An agricultural engineering method which includes the artificial inclusion of a new (and most times greater) trait to plants as opposed to the traditional crossbreeding is called GMO, an acronym which stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. Genetically Modified or GM plants are those that have been processed in a laboratory in order to make them resistant to disease, pest and certain environmental conditions.
Selective breeding or artificial selection has been practiced for ages in order to influence the characteristics of organism; however, it was in the 1900s, after the scientific discoveries of DNA, that gave rise to GM foods.
GM foods cause controversy for several reasons and it remains a divisive issue worldwide especially within Europe. For instance, 19 out of the 28 member countries are calling for a total ban of the GM foods (such as (France, Germany, Austria, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Denmark, Malta, Slovenia, Italy and Croatia). So far, the only GM crop grown in the EU (within Spain and Portugal mainly) is the GM Maize MON810; manufactured by Monsanto, an American Multinational Biotechnology Company.
There is the fear that GMOs have potential to cause harm to human and animal health and eco-systems; and, due to this, the Greenpeace (an environmental activist group) has strongly protested GM foods.
The environmental safety aspect of GM crops varies considerably according to local conditions. These fears range from the stability of the gene, the persistence of the gene after GMO has been harvested, the reduction in the spectrum of other plants including loss of biodiversity, and increased use of chemicals in agriculture.
Fears arising from the varied laws governing GMO across Europe have necessitated many groups and individuals to call for the total ban of GM across Europe. In Africa, only South Africa permitted GM foods; Burkina Faso, Sudan and Egypt permitted only cotton, of which Burkina Faso later revoked that permission due to issues bordering on environmental safety.
Monsanto is an American multinational bio-technology company which offers farmers a wide range of solutions from crops seeds (like corn, Soybean, cotton, Wheat and sorghum) to vegetable seeds, crop protection products and data solutions. Monsanto’s role in agricultural changes, biotechnology products and lobbying of government agencies, and roots as a chemical company, resulted in controversial products such as the insecticide DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange and recombinant bovine growth Hormone. Monsanto is currently the biggest producer and manufacturers of GM foods.
Looking at the above, one is left in no doubt, why the GM food is causing serious controversies in Europe and the world. Technology is great, technology is an achievement, and technology should be desired and longed for. In the social-cultural space, sex dolls (a technological drive) represents a negative advancement in our moral, cultural and religious belief. Not all technological advancement creates or adds value to the society. GM food is one of such advancements.
By Ayegba William