The GMO issue
The question whether to allow the cultivation of genetically modified organisms is a topic which is more and more frequently present in the public debate. Plenty of controversies and contradictory opinions have surrounded the issue over the years. Unfortunately, in many countries the topic is neglected and only discussed in the context of consumption, consumer choice and nutrition. At the same time, the aspects regarding agriculture and development of agriculture are being neglected. On top of that, we are unable to foresee the long-term consequences of the consuming GMO’s for human health and functioning. This puts the whole discussion about GMO use and consumption into question.
A few facts about GMO
GMO stands for a genetically modified organism, whose genetic structure was altered not in a natural process, but in laboratory conditions. It is done by crossing a number of organisms or by natural genetic recombination, or the exchange of genetic material, which results in producing new genotypes. For years, people used to experiment with crossing similar plants of the same species, in order to test their qualities, increase resilience or improve their quality. The problem appeared when genetic modifications which combine the genes of various species began to be made. Understandably, such procedures are causing resistance and giving rise to fears whether those modifications are safe for the people and the environment. According to scientists, changes of the plant genome may be irreversible and lead to unpredictable consequences.
GMO, agriculture and biodiversity
Small family-run farms with small acreage are taken over by large farms which focus on one kind of crops. Using genetically modified organisms in large farms could lead to the eradication of natural biodiversity in the rural areas. Also the yields on neighboring farms, which do not use GMO’s, are affected. GMO’s might also cause the deterioration of the quality of soil, make it sterile and prone to erosion. Lastly, perpetual use of products which make crops more resistant to weed and insects might lead to the emergence of crossed organisms: crops and the weed, or crops becoming weed. New plants could kill all insects, including those which are highly desirable for agriculture, namely bees. Their long-term usage results in increasing the dosage, as the plants require increasing quantities of those products and become more resistant to external factors. Additionally, if the genotype of GMO’s impacts the genotype of natural organisms, farmers’ freedom of choice of the type of crops is endangered.