Good Evening, it has come to us employees at “Research on the cultivation of transgenic crops” division will close down shortly after this year. While we understand that there are a lot of reasons why you arrived at this conclusion, but please allow us to explain why you should give a second thought to that possible decision of closing down.
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Genetically Modified Crops (GM, also known as genetically engineered or transgenic food) are all those that have genetic modifications generated by a human, meaning modifications that would never have occurred naturally in the environment. In the majority, they have useful genes coming from other species introduced in their DNAs, which enables them to be resistant to drought, insects, weeds or pesticides, as well as be nutritionally fortified. The first products based on GM crops were introduced in the United States’ market at the beginning of 1990, after almost 29 years of research and labor. Since then, the GM plants spread fast and widely, being the most rapidly adopted technology in the history of agriculture.1 Nowadays, about 18 million farmers plant GM crops in their fields, and in countries like the U.S. and Brazil, the GM grains represent 95% of the total amount of grains produced.2 However, despite the rapid adoption and popularization of the GM, some people are still resistant and fearful of engineered crops. In my opinion, some hesitation is always expected when a new technology arises, transgenic food should be seen as a solution instead of a problem. Therefore, although some disagree with the breeding, farming, and commercialization of GM food, We as a team strongly support it, because of three main reasons: first, there is already a huge amount of evidence that can support GMs safety. Secondly, they are environmentally friendly and finally, they can increase the yield of plantations, thus being a key solution for problems that the world is going to face soon, like the necessity to feed more people in a scenario of drastic climatic changes.
Authorized countries with GM food production and consuming
Let us start with the primary concern of safety regarding the consumption of GMO food. From what we have done as a team of biotechnologists, food scientists and chemical engineering scientists have worked together to develop new genetic materials that can increase production on a large scale. The main purpose is to improve the plantation by transferring genetic materials to one organism to others, a process that formerly added the main characteristics wanted to produce crossed-breeding plants over the next generations. With the technological improvement, nowadays, new techniques are available to have safer and precise results, identifying the right gene to produce immediately the wanted microorganism. The acceptance of new bioengineered crops can vary in different nations and may cause mixed feelings in people. While the United States had a good market acceptance of new products, in Europe, the introduction of new modified crops caused a backlash in some countries. This difference can be seen when approximately all the corn produced in the US is genetically modified but only two crops are accepted in the European market. Also, almost 70 percent of the community see that as a dangerous risk compared with 14 percent of the Americans.3 Although the amount of people against GM foods has been decreasing, there is still some opposition standing, and often in a robust and sometimes misinformed way. Their main argument to refute transgenic foods is the lack of evidence to prove their safety to the environment, to the human population, and other living beings.
The GM varieties are strictly regulated and are held numerous tests before being released for commercialization and consumption. This means that before placed in the supermarkets, each transgenic food has its safety, for both living beings and environment, carefully assessed by governmental regulatory entities, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The process of testing can last years or even decades, what makes of the transgenic the most extensively tested products that the world has ever seen. Along with this fact, several data can confirm GM crops safety: after 20 years of use of GM food, with trillions of transgenic meals already served, not even a single problem of product safety reported. A variety of scientific research about safety problems in engineered modified crops are made each year, however, it has never been detected any significant hazards directly connected with transgenic seeds.4 Finally, yet importantly, The American Association for the Advancement of Science stated in 2012 that crop improvement by modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe. The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the British Royal Society also have corroborated with that statement. Therefore, there is a huge source of evidence that had already proved that GM is safe for humans, for the environment and other living beings.5
Another important point in the support of GM research continuation is its benefits for the environment. As mentioned before, one of the main traits of modified crops is the resistance to drought. It allows breeders not only to grow plants in dry soils but also to use less water in irrigation, without affecting the quality and vitality of the plant. It has enabled the economy of 42.2 billion liters of water since the global popularization of the transgenic, in the late nineties.6 Also, there are genetically modified seeds resistant to insects, which allows eliminating the use of insecticides, and similarly, there are GM plants resistant to herbicides, which has allowed the decreasing in use of these substances in approximately 35 percent since the first cultivate. This is important to prevent soil, water contamination by these chemicals, and also decrease machine work, part of the reason why since the popularization of GM crops, the emission of 930000 tons of CO2 has been avoided. Considering all those data, we can affirm that GM foods are not harmful to the environment, but on the other hand are helping to save water, diminish the greenhouse effect and preventing soil contamination by chemical compounds.7
Expected population by UN
When talking about food, there is the main problem knocking in our doors: the UN has forecast a world population of 10 billion people for 2050, which makes necessary increase food production in seventy percent until there, or people will go hungry. Furthermore, food production should be increased without causing damage to the environment, because of that, it is necessary to increase aliment production without cut down more trees to increase the plantation area. In my opinion, GM foods are the only alternative to this problem, once that they yield more compared with conventional plants. Without modified crops, it would be necessary to plant an additional 132 million hectares of conventional seedlings to meet the demand, and this is not viable.8 Moreover, the transgenic plants yield more even in precarious conditions, which guarantee food production even with bad weather conditions. So, it is doubtless that we cannot ban genetically modified food, otherwise, we will have a food security problem. This means that not only we can feed the hunger but increase sales production since more food-related resources will be necessary in the future world.
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As the team of the Research on the cultivation of transgenic crops, we believe that we will change the future as the team, working together to solve the population, plantations and, climate, issues in the next decades and for our future generation. We would greatly appreciate it if you give a second thought about your decision about razing our division.
- 1. Fraley, R (2014). Genetically Modified Foods debate – Intelligence Squared U.S., Retrieved in December 3, 2015 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7iLPJMEkiU
- 2. Beer, R. (2015). Um celeiro de bom senso. Veja Maganize (p. 82-87). São Paulo –Brasil.
- 3. Commonly Asked Questions about the Food Safety of GMOs. Retrieved in December
- 4, 2015 from http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/food-safety.aspx.
- 4. International Service for the acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. Retrieved in December 4, 2015 from http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/44/executivesummary/default.asp.
- 5. Genetically modified crops. Retrieved in December 4, 2015 from http://www.fao.org/docrep/015/i2490e/i2490e04d.pdf : publisher: FAO
- 6. Where GMO crops are grown. Retrieved in December 5, 2015 from http://blog.lawlatte.com/index.php/2013/07/gmo-answers/
- 7. Rodowicz, K. (2009). Chemical Engineering Innovation in Food Production.- Chemical Engineering in Action. Retrieved in December 4, 2015 from http://www.chemicalengineering.org/docs/cheme-food.pdf publisher: American Institute of Chemical Engineering.
- 8. History of Genetically Modified Foods. Retrieved in December 5, 2015 from http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/workspace/sect008/s8g5/history.htm.
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