The Purpose of this report is to help consumers decide on which type of food is most suitable for them based on their cost, environmental, and social concerns that have emerged from this argument.
There has been extreme controversy between genetically modified food’s (GMO’s) and everything around the creation of them. As seen in figure 1, you see that America is using GMO’s as a main source for crucial crops in our country. Since people do not fully understand how GMO’s or organic foods are made, they tend to lean towards foods that are created more “naturally”. People are not completely notified on both products pros and cons. This then creates the problem of which one is best to purchase.
Technology has been advancing exponentially over the past decades. Humans have always had an issue having a consistent supply of food. With our new technology we have created food through genetic modification to help crops not only be more self-sustainable, but easier to maintain as well. The argument between these two have a ton of information to counter act each other, so in this report we will focus on only three main criteria’s. Choosing between GMO’s and organic foods can be done by comparing how much it takes for them to be created and maintained until ready for harvest. You can also choose between GMO’s or organic foods by seeing how the production of these two products effect their surrounding environment, and how these new methods of making food has affected the public views on them. This recommendation report will be focusing on these three criteria, having the cost of these two crops being weighted the greatest, followed by their environment effects. Social concerns of these commodities will be weighted with the least concern because frankly, what other people think shouldn’t be a concern to you.
GMO’s have increased their presence in all areas of food consumption from Corn and soy to Salmon and Beef. This has caused companies specializing in organic foods to be concerned, which cause them to create their advertising angles to show how by eating genetically modified foods could cause some adverse side effects. Companies specializing in GMO’s try to show the public and media that there aren’t any studies that prove this (Magkos, 2006). However once people hear something first, it then becomes difficult to change their minds. When you hear the word organic foods, most of the time what comes to your mind is words like “Fresh” or “Natural”. Here we will see how the media and social thought have affected your decision between organic foods or GMO’s.
There have been many organizations trying to stop GMO’s from becoming the leader in food consumed. For example, on the website nongmoproject.org, they define the creation of GMO’s as “This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.” Adjectives like “unstable” creates this paranoia against GMO’s. I conducted a study in front of the mall to ask people to rate their concern if their organic foods are contaminated by GMO’s. The results are on Table 1, and as you can see, people who buy organic foods are more concerned that GMO’s are “contaminating” their foods. Organic foods is considered a commodity because they are made all natural without any genetic modifications. “We feel that it is important to establish an internationally harmonized framework for the safe handling of recombinant DNA organisms within a few years (Divine, 2013).” This journal states that since genetically engineering is still a new technology and it is not completely known of all if any adverse effects present.
While it may be obvious that genetically modified organisms are not lethal or detrimental to your health, it is still speculated that they could when you buy organic. Since GMO’s are so easily and readily available to the public, people aren’t aware if they are eating GMO’s or not. This scares people, which leads them to buy Organic foods.
Genetically engineered organisms main purpose is for the crops to be easier to produce. One way to produce easier is the use of less pesticides. Crops like corn and soy have been modified to produce their own pesticides. With that, Organic foods have the same susceptibility to infections and bugs eating them as any other crop does. This makes companies use more pesticides in order for them to have a higher yield (Gabriel, 2013). These pesticides can get in unwanted places like runoff water as well as the soil that can harm the animals and plants in the surrounding area. This is the main environmental concern between the both of them.
Pesticides are one of the main causes of species fatalities, the poisoning of local ecosystems, and plants and animals having birth defects. In the figure below, you can see how pesticides get into the local environment. Even though a lot of it is decomposed or degraded, there is still enough that can cause serious ecological problems.A recent study showed that the pesticide neonicotinoid was associated with killing bees (Ladics,2015). Such insecticidal use can pose a substantial risk to wild bees in agricultural landscapes, and the contribution of pesticides to the global decline of wild bees may have been underestimated. The lack of a significant response in honeybee colonies suggests that reported pesticide effects on honeybees cannot always be extrapolated to wild bees(Rundlӧf, 2015). This pesticide is mainly used in organic foods to treat from bug infestations. On the other side, a bacteria in the soil, Bacillus Thuringiens is, has a naturally occurring pesticide. Engineers have integrated their DNA that produces the pesticide into different types of crops. These crops are known as Bt crops. A survey of small Indian farms between 2002 and 2008 concluded Bt cotton adoption has led to higher yields and lower pesticide use, decreasing over time (Krishna, 2012).
Even though both organic and genetically modified food companies use pesticides to protect their crops, the conventional GMO uses fewer pesticides that harm the environment around them. Organic foods, which are organic, do not have the required genome to protect themselves, so the companies use extra amount of pesticides to protect their crops. More pesticides correlate with an increase in bee population decline and other animal being exposed. Bees are paramount to crop survival because they are the main insects that pollinate our crops and every other plant.
This criteria is the most important of the three because as we seen in the past, some product can have a terrible effect on our world or us, but if it’s cheap, then is it really that bad? Organic foods need a lot more care and tender than conventional genetically modified crops because they don’t have the defenses that have been engineered in their DNA. Pesticides, employment of plant “treaters”, and many other factors leading to a safe and high yield of organic foods does not come cheap. In consequence, they will cost more in the supermarkets.
For the data on table 1 was acquired at a Kroger’s supermarket in Houston in April of 2015. In table 1, you see that organic foods cost more than the conventional (contains GMO’s) foods at the grocery stores. By adding the organic sticker/logo on any product you’re going to have to pay a little extra. On the other side, GMO’s are designed to be cost-effective. Specific benefits such as increased pest resistance and the ability to withstand weather extremes. This makes them have less labor costs and increased flexibility in growing practices (Murnaghan, 2015). The downside to the cost of specialized GMO’s is that if a situation changes, where the scientists need to create a new genetic modified organism, that would take a lot of money to accomplish. This being an independent variable to the overall cost of GMO’s we will not take consideration to this data.
In order to appraise and get a proper result on crops cost effectiveness between the two requires years of monitoring the cultivation of the crops and the commercializing and marketing aspects of that crop. In figure 4, USDA Market News shows us from 2007-2011 that in general, conventional corn was more expensive to purchase than its Organic counterpart. This clearly interprets the fact no matter what time it is, organic food are going to be more expensive than genetically modified foods.
This report has evaluated the choice of purchasing either genetically modified foods or organic foods based on three criteria. These three criteria have weight from least important to most important with social concerns, environmental impacts, and their cost effectiveness. Organic foods look more appealing to the general public. The main problem with organic or genetically modified foods environmentally speaking are the amount of pesticides needed for them to survive. Since we learned that more pesticides are needed for organic foods, this cost more, so organic foods need to be priced higher. This concludes that organic foods are not better cost related.
Based on the finding of social concerns, Organic foods would be recommended because they have less bad publicity behind them. For the criteria of environmental concerns, I would recommend genetically modified foods because they don’t need as much pesticides in order to still have a high yield. Pesticides have been concluded to have been the main concern from both types of foods. The last criteria was weighted the most as to the main reason GMO’s exist today is because of their cost-productiveness. I would recommend genetically modified foods based on the findings and data.