost, as conventional and organic seeds are no longer used for agricultural practices (Gertsberg). It is debated that the “toxins produced to kill insects in GMOs can also kill ‘non-target species,’ which are insects we may not want to kill”, such as monarch butterflies, leading to a loss in biodiversity (Thompson 213). Conversely, overreliance on a single pesticide can lead to the development of resistant “super-bugs” which also hurts the environment.
Open Document