The debate regarding the introduction of genetically modified food into the mainstream market has created strong advocates and opponents on both sides.
Those in favor have argued the modified food would be key in the fight to eradicate hunger across the globe and their resistance to pesticides would reduce the amount of chemicals that currently saturate the market. For many it sounded too good to be true, and unfortunately, it now appears those hesitations may be valid.
On Saturday the New York Times released an article detailing an extensive examination by the paper into the actual benefits of the modification. Despite the grand claims of enhancing our world with pesticide resistant and enriching food, the study found there have been little to no major advantages to adapting to the modified food.
As promoting social consciousness became a trendy lifestyle many in the states adopted, the push toward aiding those in need bled over into the food market. A steadily increasing worldwide population also caused many to push for an improvement in the way we grew and harvested crops.
Genetically modified food seemed, for many, to be the answer. Altering the DNA of stable crops like corn and potatoes ensured larger portions of the harvests would survive and theoretically would allow the food to last longer before going bad.
The U.S. and Canada jumped at the chance to renovate farming however much of Europe chose to forgo the alterations. Now, it seems the Europeans are having the last laugh.
The Times’ analysis showed absolutely no data proving there was an advantage in yields, despite the fact the modified seeds can cost up to double do to their supposedly superior build.
The new seeds were also supposed to decrease the use of herbicides according to multiple claims of agricultural biotechnology companies. Yet the United States Department of Agriculture shows herbicide use in soybeans growing by two and a half times in the last 20 years and nearly doubling from 2002 to 2010 in corn.
If the biotechnology companies could find a cost effective way to modify the plants that would actually increase yield, the altered crops would easily pave the way to solving many of the issues plaguing society, like hunger, waste from food that spoils so quickly and drought impacting crops.
However, as is, there are no benefits and thus no valid reasons to waste time and money planting seeds that aren’t going to be competitive in comparison to the normal crops grown throughout Europe and many other regions of the world.
Yes, the modified crops can do great things for our society, but not until major kinks are worked out and the products are offered with a more reasonable production cost.
Hopefully, the lack of overwhelming success, which was what was originally predicted with the crops, will spur scientists into focusing on fixing a cracked design.