In Michael Pollan's essay, "Playing God in the Garden", we are introduced to the New Leaf Superior, a genetically engineered potato. This is not the first of its kind, for it is only one of the many foods that are products of an emergent development here in the United States. Monsanto and other giant transnational companies are carrying out a dangerous global experiment by introducing large numbers of genetically engineered foods into our diet. Genetic manipulations can result in unanticipated harmful effects, and because genetically engineered foods are not sufficiently tested, this experiment not only jeopardizes the health of individuals, but also affects the natural flow of nature. Pollan writes, "genetic engineering overthrows the old rules governing the relationship of nature and culture in plants." He argues in his essay that the "old rules", or natural (organic) ways of farming are no longer being valued, but rather overthrown and replaced by this new technology.
We get the impression that Pollan does not trust this genetically engineered food because it is completely unnatural. There are numerous benefits to genetic cultivation as well as many farmers who agree with and practice this way of life. Biotechnology food produces its own insecticide, and its final product is better looking than that of organically grown food. Due to genetically modified food's unique and unknown nature, however, there is potential for adverse health side effects. On page 467, Pollan writes:" When I called the E. P.
A. and asked if the agency had tested my Bt potatoes for safety as a human food, the answer was... not exactly. It seems the E. P.
A. works from the assumption that if the original potato is safe and the Bt protein added to it is safe, then the whole New Leaf package is safe... the original potato is safe, so that left the Bt toxin, which was fed to mice, and they 'did fine, had no side affects'." Pollan here implies that it is unknown whether or not these foods are safe. The fact that these products were tested on mice does not mean that they are safe for people. Maybe genetically engineered food does not harm people in any way, but no one knows for sure.
It is impossible to predict the impact of genetically engineered food; it is a matter of waiting for and observing future consequences. Genetically modified food farmers, such as Dan Forsythe and Steve Young, all agree that this new gene technology will supply plentiful amounts of food, but they themselves would not eat these foods. Forsythe says, when asked about the agricultural chemicals used in his crops, "None of us would use them if we had any choice." This, to me, shows how much more profit driven than science driven this new technology is. Biotechnology companies like Monsanto will concentrate power into the hands of a few, which in turn will enhance farmers' dependence and force them to pay inflated prices for seed-chemical packages.
In the process of succeeding organic farming, genetic engineering takes away the natural occurrence of how farming should be or how it was. Natural is planting crops and allowing them to grow into whatever shape form or quantity that nature decides for them. It is not splicing together genes of one organism and another and adding a little pesticide to it. There is a natural flow of things in this world and technology, as great as it is, should not try to impose upon that because no one knows how or why things are the way they are, so who has the right to change the way things are? No one has the right to "play God" in terms of deciding on which kinds of new species to create, or which ones to get rid of. Once a genetically modified organism has been released into the environment it can reproduce, move and even mutate. This could jeopardize the environment in a way that no one knows possible.
If genetic engineering is continuously allowed in the development of food, the lives of many people will be consequently handed over to these Biotechnology companies. In the struggle for survival there is a delicate balance between nature and humanity crucial to all species. Monsanto and the rest of these companies are slowly shifting this balance in order to control nature. No one knows the effects of what is being done; yet it continues to occur. The dynamics of creation are being taken and converted into a motive of power in which everything revolves around money. Instead, unity should be created and the balance of existence should be protected.
I think that science should be used where properly necessary, not where nature abides. Using an empirical knowledge base, instead of a strictly theoretical one, science could facilitate growth, providing wisdom. Then science could contribute a better insight into the survival of most of the world's species and stop people from destroying the balance in the environment that they are dependent upon, thus aiding mankind in the struggle for survival. Genetic engineering poses the greatest danger of any technology yet introduced. The damaging effects of genetic engineering are irreversible, but if it is stopped before it occurs then a catastrophe will have been prevented. Precautionary actions must be taken on the part of the consumers as well as the farmers to be protective of themselves and the generations to come.
People must immediately reject genetically modified food, as it is been by nature, to prevent an avalanche of deviant foods from permeating the market and placing the world at risk.