Organic farming is defined, according to Britannica, as an “agricultural system that uses ecologically based pest controls and biological fertilizers derived largely from animal and plant wastes and nitrogen-fixing cover crops.” Simply put, organic farming does not utilize chemicals that are created in a laboratory. Bioengineered food ingredients that are manipulated in a lab can be found in more than 75% of processed foods. It is essential to feed a growing population as well as distribute the foods in mass production in a short period of time, but maybe there should be a reevaluation of the extent to which GMOs are used.
The Corbin Hill Food Project The Corbin Hill Food Project (change the wording of the link) highlighted the experience of an organic farmer named David Haughton. He shared how he had spent $30,000 to produce a crop of organic apples that only yielded a measly $200 profit. He witnessed how even though his apples were healthy to eat, people would reject buying them because of the signs left behind by pests. People cared more for how the food product appeared than the overall quality of the product. These are some of the main downfalls of organic farming – the small yield in profit, and the extreme dedication of time and effort to produce the crops.
Pesticides allow produce to arrive untouched by insects, making them more appealing to purchase and eat. GMOs allow food to be more nutritious and disease- and drought- resistant, allowing them to be preserved longer and provide us with some nutrients we need that we wouldn’t otherwise find in a given food. These reasons sound appealing. Ideally and theoretically, GMOs work to feed everyone in the world nutritiously. However, there are other factors involved.
We know that everything has its pros and cons, but the fact that the cons of GMOs are somewhat hidden from us is frightening and dangerous. The Center for Food and Safety, a nonprofit advocacy organization fighting against GMOs in our food, warns that since virtually all genetically engineered food contain “antibiotic resistance markers,” antibiotics could be rendered useless in fighting human diseases, causing widespread infections. In addition, the use of GMOs also have a correlation to the growth of prostate and breast cancer, according to the CFS. In 1993, the FDA allowed the use of genetically-engineered recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) to induce dairy cows to produce more milk. The levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) increased in dairy products produced from cows treated with rBGH. IGF-1 in milk could survive digestion and find its way to the blood streams of consumers. The fact that IGF-1 is an important factor in the growth of cancers is frightening. Just because the source mentioned is anti-GMO does not mean we should ignore everything that is said. There may be truth here, even if it’s exaggerated.
This study happened in 1993, and the FDA has since made some changes. There is no way we should fear GMOs and pesticides in our food, right? No, we should still be skeptical. Cancer can be caused by tobacco use, radiation, hormones and many other things. To blame genetically engineered foods as the sole cause of it is unfair. Extensive research should be done on the health issues GMOs cause in people, both in the short- and long-term.
That being said, organic farming is ideal. There are limitations such as needing more land, protecting the crops from insects, and ensuring the food is delivered and sold quickly to prevent decay. These limitations cause organic farming to become an inconvenient source of food. However, I still believe we should incentivize organic farming. For example, we could set aside more land for farmers near urban areas, so they can deliver the products in less time. Pesticides should no longer be used, primarily to reduce the amount of chemicals we consume and what our environment experiences. Instead, we should consider creating traps, or maybe utilizing homemade pesticides, to decrease some pollution and environmental damage. As for GMOs, since non-perishables are produced en masse, more people can be fed and there will be less fear of food poisoning from these foods even if they take a much longer time to be delivered. Therefore, I believe that a compromise should be made. One where pesticides are eliminated entirely, unless they are made with natural ingredients, and GMOs should still be allowed. Although the less relied-on, the better. Investments in organic farming should be expanded worldwide as well.