Rutgers Model United Nations - IDIA
Rutgers Model United Nations 9 ensure the reduction of mycotoxins in the crops themselves. In addition to preventing mycotoxin growth, genetically engineered foods may reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 37 Genetically engineered crops reduce the need for pesticides, leading to a 6 per cent reduction in the worldwide use of pesticides in 2005. 38 By reducing the needs for pesticides, genetically modified crops are also responsible for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions produced during agricultural practices. The total reduction was ten billion kilograms of carbon dioxide, approximately equal to the removal of five million cars from the roads for one year. 39 These reductions are critical in the fight against greenhouse gasses, and the use of genetically modified crops can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as cancer risks associated with contaminated foods. Current Status While biotechnology companies developed GM foods to boost crop yields and protect crops from pests, these same companies research and develop new foods to release on the market. Scientists predict that these new genetically modified crops will have longer shelf lives, will not contain naturally occurring toxicants or allergens, and like their predecessors will continue to be resistant to pests and herbicides. 40 Crops void of naturally occurring toxicants or allergens will most likely be potatoes free of glycoalkaloids and peanuts free of allergenic proteins. 41 Scientists also predict that these genetically modified crops will yield renewable sources of new materials, such as plastics derived from oils and starches contained in oilseed rape (canola), potatoes and corn. 42 While genetic engineering may be the way to create these wonder crops, there are also dangers associated with genetically engineered plants and foods. One of the biggest dangers of GM foods is the chance for contamination of other plants. When genes are 37 Theunissen, Izelle 38 “Biotech Crops Reduce Pesticide Use”, PG Economics, http://www.pgeconomics.co.uk/GM_global_study.htm, accessed 4 April 2007 39 Ibid. 40 Leighton Jones, “Science, Medicine and the Future: Genetically Modified Foods,” BMJ, 27 February 1999, http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/318/7183/581 41 Ibid. 42 Ibid.
Rutgers Model United Nations 10 artificially inserted into a plant or animals genome, they will remain there through any reproduction process. When a pig is genetically altered to have human growth hormones in order to increase the size of adult pigs, those same genes will be passed on if the pig mates with another pig. The same process occurs in plant pollination. When genetically engineered cotton plants pollinate the air, any natural cotton fields may become contaminated with genetically altered cottonseeds. Crop contamination can wreak havoc on the environment and hurt environmental diversity. GM foods parallel to the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s with the development of penicillin. Bacteria continue to evolve, and thus are becoming resistant to penicillin, spawning the creation of multiple penicillin imitators, such as amoxicillin. Biotechnology companies must consider these dangers when developing genetically modified crops, in order to protect the environment as well as the consumers of the genetically altered products. The United States is currently the leading producer of genetically modified crops in the world, responsible for two-thirds of all genetically modified crops planted throughout the world. 43 In 2005, 52 per cent of corn, 87 per cent of soybeans, and 79 per cent of cotton planted in the United States was genetically modified. 44 Furthermore, between 1996 and 2006, the amount of land used worldwide for farming genetically engineered crops increased from 4.2 million acres to 250 million acres, with more than half of that increase occurring in the United States. 45 Since the United States is the leading producer of genetically modified crops, many states look to this state as an example GM food policy on an international level. The United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for approving all food products before farmers or companies disperse food to markets. These food products include genetically modified foods, which the FDA has no restrictions against as of now. The only problem with the current system in the United States is that while the FDA regulates which crops sell directly to consumers, it does not regulate the crops sold to farmers as livestock feed with 43 Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, “Genetically Modified Crops in the United States,” http://pewagbiotech.org/resources/factsheets/display.php3?FactsheetID=2 44 The Los Angeles Times , “Laws target genetically altered crops,” 4 April 2007 45 “Laws target genetically altered crops,”