Biotechnology is the modification of cells or biochemicals with certain and specific application to achieve definite traits or specified qualities. It can be achieved through monoclonal antibody technology, genetic engineering, and cell culture. In agriculture, farmers and other breeders have developed ways such as using biotechnologies to improve plants and animals and to make food and agricultural products, in an easier and quicker way. These improvements have resulted in the development of new techniques that allow us to directly change genetic material and to understand the pattern of genetic variation. Although biotechnology seems to be appealing, it is also highly controversial. It poses ethical problems and debates with policy makers, researchers, and consumers everywhere.
Most people outside the industry, consumers, consumer organizations, environmental groups, independent scientists, European farmers, and public health organizations are against agricultural biotechnology because of the potential risks biotechnology poses. These risks mainly affect human and animal health as well as environmental consequences. Toxins that may be transferred from one life form to another, creating new toxins, can be very harmful to our health. Environmental risks include the chance of out crossing, which could lead to problems like the production of more wild weeds with increased resistance to diseases or environmental stresses.
This could lead to an imbalance in the ecosystem. Biodiversity may also be lost, since the usual cultivars will be replaced by the genetically modified ones. Another reason is that the exchanging of genes, cutting out genes, and splicing in new genes from totally unrelated species is considered unethical. New toxins and allergens in foods are harmful and horizontal gene transfer and recombination, could result in new pathogenic bacteria and viruses. In addition, our bodies' antibiotic resistance genes may become useless and worthless from the spread of these resistance genes. Another argument is that with all the testing involved with GE, our planet will turn into a mess and knowledge will be lost forever.
Since we are constantly loosing species each year, what will be left are mutated life forms with unnatural combinations of genes and characteristics. New plant viruses could develop from genetically engineered crops that are virus resistant and major insect pests could evolve bio-pesticide resistance. And most importantly, some genetically engineered foods have been proven to be dangerous and have killed and disabled many people in the past. European nations, too, strongly oppose agricultural biotechnology because they fear genetically modified foods. This fear resulted from the outbreak of the human form of mad cow disease after regulators had assured the public that beef was safe to eat.
Europeans feel that GE products are unsafe for their health and their environment. Also, Western Europeans feel very strongly about their farmland. Their farmland is the closest thing to a natural environment that many Europeans have, so they view biotechnology as a source of destruction. Another important reason why European nations oppose biotechnology is that organic farming is very popular in Europe. However, some people (including biotech producers and companies) support agricultural biotechnology. The first reason probably derives from the millions and millions of money these people make each year.
Biotechnology also has the ability to increase the production in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, in countries that weren't able to grow food to feed their people before. Genetic engineering also helps reduce the transmission of human and animal diseases through new vaccines. Also, a technology has allowed rice to be genetically engineered to contain pro-vitamin A (beta carotene) and iron, which could improve the health of many low-income communities. Other biotechnological methods have also led to organisms can improve food quality and consistency. Marker-assisted selection also allows a faster and more targeted development of improved genotypes for all living species. These new techniques allows scientists to recognize and aim at quantitative trait loci, increasing the effectiveness of breeding for some inflexible agronomic problems such as drought resistance and improved root systems.
Most importantly, biotechnology is needed to feed the growing population of the world, especially in Third World Countries. I am personally against agricultural biotechnology because it has some very dangerous, harmful effects on the human health; it has some very hazardous effects on our environment; and it can potentially ruin and kill our animals and plants. I supported agricultural biotechnology, until I did research and learned more about the issue. Although biotechnology may have some pros, I feel that these pros are greatly outweighed by the cons. I am against this issue because genetically engineered products clearly have the potential to be toxic and pose a serious threat to our human health. In 1989, a genetically engineered dietary supplement (genetically engineered tryptophan), killed 37 Americans and permanently disabled more than 5, 000 others with a potentially fatal and painful blood disorder.
This happened because the bacteria "somehow" became contaminated during the recombinant DNA process. In 1994, the FDA approved the sale of Monsanto's GE recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rbh), which is a drug that can be injected into dairy cows to force them to produce more milk. This milk and dairy products, however, pose serious danger for human breast, prostate, and colon cancers. In 1996, Nebraska researchers learned that a certain Brazil nut gene spliced into soybeans could encourage fatal allergies in people sensitive to Brazil nuts. In 1999, a study found that concentrations of beneficial phytoestrogens compounds (which was supposed to protect against heart disease and cancer) actually did the opposite. More studies showed that genetically engineering food were more than likely to result in foods lower in quality and nutrition.
Obviously, from all these cases, we see a pattern that the effects were both unexpected and unsafe. These disasters did not happen only once, so there is no proof it won't happen again. By supporting biotechnology, we in a way, are willing to commit a life-long process of suicide. We are poisoning ourselves and our environment by taking the easy way out instead of realizing its long-term effects, which is very dangerous and harmful to our health, our families, our friends, and everything else in our planet.