Arguing Cause Michael Hanson

Reflections

  • I found this part of my paper to be particularly interesting:

I really found the different risks of peanut allergies and environmental concerns to be very interesting. I am a biology major and all of the scientific facts that I learned through this research really caught my eye. I also liked learning about the ways that GMOs can help our food supply.

  • This part was surprisingly difficult:

I had a really tough time keeping with the causation without solving the problem. My writing always seemed to want to lead from the cause to the solution and I had to catch myself a few times to make sure that I wasn't solving the problem and just stating it. It was hard for me to state the cause of the problem and not try and solve it over 1500 words.

  • Next time I would do this differently:

Next time I probably would use my time more effectively. It was nice to have all of Spring Break to spend on this paper, but I didn't take full advantage of this extra week and ended up rushing just a little bit to get it done.

GMO Labeling

The goal of a sustainable and reliable food source has been a concern for as long as mankind has existed. It is one of the few things that everyone in every part of the world can agree on. People need food. With this goal and this common belief, many different strategies have taken shape in order to provide the most food in the most effective way. Early man discovered planting and agriculture; it then progressed to humans selectively breeding the best livestock in order to produce better offspring in the next generation. People learned to rotate crops on their farms to prevent the soil on their land to be used up by greedier plants. People then advanced to altering the elements by watering the crops when they were too dry and digging trenches to drain the fields when the crops had encountered some sort of heavy rain.

We now spray crops to keep away pests and other unwanted pathogens and we alter our foods all the way down to a genetic level. Genetically Modified Organisms, which will from this point on be primarily referred to as GMOs, are defined as "An organism whose genetic characteristics have been altered by the insertion of a modified gene or a gene from another organism using the techniques of genetic engineering" ("genetically modified organism").Here, Michael — I would think about now explaining this definition in a way you can be pretty sure your audience will understand. Also, think about tying it back to your argument — is this connected pesticide use? or the selective breeding? Think about it — Hamann

The use of GMOs has been a hot topic for people for many years now. The two sides of the argument seem to either be that genetically modified organisms are very efficient and are the future of agriculture, or that genetically modified organisms are possibly dangerous and haven't had enough valid research done on them to be a viable option. No matter which side a person lands on, it seems that everyone can agree that a change is needed to most effectively use this way of agriculture. see note on rubric

Many companies have paid an extreme amount of money towards preventing the requirement of GMO labeling, almost $70 million in California and Washington according to a study referred to by National Geographic (Parker). According to that same article, companies don’t want GMO labeling to be required because about 90% of commodity crops have been treated genetically in some way and it would cause more unnecessary fear among consumers than actually inform them of the food (Parker). The article goes on to say that companies encourage voluntary labeling so that products that don’t use GMOs can label their foods to attract consumers that don’t want genetically modified foods (Parker).

On the contrary, many people argue that GMOs have to be labeled so that people know exactly what they are consuming. They argue that some genes that are implemented into('implemented in' or 'introduced into') other foods could trigger the person’s allergies. An example that Roxanne Palmer gives in her article is that people allergic to nuts know to stay away from nuts, but if a nut protein was injected into another food then people may not know to stay away from it (Palmer). However, Roxanne goes on to say that this sort of a thing could be easily avoided with proper testing (Palmer). In fact, the article states that a similar procedure was done by combining a soybean with a Brazil nut gene, but the project was destroyed during development and the final product was never released (Palmer).

These are two arguments why GMO labeling shouldn’t be required and how it might even be more of an impediment than an actual positive. For one, the argument states that too many commodity crops already use GMOs and that labeling all of them would simply be redundant. The second strong argument to not labeling GMOs states that before GMOs get released, studies are already done to make sure that food that is genetically altered is already checked for safety before it is released to the public.

These reasons give a very firm and fair argument that GMOs should not be labeled, however, it would be unfair to simply look at these arguments and then make a decision about whether GMO labeling should be required. The pro-GMO labeling segment of the population has many valid arguments for their stance on the issue as well.

One convincing argument that is provided by the Non-GMO Project is that over 60 countries already have restrictions or bans on GMOs because of safety and ethical concerns (“GMO Facts: Frequently Asked Questions”). This same article states that safety studies done in the U.S. over GMOs were done by companies that would benefit by not having GMO labeling be required (“GMO Facts: Frequently Asked Questions”). It seems that this first argument from the pro-GMO segment of the population would like to tell people that the studies done in the U.S. about GMOs weren’t accurate or trustworthy and that the U.S. should follow other countries’ suits in restricting or banning GMOs.

Another argument for labeling GMOs is the environmental toll that the new products take on the environment. The “Non-GMO Project” states that the GMOs that are injected into the plants to make them more resistant to pesticides and herbicides have allowed people to spray their crops far more than they ever did in the past (“GMO Facts: Frequently Asked Questions”). It goes on to say that the use of more pesticides and herbicides are allowing invasive plants and insects to adapt to the use of pesticides and herbicides at a very increased rate and they are now becoming even harder to spray for (“GMO Facts: Frequently Asked Questions”).

People who are for GMO labeling go on to say that the “American Academy of Environmental Medicine” mentions health studies done on animals show serious health risks with the consumption of GMOs (Palmer). There is also plenty of pressure by popular opinion to make it mandatory to label GMOs. According to “National Geographic” 9 out of 10 Americans say that they support the mandatory labeling of GMOs (Parker). They say that “Consumer is king” and that people will try to buy foods that are natural and don’t have genetic alterations, going along with this, supporters of GMO labeling state that requiring labeling would let companies that don’t use GMOs profit and wouldn’t affect companies that use GMOs, since they state that it’s in nearly all foods anyway (Parker).

It seems that not having GMO labeling is a real problem that needs to be addressed by the United States. Many other countries have already taken great strides to monitor the use of genetically modified organisms and in some cases have prohibited them completely. Europe has extreme regulations on GMOs and has successfully maintained their food supply without the continuous addition of unnecessary products (Fresco). However, Louise Fresco does state that the regulations in Europe may be too harsh since it’s very hard for any genetically modified organisms to be authorized for consumption in Europe (Fresco).

The opposition that GMOs should not be used seems to be a very outlandish approach to the issue, but labeling is a way to inform the American public in a cost effective way. Not labeling GMOs causes people to not know what they are consuming and also provides a danger to people that strive to live a more organic lifestyle. It may also affect people that try to promote more environmentally friendly business techniques and don’t know which companies they should buy from.

Companies spend multitudes of time and resources to avoid having to label their products in order to prevent any competition that could arise from companies that don’t use genetically modified organisms. They state that companies that don’t use GMOs can already gain the upper hand by voluntarily labeling their products, however, this still confuses consumers since products not labeled may or may not have GMOs in them (Parker).

The concern that sturdier plants due to GMOs may entice different farmers to increase their usage of pesticides and herbicides on their crops also raises the risks of the unmonitored usage of GMOs (“GMO Facts: Frequently Asked Questions”). The increased usage of these pesticides and herbicides may protect the crops that they are meant to protect, but the secondary consequences of their increased usage could outweigh the possible rewards that are achieved by using them. A large portion of people in the United States want to purchase foods that are only naturally protected from the environment. It is hard to determine which companies and products are truly organic when it is not necessary for companies that don’t use organic practices to label their goods.

The unmonitored usage and distribution of GMOs is definitely a cause of concern in the United States. In a country that seems to have the goal of becoming healthier and getting away from processed foods, the U.S. appears to be very far behind most of the rest of the world in letting consumers truly know what they are eating. With the issues of food allergies, environmental concerns, and an overall state of ignorance in the American public; a change needs to take place in the way that GMOs are dealt with. No matter which side of the issue a person stands on, it can be agreed that keeping information from the public is a problem that has to be addressed.

Works Cited

1) "Genetically Modified Organism" The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 2013. Web. 5 March 2014.

2) Parker, Laura. "The GMO Battle is Heating Up-Here's Why." National Geographic 11 Jan. 2014. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

3) Palmer, Roxanne. "GMO Health Risks: What The Scientific Evidence Says." International Business Times 30 March 2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

4) "GMO Facts: Frequently Asked Questions." The Non-GMO Project. 2014. Web. 7 February 2014.

5) Fresco, Louise. "The GMO Stalemate in Europe." Science Feb. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.

Notes to myself

  • In second paragraph be sure to explain the quote about GMOs.

Arguing Cause Peer Review

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