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Genetically Modified Organisms and Food First’s Policies.
The issue of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been hotly debated, and most of these debates have failed to reach a conclusive end. This is partly because the field of genetic modification of organisms is still developing and there are many blanks with a lot of uncertainties and lack of reliable information. It is in this regard that I have chosen to write to your organization – First Food – which is one of the organizations that is strongly championing against the use of genetically modified organisms in food production (Boulder, 2011).
Your non-profit organization whose major aim is to eliminate injustices responsible for hunger holds itself as a “people's think tank and education-for-action centre.” A review of Food First website reveals that the organizations’ major objectives include offering policy analysis on issues relating to agriculture, development and poverty (Food First, 2012). A review of the organization’s past stand reveals that it is against most policies from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Food first is also against the resurgence of the 70’s Green Revolution which failed due to its poor implementation which led to high input costs but dismal returns. Yields attained in the Green revolution were almost equated to traditional farming yield levels. As such, the Green revolution underwent natural attrition, but it has recently resurged with the onset of large support for GMOs and high yielding varieties of organisms. Apparently, Food First holds that the use of such approaches and policies would worsen global inequalities that are responsible for grave food shortages across some regions. Instead, Food First recommends the establishment of an effective and fair development model through the use of sustainable agriculture (Food First, 2012). The policy of sustainable agriculture is very appealing and offers the peace of mind which assures communities that there will be no environmental destruction and adverse agricultural results of farming. There are also evident inequalities not only in food production, but also in distribution of the produce. This may be exemplified by the U.S example where affluent neighborhoods have more square feet of space dedicated to grocery and farm produce, whereas; the poor neighborhoods have very little space dedicated to the same. Such inequalities lead to poor health conditions such as heart diseases and diabetes, and this is what Food First is fighting against.
This far in the review of Food First policies and objectives, I would state that the organization is of some good approaches to policy and agricultural issues of inequalities. But the organization has failed to grasp one important aspect of the resurging green revolution – the use of GMOs and high yielding varieties. These two provide the best solution to off-setting the identified inequalities, but, surprisingly, Food First is against these economical and easily implementable solutions of the problem of injustices responsible for hunger. Food First fails to be cognizant of the fact that hunger is not just caused by economic and social inequalities And it is happening at times, the inherent causes of these inequalities are natural. For example most sub-Saharan countries in Africa fail to produce enough food for consumption simply because the climatic factors that are either too dry or favour the existence of pests and diseases which negatively affect agricultural production(Head, Hull & Tzotzos, 2009). In such cases, sustainable agriculture may still sound appealing, but it cannot offer solutions to counter climatic problems as well as pest and diseases problems. Instead, it would necessitate the use of pesticides and other chemicals for crop diseases and, finally, cut the sustainability of this form of farming because of the negative and adverse effects of using such chemicals. The sustainability that Food First calls for is agreeable wherever applicable, but in some global scenarios sustainable agriculture is not possible without the use of new varieties and GMOs that can sustain the environmental challenges that cause natural inequalities in food production such as drought, diseases and pests.
In a bid to recommend policy change for Food First, I would ask your organization to review the benefits that GMOs and high-yielding varieties can offer to your aims and objectives. In fact, GMOs provide a rather inexpensive way to deal with inequalities in both food production and distribution which are the main causes of hunger (Head et al. 2009). GMOs could allow the less productive areas to overcome the hard-fought climate and antropogenic factors. There are GMOs specifically engineered to grow well in drought areas and some of them are even pest and diseases resistant. This would favour production in drier waterless areas if irrigation cannot be harnessed and also avoid the problem of pests and diseases which are common in warmer and drier climates (Head et al. 2009). These GMOs would not only help such less productive areas in developing their sustainability in terms of food provision, but will also enable the productive areas to increase their production so as to develop a surplus that could be passed on to the less productive areas. Similarly, shorter maturity periods in some GMOs may help crops to grow fully in optimal conditions that only last for short periods (Foods Standard Australia New Zealand, 2005).
There is a potential that GMOs may pose a threat to health and diversity, but this could be taken care of by further research that will look into how to overcome these challenges (Boulder, 2011). Therefore, instead of campaigning against GMOs, Food First should be supporting researchers in the agricultural sector to seek solutions that bedevil the genetic modification technology so as to have it fully safe for implementation. They should also be cultivating a positive attitude towards GMOs in people so as to have the technology accepted for implementation, because of the potential solutions it has towards fulfilling Food First’s aims and goals.