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Gmo Policies In Africa Essay

2824 words - 12 pages

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are by far the most contentious topic in agriculture and food security efforts. These crops and food products, formed through manipulation of DNA in a laboratory setting, are programmed to resist disease, drought, herbicide, etcetera, by inserting a gene from one plant or animal species into the modified plant’s DNA sequence. The science is controversial because consumers are suspicious of technology that combines different species to create what critics call “frankenfood.” However, scientists and development specialists argue that GM technology has the potential to start a “Gene Revolution,” building off of agricultural success in the ...view middle of the document...

Anti-GMO activists tend to attack the science with the argument that there has not been enough testing to ensure that there are no related environmental or health concerns to GM foods. However, years of studies have taken place to ensure that this is not the case. The French Academy of Medicine conducted a review of GMOs and found that there is “no evidence of health problems in the countries where GMOs have been widely eaten for several years.” Additionally, the Research Directorate General of the EU conducted an analysis in 2001 of 81 studies on GMOs, taking place over fifteen years and sponsored by the EU to prevent bias, and concluded that GM foods do not pose a risk above and beyond that of normal food products to health. Numerous additional and independent studies, including ones by the Union of the German Academies of Science and Humanities and for the Advanced Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology have come to the same conclusion. In fact, the main piece of evidence that critics of GMOs use to argue their case is an experiment done by Gilles-Eric Séralini, which found a connection between rats fed GM corn and higher rates of cancer. However, the study has received widespread criticism for the small number of rats used in the study (which affects the statistical significance of findings) and of Séralini’s choice of a rat breed that is known for abnormally high rates of cancer, which could further obscure results. He also received criticism for not following experiment guidelines with regard to animal cruelty. The journal that originally published the paper, Food and Chemical Toxicology, has recently requested that Séralini retract his paper.
GMOs in Europe
Europe’s approach to GM technology in agriculture is often described as following the “precautionary principle.” In other words, though there may be no evidence of harm caused by GM products, unless every possible danger is tested and disproven, there is a possibility of dangerous effects and thus the product should be strictly regulated. The presence of even a small amount of uncertainty concerning GMOs is reason to not allow the use of new technology; “hypothetical risk” holds a large sway over regulatory decisions. This overly strict regulation mandates that GM foods be treated to an entirely different set of laws and regulations than regular food and crops.
The European Commission has agreed that there is no evidence of any danger related to GM foods. However, the EU still effectively bans GM production and imports. In October 1998, a moratorium was placed on GM production in Europe, and this was replaced in 2004 by laws requiring the labeling of GM products. It is widely held that these laws are so prohibitively strict that they have the same effect on trade as the original moratorium. Europe’s antipathy toward GM products cannot be explained by scientific concerns alone, as the EU has no regulation preventing the production and use of medical drugs developed with GM...

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