People, Environment

GMO: Pros and Cons

Genetic modification is essential to overcome challenges of food supply.  Genetic modification is essential to overcome challenges of food supply.

In the midst of disputes over the merits and hazards of genetically modified organisms among both experts and authorities, there are those who believe that the technology would be of great benefit provided ecological safety is ensured.

Isa Kalantari, the new head of the Department of Environment, has recently spoken in favor of such products, stressing that their health risks have not been scientifically proven, ISNA reported.

This is while the former DOE chief, Massoumeh Ebtekar, had opposed GMOs throughout her period in office and has recently tweeted against their development.

"GMO herbicide was once marketed as a miracle, but it turns out that its use has damaged 3.1 million acres of land. We must learn from global experiences," she said.

Proponents believe that technology is essential in the modern world when provision of food is facing challenges due to rapid population growth. Ordinary organisms will soon fail to meet man's growing demands and GMOs are ideal alternatives, as they are capable of generating a bigger yield.

Critics, however, are of the opinion that the products have not been used long enough to manifest their negative ramifications.  

There are potential harms both to human health and ecosystem. Allergic response and drug interactions are among possible biological impacts while they can seriously damage biodiversity by disturbing the ecological balance.

Ahmadreza Mehrabian, assistant professor of plant ecology at Shahid Beheshti University, embraced the genetic modification technology as a solution to food supply in the future, while asserting that ecological standards have to be defined and enforced to reduce the adverse effects.

"If ecological standards are met, GMOs will serve humankind rather than creating challenges," he said.

Mehrabian noted that the technology cannot be rejected outright, as there are as many benefits as potential harms.  

"High crop yield per unit area, lower prices, longer storage capacity, resistance to pests and reduction in pesticide use, easing the pressure on the nature and environment conservation are among the main advantages," he said.

Many countries that supply GM food products label them with a "GMO" sign so people would have a choice. These food items are also cheaper than organic alternatives.  

However, the fact that developed states, which pioneered the technology, resist the distribution of GMO products in their own countries has raised suspicions about their potential hazards.


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