Free Research Paper On GMOs And Pesticides: The Adverse Impact
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The population of the Earth is seven billion and counting. With the number of resources in short supply, people need to the ways to meet their natural human needs like nutrition. Seeing as how limited the number of arable lands fit for crop cultivation is, there has always been the need for the stimulation of the amount of food produced. Over the centuries, the humanity has developed a great number of cultivation techniques and instruments to provide for the growing number of Earth population. While people do what is a strategic planning calculating the requisite amount of food readily available and make allowance for different adverse factors, natural phenomena like draught, flood, and pests swarming onto the fields spare not an inch of a crop lot. Genetic modification and pesticides are technologies that allow producing food in sufficient amount and fighting pests; still, the techniques have a wide range of negative effects on human health and the environment. As such, both requires replacing by more sustainable approaches to producing food.
The Applicability of the Genetic Modification Technology
Dangerous or not, the technology of genetic modification was developed for a reason. Whitman (2000) asserted that the world population had reached a high of 6 billion people. More than that, as per scientific estimates, Earth residents will become twice as numerous as they were around the 2000s in 50 years’ time. Genetic foods are what must meet the growing demand of the ever-increasing population, and the genetic technology is vital if only because it ensures crop resistance. The loss of yield caused by insect pests may be innumerable leading to both enormous financial losses and famine in developing states. Aware of the abundant application of chemical pesticides, consumers are unwilling to risk eating food that poses danger to their wellbeing. Besides, agricultural waste runoff induced by the application of fertilizers and pesticides beyond norm can poison the supply of water and do damage to the environment. Apart from liquidating the use of pesticides, the cultivation of GM products like genetically modified maize can make bringing a yield to the market more cost-effective (Whitman, 2000). The application of bug killers known as insecticides has been on the ebb since the introduction of the GM technology in the 1990s (GMO foods: what you need to know, 2015). Genetic engineering has enabled farmers to minimize the use of chemicals.
The genetic technology has found its wide application in agriculture due to the tolerance of herbicides used as a more cost-effective way of dealing with weeds as an alternative to tilling. GM plants resistant to a strong herbicide economize on money that would otherwise be spent on multiple treatment efforts as well as minimizing the environmental impact a large dose of the weed preventing substance would have. The genetic technology renders products resistant to bacteria, fungi, and viruses that result in plant diseases. What with frost and cold temperatures, sensitive seedlings can perish while the genetic modification makes products tolerant of cold. Thus, for example, plants like potato or tobacco gained the cold resistance ability following the introduction of an antifreeze gene from cold-water fish. The growth of population worldwide along with the application of land for housing in lieu of food cultivation forces farmers to raise crops in placed traditionally unfit for the production of food that will need genetic engineering to acquire the capacity of enduring draught and the high concentrations of salt in groundwater and soil (Whitman, 2000).
GMO products make it possible to overcome malnutrition prevalent in the impoverished third world states, in which people subsist on one crop as their staple diet. GM technologies can make rice rich in minerals and vitamins it normally does not have in sufficient quantities. The technology of modifying products can prove useful in pharmaceuticals. Seeing that vaccines and medicines are not in required access in developing states, their production is costly, and storage conditions are specific, and shipment is problematic, scholars are now busy with creating edible vaccines in potatoes and tomatoes. Lastly, genetically modified foodstuffs are worth producing based on such peculiarity as phytoremediation. Genetic engineering applied by producing plants like poplar trees gives them the capability of cleaning up metal contamination from polluted soil (Whitman, 2000).
According to Institute of Science in Society (2000), an open letter cosigned by 815 scholars from 82 world countries argues against the consumption and cultivation of genetically modified products in view of their harm to human health and the environment. Both the United Kingdom and the United States Governments have admitted the dangers of modified foodstuffs to animal and human health and the biological diversity. Of particular threat is the transfer of a horizontal gene linked to GMO products. Thus may people become exposed to the proliferation of antibiotic resistance marker genes that make infectious diseases incurable and the production of new bacteria and viruses causing illnesses and mutations because of a random insertion of foreign DNA resulting in cancer in mammalian cells (Institute of Science in Society, 2000).
Mayeno and Gleich (1994) stated that the negative impact of a batch of tryptophan produced by GMOs was equivalent to 1500 serious diseases and 37 instances of mortality (as cited in Institute of Science in Society, 2000). Epstein (1998) suggested that GM Bovine Growth Hormone cows receive through injection increase the number of IGF-1 in the milk associated with prostate and breast cancer in human beings, apart from causing diseases and extraordinary suffering in animals (as cited in Institute of Science in Society, 2000). Pelz (2015) stated that, in 2012, a group of scholars found that genetically modified corn stimulated the development of tumors in experimental rats. The research shed light on the practice of spraying the so-called Roundup herbicide onto the yields of corn. This pesticide falls under the category of xenoestrogens that imitate genuine estrogen in a human body inducing the development of cancers, thyroid problems, the early onset of puberty, infertility, and other health issues (Pelz, 2015). A group of 70 doctors, scholars, and health specialists opined that herbicide use intensified in GM crops increase the likelihood of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, reproductive issues, and birth defects (GMO foods: what you need to know, 2015). As mentioned above, the herbicide was a real boon for farmers sparing money on weed killers and reducing the environmental impact.
Pelz (2015) proceeded to note that Glyphosate, another weed eradicating herbicide, was found to boost human breast cancer growth. Pesticides applied for increasing agricultural crop are now known for their ability of disrupting the endocrine system, which stimulates the growth of breast tumor cells. Beyond that, genetically modified products reportedly ruin the lining of human guts, which results in imbalanced gut bacteria, intestinal permeability, and allergic reaction, which sets immune system activated with resultant autoimmune disorders that the activation process implies (Pelz, 2015). Phibbs (2000) cited Professor Moseley, a molecular geneticist, who advanced an assumption of GM product being health hazardous. What he drew general attention to was the new generation of genetically modified products called functional foods, otherwise known as neutraceuticals like vitamin A enriched rice that presents health-related risks due to the enhanced complexity of gene constructs (as cited in Institute of Science in Society, 2000).
Walia (2014) highlighted that toxins from the modified products could find their way to fetal and maternal blood, that human beings could receive the DNA of plants, consumers could develop gluten disorders that affect an estimated 18 million US residents, and that glyphosate could be at the root of birth defects, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and autism. According to GMO foods: what you need to know (2015), a joint commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the World Health Organization summarized that genetically modified products could introduce new allergens and toxins, stimulate the number of existing ones, and produce nutritional modifications in foods. The results of experiments conducted on animals to evaluate the potential health risks of GM products are indicative of damage done to kidneys, liver, and immune system. However, the long-term consequences of consumption have yet to be identified in after years (GMO foods: what you need to know, 2015). GM food and technologies of cultivating crops with minimal fiscal losses or ecological hazards set the environment as exposed to hostile chemical agents as they do human health.
Threat to the Biodiversity
Dangers to the biological diversity induced by commercialized GM crops have already revealed themselves. Wide-spectrum herbicides applied with genetically modified crops tolerant of herbicides eradicate wild plants randomly proving toxic to animal species. Garcia, Benavides, Fletcher, and Orts (1998) suggested that glufosinate was responsible for birth defects in mammals while, according to Hardell and Eriksson (1999), glyphosate had direct bearing on non-Hodgkin lymphoma (as cited in Institute of Science in Society, 2000). Institute of Responsible Technology (n.d.) stated that Roundup herbicide led to endocrine disruptions, embryonic deaths, birth defects, and organ damage in whatever concentrations in amphibians. Walia (2014) noted that GM food given to animals could cause enlarged uteri and acute stomach inflammation in pigs. According to Cotton used in medicine poses threat (1997), genetically modified crops that contain bt-toxins or bacillus thuringiensis toxins decimate useful insects like bees while Hilbeck, Baumgartner, Fried, and Bigler (1998) found the toxin to be lethal to lacewings (as cited in Institute of Science in Society, 2000).
In their respective studies, Losey, Rayor, Carter (1999) and Wraight, Zangerl, Carroll, and Berenbaum (2000) found that the corn with bt-toxins killed butterflies and swallowtails (as cited in Institute of Science in Society, 2000). Bt-plants are believed to discharge the toxin in the rhizosphere, in which it swiftly connects with the particles of soil receiving natural protection from degradation (Institute of Science in Society, 2000). Saxena, Flores, and Stotzky (1999) noted that the availability of the toxin in a non-selective and activated form would have a negative impact on species in the soil, whether non-target or target (as cited in Institute of Science in Society, 2000). Species above ground reportedly experience effects as well those in the soil do (Institute of Science in Society, 2000). Institute of Responsible Technology (n.d.) summarized the adverse environmental impact of genetic engineering reporting that GM yields along with herbicides inflict damage on insects, birds, marine ecological systems, amphibians, and soil organisms. Besides their unsustainability, genetically modified products contaminate water resources and destroy their natural habitats thereby decreasing the biological diversity of species like monarch butterflies whose population has shrunk by a half in the USA (Institute of Responsible Technology, n.d.).
The Future of GMOs
Since the effects of genetically modified foodstuffs are largely negative regardless of the presumed benefits, the future should be GMO-free. Acosta (2014) stated that there is zero federal legislation in relation to modified organisms. Instead, such foodstuffs are subject to safety, health, and environmental legislation regulating traditional products. According to Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology (2001), based on the American approach, it is the nature of products, not the process of production that is up for regulation (as cited in Acosta, 2014). The Biotechnology Industry in the United States (2013) suggested that, unlike other countries, GM regulation is conductive to its development in the United States due to the economic weight of GMOs in the national biotechnology industry (as cited in Acosta, 2014). The USA is the world’s biggest producers of GM food (Acosta, 2014). In accordance with Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity (2000), the USA is not a signee of the protocol (as cited in Acosta, 2014). Therefore, the USA along with other states facing similar issues needs specific GM product regulations monitoring safety, health, and environmental aspects. Regulation should become more oriented on production process. The country needs to reduce its overreliance on GM production and invest in other industries with economic weight. Finally yet importantly, the United States and other countries that are not yet the signatories to the Cartagena Protocol need to ratify it to ensure biological safety and the preservation of the biodiversity.
Pesticides: The Application of the Chemicals
Toxics Action Center (2012) noted that pesticides were the sole toxic chemical substances released designedly into the environment for decimating living organisms. The complex class of substances includes insecticides targeting insects, herbicides dealing with weeds, rodenticides doing away with rodents, fungicides killing fungi, and other chemicals. Managing pest-related issues by means of pesticides has become a worldwide practice. The range of chemical application ranges from agricultural fields to schools, parks, homes, roads, forests, and buildings. Whether in the form of a killing agent spread across farmlands and wood lots by airplanes or a bug spray applied under the kitchen sink, pesticides are here to stay. Due to their wide application, pesticides fill the air breathed by human beings and find their way into water, food, and even breast milk (Toxics Action Center, 2012).
A Negative Health Impact
In the May of 2012, scholars from Harvard University and the University of Montreal published a study, in which they established a link between exposure to the residue of pesticides in fruit and vegetables and the risk of ADHD. Thus, children with significant exposure to pesticide-rich foodstuffs are twice as likely to develop attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than children who are not. The disorder is fraught with impulsivity, hyperactivity, and the lack of attention. Short-term effects may manifest themselves through nausea and headaches while a more profound impact may come in the shape of cancer, and the disruption of the endocrine and reproductive systems, hormone regulation and embryonic development problems. The disruption of the endocrine system can result in infertility, let alone a wide range of birth and development defects in yet unborn children, inclusive of incomplete sexual development, hormonal imbalance, behavioral disorders, and impaired brain development among other issues (Toxics Action Center, 2012). Atrazine, a class of pesticides applied for reducing weeds in golf courses, cornfields, and other yields is linked to the impairment of immune system and reproductive organs, including sperm quality deterioration (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2012).
Lethal can turn out to be such threats skin, never, and eye damage and irritation, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, nausea, and systematic poisoning induced by exposure to pesticides (Toxics Action Center, 2012). Natural Resources Defense Council (2012) stated that organophosphate pesticides alone are capable of inducing confusion, dizziness, convulsions, vomiting, limb numbness, and a lethal outcome under the worst-case scenario. Toxics Action Center (2012) suggested that the worst thing was that chronic health problems can surface years following a minimal contact with pesticides ingested through water or food. A study carried out by the California Department of Health Services, the Public Health Institute, and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health showed that the likelihood of children of women exposed to organochlorine pesticides developing autism spectrum disorders exceeded that of other children by six times. Pesticides have the potential of causing cancers, such as non-Hodgkins lymphoma, leukemia, breast, bone, brain, prostate, ovarian, liver, and testicular cancers. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry released a study in 2009, in which it argued that the application of pesticides in households increased twofold the likelihood of children’s cancer development (Toxics Action Center, 2012).
The National Cancer Institute confirmed the high ratio of cancer development in US farmers, with leukemia, non- and Hodgkins lymphoma recorded most often. Pesticides may be instrumental in causing Multiple Chemical sensitivity, aka Environmental Illness, which is a medical condition, whereby human body is unable to tolerate even the low concentrations of chemical substances. Pesticides launches a chain of symptomatic signs associated with the disease like dizzying, depression, cardiovascular issues, joint and muscle pain. The illness can set individuals reacting adversely to whatever substances evoked no negative response. It must be borne in mind that children are the group prone to pesticides most. Exposure to the most prevalent market pesticides can affect the development of children’s central nervous system. Immune and nervous system or detoxifying mechanisms remaining underdeveloped, children are more susceptible to pesticides (Toxics Action Center, 2012). Natural Resources Defense Council (2012) noted that children’s exposure might lead children to develop behavioral issues and developmental delays and have a decreased IQ.
The Impact of Pesticides on the Environment
The effects of pesticides on the environment have been transparent since the Silent Spring, a 1962 book of Rachel Carson, saw print. Being toxic to living organisms, pesticides can accrue in all types of water systems and pollute air, to say nothing of critical environmental impacts. Agricultural lands stand to incur serious damage since the substances damage useful soil microorganisms, insect species, and worms in charge of keeping soil healthy and restricting the populations of pests. Beyond these, pesticides cause such effect as the weakening of plant immune and root systems. In the aftermath of an extensive exposure, soil grows impoverished due to a decrease in the content of plant nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen (Toxics Action Center, 2012). Pesticides inflict harm on bees that turn sick since polluted nectar and pollen end up in their hives. The US beekeepers now have half as many bees as they had before the past decade, which threatens the American food production ability (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2012). As may be judged by the arguments, the use of pesticides for crop stimulation has counterproductive effects since it renders the soil unfit for plant cultivation for years to come. The level of nutrients stays low until replenished by farmers. The decimation of microorganisms and other significant elements of the ecosystem can disrupt the ecological balance locally.
Pesticides: A Look into the Future
Though used to cultivating by means of pesticides, the humankind may be best served by rejecting their application. Toxics Action Center (2012) noted that water, air, soil, and food must be set free from toxic chemicals like pesticides. What people would better do is resort to cultural and nontoxic agricultural tools. Human and environmental health are possible objectives to reach given sustainable pest management approaches and organically produced foods. Ephrati (2013) recommended reducing chemical pesticides by 80% gradually substituting them for natural anti-pest vegetable oils. According to Toxics Action Center (2012), federal and state agencies ought to require that a precise autonomous testing like that of synergistic pesticide impact be implemented. Pesticides suspected of or known for producing health issues need phasing out. So long as children are a risk group, the application and presence of pesticides is unacceptable in places where children play and live, parks, schools, and playground included. Such places must implement mandatory nontoxic pest management programs.
It is advisable to provide local authorities, farmers, home proprietors, and business ventures with technical aid on the nontoxic replacement of the dangerous substances. Alternatives should apply to pest issues like the control of West Nile virus and mosquito nuisance spraying. Poisoning communities and polluting water resources via pesticide application must be a taboo. To this end, essential is for the authorities to look to it that waterways stay safe from pesticide-related contamination, which is achievable though a stringent set of rules controlling buffer and spraying zones that deter the adverse impact of drift. People should be prohibited from applying the chemicals for aesthetic purposes, as should they be from using the chemicals with regard to water bodies. Rather than using pesticides, people may have recourse to the nonchemical management of aquatic invasive weeds. Farmers and workers should receive adequate protection preventing them from developing chronic and acute poisoning with pesticides. Residents have the right to be notified of the application of pesticides like reasons, time, place, ways of use, and other aspects (Toxics Action Center, 2012).
Genetically modified organisms applied to ensure pest and disease resistance and herbicide, drought, salinity, and cold tolerance. GMOs find their extra application in the pharmaceutical industry and phytoremediation. The organisms are responsible for the proliferation of antibiotic resistance marker genes making infectious diseases incurable and the production of new bacteria and viruses causing illnesses and mutations. Prostate and breast cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, thyroid problems, the early onset of puberty, infertility, reproductive issues, birth defects, gluten disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and autism. Genetically modified organisms harm insects like bees and lacewings, cause endocrine disruptions, embryonic deaths, birth defects, and organ damage in whatever concentrations in amphibians, and birth defects in mammals among other effects. Water resources, insects, birds, marine ecological systems, amphibians, and soil organisms all sustain the damage of genetically modified products. Countries need to reduce their excessive reliance on the crop stimulation technique in the form of investment, ratify biodiversity-protecting protocols, issues regulations monitoring safety, health, and environmental aspects of GM production.
Pesticides are toxic substances used for dealing with living organisms like fungi, rodents, weeds, and insects across farmlands and wood lots and in a variety of other fields. Toxic pesticides have similar effects causing issues in endocrine and reproductive systems, hormone regulation disorder, and embryonic development problems. Unborn children are prone to incomplete sexual development, hormonal imbalance, behavioral disorders, and impaired brain development. Pesticides have the potential of causing cancers, such as non-Hodgkins lymphoma, leukemia, breast, bone, brain, prostate, ovarian, liver, and testicular cancers. Children may develop behavioral issues and developmental delays and have a decreased IQ among other effects. Environmental impacts emerge in the form of air pollution, water system degradation, and biodiversity extinction. It is advisable to replace pesticides with more sustainable alternatives like anti-pest vegetable oils. No pesticides should be in proximity to children while people must have their awareness raised. New mechanisms should be developed to control viruses and insects. Overall, both GMOs and pesticides have similar health and environment effects. In addition, both leave the opportunity of their replacement with ecologically safe alternatives.
Acosta, L. (2014, March). Restrictions on genetically modified organisms: United States. Library of Congress. Retrieved from: http://www.loc.gov/law/help/restrictions-on-gmos/usa.php
Ephrati, A. (2013, July 2). Agro shelef: replacing chemical pesticides with natural anti-pest vegetable oils. NoCamels.com. Retrieved from: http://nocamels.com/2013/07/agro-shelef-replacing-chemical-pesticides-with-natural-anti-pest-vegetable-oils/
GMO foods: what you need to know. (2015, February 26). ConsumerReports.org. Retrieved from: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/02/gmo-foods-what-you-need-to-know/index.htm
Natural Resources Defense Council. (2012, July 2). Pesticides: What you need to know. NRDC. Retrieved from: http://www.nrdc.org/health/pesticides/
Pelz, M. (2015, February). How harmful are GMO foods? Family Life Chiropractic. Retrieved from: http://familylifechiropractic.com/how-harmful-are-gmo-foods
Toxics Action Center. (2012). Organizing with residents to clean up and prevent pollution in New England since 1987. Toxicsaction.org. Retrieved from: http://www.toxicsaction.org/problems-and-solutions/pesticides
Walia, A. (2014, April 8). Ten scientific studies prove that genetically modified food can be harmful to human health. Global Research. Retrieved from: http://www.globalresearch.ca/ten-scientific-studies-proving-gmos-can-be-harmful-to-human-health/5377054
Whitman, D. (2000, April). Genetically modified foods: harmful or helpful? CSA Discovery Guides. Retrieved from: http://biomed.brown.edu/arise/resources/docs/GM%20foods%20review.pdf
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