An Industry on the Brink: Consumers Need to Wake Up and Smell the Genetically Modified Coffee

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An Industry on the Brink: Consumers Need to Wake Up and Smell the Genetically Modified Coffee A recent upsurge of opposition to the production of genetically modified crops has farmers all over America asking themselves one question: To modify or not to modify? Genetically modified (GM) crops allow farmers to use fewer pesticides while still achieving the same yields. American farmers have planted GM crops since 1995 and, at least for the first few years, had no problems selling these products to the public. Recently, however, there has been a movement by several activist groups, some of which have the support of accredited scientists, to make a distinction on grocery store shelves between GM foods and those that were produced normally. This process, called labeling, strikes fear in the hearts of most farmers who are afraid that an uninformed American public will steer clear of the GM crops “just to be on the safe side.” The fact of the matter is that Americans have been eating these altered crops since 1995 and no one has been harmed. This simple albeit somehow debatable fact did not stop one interest group from taking out several full-page ads in the New York Times warning of the dangers of these newfangled foods (Isserman, 2001). This, like many technological advances has met much resistance, but it will ultimately be accepted and change the face of agriculture. The decision of whether to produce GM crops is based more on politics than on practice. Farmers are not interested in deciding which type of crop is better for consumers, better for the environment, or better for the world, but instead are only concerned with which type of crop consumers are willing to buy. Farmers were once faced with th... ... middle of paper ... ... Promoting GM. 13 Nov. 2002. Institute of Science and Society. 13 Dec. 2002. <http://www.i-sis.org.uk/isisnews/i-sisnews13-31.php> Kwon, Y.W. and Kim, D. (2000). Herbicide-resistant genetically-modified crop; its risks with an emphasis on gene flow. Weed Biology and Management 1, 42-52. Watkinson, A.R. et al. (2000). Predictions of biodiversity response to genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops. Science 289, 1554-1557. Isserman, A.M. et al. (2001). Genetically modified food. American Behavioral Scientist 44, 8. Sheehy, H. et al. (1998). Consumer and biotechnology: A synopsis of survey and focus group research. Journal of Consumer Policy 21, 359-386. Verfaillie, Hendrick. Our Commitments - Environmental & Social Responsibility: Monsanto Pledge. 10 Dec. 2002. Monsanto. <http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto/layout/our_commitments/default.asp>

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