The genetic engineering of foods has, in one sense, been in existence for hundreds of years. The first time Gregor Mendel bred different varieties of pea plants to observe the various traits present in their offspring, the concept was born. Today, genetic engineering has developed into one of the most complex and advanced fields of scientific thinking, all the while provoking many questions and acquiring many opponents along the way. While there are compelling arguments presented for each side of the issue, the simple fact is that genetically modified (GM) foods are a reality, especially in the United States, as they are already present in many products that are consumed on a daily basis. Just as the market for GM foods has increased, the level of opposition has increased as well, even up to the point of terrorist action against producers, growers, and sellers of genetically modified foods. So the question is posed, will GM foods be the future or the failure of our agricultural system?
Key Interests Represented
On the surface, there are two main actors in the conflict over GM foods; those who are for, and those who are against them. Unfortunately the situation is not nearly as polarized as that, with many key players falling in the middle of the spectrum.
The first and most obvious supporters of GM products are the biotech companies who produce and patent GM products. The industry leader in the field is undoubtedly Monsanto, who has developed many of the major GM seeds, such as the entire line of "Roundup Ready" products and "Bollgard" Cotton. In dealing with GM foods, Monsanto and companies like it must aspire for two things, a healthy bottom line (i.e. profits) and a...
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...d attempt to manipulate nature? Only time will tell.
Denson, Bryan. "Genetically engineered crops viewed as both benefit, threat". The Oregonian. February 10, 2000.
Greenpeace. "Genetically Modified Organisms". Greenpeace Website. Available online at http://www.greenpeace.org. Accessed November 8, 2003.
Smith, Kitty. "Harmony Between Agriculture and the Environment". Economic Research Division, USDA. Available online at http://www.ers.usda.gov. Accessed November 9, 2003.
USDA. "Agricultural Biotechnology: Adoption of Biotechnology and its Production Impacts". USDA Website. Available online at http://www.usda.gov. Accessed November 6, 2003.
Whitman, Deborah. "Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?". Cambridge Scientific Abstracts. Available online at http://www.csa.com/hottopics/gmfood/overview.html. Accessed November 9, 2003.
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