How and Why Are GM Foods A Global Issue?
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How and Why Are GM Foods A Global Issue? The introduction of Genetically-Modified (GM) Foods is a current hotly debated topic in the worldwide media and generally affects the worldwide population. GM foods are based upon cloaning natural crop genes from one species to another, which do not have to be close alike conventional methods e.g. soya and maize. The objective of their use is to make crops pest, weather and disease resistant and herbicide tolerant (www.foodfuture.org.uk). At present, GM crops are not grown in the UK but are in other parts of the world. It is a factor in the process of continuing globalisation. GM seeds have been introduced into the global food chain but worldwide concerns have caused divisions and controversies due to the uncertain consequences, lack of public agreement and economic repercussions. It involves everyone - consumers, producers, governments across the world are major players in the GM foods issue. This paper seeks to answer why it is a global issue, the economic factors involved, the eco-system and biodiversity, political factors and finally summarising of how and why it is viewed as a global topic for investigation. GM foods is a global issue because it highlights who is feeding the world and by what methods.
For example, local processing of food oils e.g. sesame, coconut, etc, were constrained by a 'packaging order', which made oil production illegal without plastic/aluminium packaging. Also, the consumer want for healthier products, for example shown by research into developing healthier oils, is changing the local, natural food production methods. Furthermore GM oils that aim to substitute traditional ones (e.g. palm and coconut) could have a negative impact on economies of traditional oil-producing countries. Patenting is a concerned issue for small local poor economies as large western corporations are in effect, embezzling local knowledge by patenting food ideas as their own such as Basmati rice. The poor have to pay for what was once theirs and should still be. This leads to large corporations possessing the patents, selling the seeds to local poor economies as they have the legal right (www.geneticsforum.org.uk). Shiva (2000) claims this local knowledge is used as wealth property in world food trade. This shows the profound effect of global legislation primarily enforced by the World Trade Organisation, allowing patenting of indigenous knowledge. Western corporations have seized the opportunity whilst local originators were too unknowledgeable to realise this. Although patenting is supposed to be creating novelty phenomena, these natural occurrences such as rice products are not, but are shown as being.
She claims the global economic market trap can be changed to achieve this, but if not, spells disaster for the poor. Nature and culture should be valued highly but globalisation is negatively exploiting them by destruction. However, some would argue farmers were exploited before globalisation and genetic engineering. Others believe that the solution lies more in the complex arena of world finances and politics; that it is about profit making for the global corporations. New viruses are likely to develop with the advent of GM seeds in agricultural land, this is inevitable, but biotechnology companies believe the benefits outweigh the risks. Although this is to be expected as they are compelled to focus on the benefits as promotion. Overall, the locally produced resources need protection from the major global players which will be difficult as the global demand for food is set to rise as populations increase this puts pressure on increasing land use. However, GM technology supporters argue it could help by increasing the quantity and quality of food produced, at less cost to the environment. Many global factors are involved such as economic, political and cultural factors, which gives GM foods it's global theme. However, as it is a rising and quite new current topical theme, much of the GM information sources draw from current Internet articles (which are largely unpoliced) so caution needs to be addressed when utilising them for debate.
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