Energy is transferred between several forms of species through the complex food chain that begins with the plants. Plants or the producers are the primary sources of energy as animals and human beings feed on them or other animals to gain energy for survival.
When these organisms, both producers and primary consumers, or their genes are modified, there is a risk that the energy consumed could become counter-productive and lead to hazardous health and environmental effects.
The organisms, including plants and animals, whose DNA is modified in laboratories are called (GMOs) Genetically Modified Organisms and they becoming a part of the food chain are what have stoked controversy in the recent years.The proponents of GM crops argue that human species has been genetically engineering food crops for thousands of years with a method popularly known as cross-breeding, in which the effects of modifying genes are not readily available to be studied or observed.
On the contrary, modern-day genetic engineering technology allows scientists to carefully introduce genes to a different species and study their impacts beforehand.
Moreover, most of the research on GM foods have nullified the claim that they are harmful, despite the fact that there are possibilities that researches are funded by parties having a big fortune at stake and whose benefit is only at winning the debate in favor of GMOs.
For instance, Monsanto, one of the largest US-based multinational agrochemical corporation, argues that with the growing population, 255 babies every minute a day, genetic engineering is the only way to produce more crops by making them resistant to pesticides and save the world starving to death.
But the angelic corporation that takes a huge interest in saving the world from hunger has claimed hundreds of thousands of farmers’ lives who incur debts to buy Monsanto seeds that are claimed to have high pest resistance avoiding the need for expensive herbicides.
But, eventually, the pest resisting quality of the seeds disappear forcing farmers to use costly herbicides, shipped again by Monsanto, to reap only lower yields against what was promised. This pushes farmers to the brink of their lives through bankruptcy resulting in higher suicide rates.
The Daily Mail in 2008, termed this avalanche of farmer suicides in India ‘a genocide in history’. Nearly 250,000 Indian farmers have ended their lives in the past decade.
Moreover, Monsanto doesn’t allow farmers to save seeds as they had continued to do for generations. Monsanto sues those who do ‘brown bagging’ by claiming intellectual property rights over the seeds and the high cost involved in producing them. Vernon H. Bowman, a soybean farmer from Indiana, United States was asked to pay $80,000 for saving the seeds, an act which one of the justices compared to bank robbery.
Thus, Monsanto doesn’t sell seeds but rent them out to farmers; they can use, but not own them.
It’s not just Monsanto. There are a handful of companies including Dow, Syngenta, and Bayer vying to control the food supply of the world and remain at the helm, as Kissinger once famously said, ‘control food and you control the people’. These conglomerates do a lot of political lobbying to buy the power that keeps them afloat in the business.
All these anti-social impacts of genetic engineering businesses can be summed up as an argument for those who oppose GMOs. Monsanto, like any other corporation, has a shrewd business model that wants to pay better dividends to their shareholders making profit multitudinous.
In their path to destroy competition and opposition, they fund shady research that conclude recommending GMOs. In their glory to save the world from starvation by offering genetically engineered food crops as an alternative to traditional ones, they are polluting the nourishing vitals imbibed in the food chain with unknown chemicals that have adverse effects on environment and health.
A large amount of petroleum and its products are used to make synthetic fertilizers. For instance, Ammonia is made from natural gas and nearly 317 billion cubic feet of the gas is used to produce ammonia in 2004. The increase in demand and the rise in natural gas price had sky-rocketed the price of fertilizers.
The pro-GMO claims that organic farming without the use of any synthetic fertilizers would consume more land and cannot match up the yield produced by synthetic farming that makes fertilizers in a chemical plant, unlike the organic farming practitioners who grow animals and use manures, water, and land resources to make fertilizers by no synthetic means.
Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug said in a 2002 conference then that organic farming cannot feed a population of 6 billion. One of the major reasons for this claim is the rotating crops by organic farmers to control pest and hence the non-synthetic form of farming would require more land to yield more. Recent studies have proven just the antithesis of this supposition.
Organic farming, even though gives little yield in the beginning as the soil takes its time to negate the effects of synthetic fertilizers, would match the yield of what has become the conventional way of farming with the help of synthetics. Research has found that organic farming can yield as much as or more than what synthetic farming can.
In central India, a seven-year study on 3200 hectares of organic farming land has proven that the yield of cotton, wheat, and other crops is 20% more than that of synthetically farmed lands. As the businesses of fertilizers and GMOs involve huge money, the will to analyze the capabilities of organic farming is absent. But, that doesn’t change the fact that organic farming can be more productive and a feasible way to feed the world.
Related video: Why Organic, Sustainable Farming Matters | Portrait of a Farmer