Rutgers Model United Nations - IDIA
Rutgers Model United Nations 1 Introduction Genetically Modified (GM) foods have circulated on the market for consumers since 1994. Food companies alter food by replacing undesirable traits in the food with desirable ones on the genetic level. By altering, replacing, adding or deleting genes, scientists are capable of engineering foods that resist herbicides and pesticides, maintain longer shelf lives, increase nutrient density, withstand harsh weather conditions, and package and ship easier than the original product. Although the genetic engineering process improves the product, issues rise with the use of genetics in the food industry. While genetic engineering improves crops in numerous ways, consumers become skeptical of the benefits once there is doubt in the real nutritional value of the foods. Even though no longitudinal studies measured the effects of genetically modified foods on the human body, there are no reported cases of genetically modified foods causing harm to or the death of a human being. GM foods exist in use throughout the world and benefit the world’s food industry, but predominantly in the United States. Despite all of the benefits associated with genetically modified foods, states within the United Nations took critical positions on the trade and consumption of the foods. During a food shortage in 2002, Zambia refused to accept food donations from the United States because a portion of the corn donated was genetically modified. Venezuela, once learning the Monsanto Company planned to use genetically modified soybeans in Venezuela, voided its contract with the Monsanto Company and did not allow the sale of Venezuelan land for the growth of genetically modified crops. The European Union enacted a ban on GM foods for all member states, not just banning development but the import of genetically engineered foods as well. Despite the international concerns over genetically modified foods, companies continue to develop new foods for consumers. Foods without allergens and naturally occurring toxicants are currently in development. Scientists predict new designs of genetically modified foods as renewable sources of plastics and fuel, currently seen in the use of corn and sugar Ethanol in the United States and Brazil.
Rutgers Model United Nations 2 The United Nations, as a forum for international debate as well as compromise, needs to be active in the debate over GM foods. The benefits are undeniable, and gm foods could solve the world dependence on fossil fuels, provide food security for struggling states, and prevent the spread of disease through developing states. The drawbacks, however, are not yet known fully, and without further research, it may be difficult for member states of the United Nations to come to a well-informed conclusion on whether or not to use GM foods. Background Genetic modification (GM) is a part of biotechnology that occurs when an organism’s genetic material is altered using recombinant technology. This process does not occur naturally, but the modification can be replicated and transferred to other cells or organisms. The technology used for modification entails manipulating DNA after removing it from the cell. This new genetic information is inserted into the same organism or another specimen, allowing for new characteristics to be associated with the organism. 1 GM foods first came to the commercial market in 1994 when the Calgene Corporation first sold the Flavr Savr tomato to the market. 2 By modifying the genes of the tomato to stop the creation polygalacturonase, an enzyme that softens the tomatoes by breaking down pectin in the cell walls, the tomatoes can stay on the vine longer to ripen. 3 Normal tomatoes must be picked while they are still green in order to prevent damage during shipping. The wholesalers then ripen the tomatoes by exposing them to ethylene gas, the ripening agent that occurs naturally in tomatoes. 4 Unlike the Flavr Savr tomatoes, normal tomatoes do not reach full flavor because farmers pick the crop too 1 “Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use),” Health and Safety Executive, Crown Copyright 5 July 2006, http://www.hse.gov.uk/biosafety/gmo/index.htm , accessed 29 August 2007 2 “The Flavr Savr Tomato”, CBC Archives, http://archives.cbc.ca/IDC-1-75-1597- 10980/science_technology/genetically_modified_food/clip1, accessed 4 April 2007 3 “Biotechnology of Food”, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/biotechn.html, accessed 4 April 2007 4 Ibid.