Genetically Modified Crops

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Halford, N. G. (2011). Genetically modified crops (2nd ed.). London: Imperial College Press.

In this book, the author reviews the history and development of the evolving science of plant breeding and genetic modification. The book provides information regarding the establishment of the technique within the agricultural industry and applicable uses. Notably, genetically modified crops represent nearly ten percent of the world’s agriculture (Halford, 2011, p. 165). The author reviews the multiple benefits that farmers realize as a result of genetic modification, including slower-ripening fruit, increased tolerances and resistances in crops, and the addition/removal of other characteristics (Halford, 2011, p. 165). Overall, genetic modification yields better crops. Similarly, the book reviews the damages realized by European farmers for their failure to permit this technology, and advocates for changes in legislation to permit them.

The information contained in Genetically Modified Crops is accurate, and is derived from other established research in the field. The author, N.G. Halford, has written a number of books over the past two decades regarding agriculture and biotechnology. He is a regarded expert within the field, and his work is cited in several professional and peer-reviewed articles. Imperial College Press published the second edition of the text (used for this assignment) in 2011, making the information current. The second edition also updated the original text to include industry developments and changes in the law governing genetic modification. The author is not entirely objective in his position regarding genetically modified crops, and advocates for its use throughout the text. However, the book still provides a wealth of unbiased scientific information regarding the field and proves to be a valuable resource.

Prakash, C. S. (2014). A look at the recent news from around the world on genetically modified food and crops. GM Crops and Food: Biotechnology in Agriculture and the Food Chain, 5(1). Retrieved from https://www.landesbioscience.com/article/28278/ full_text/#load/info/all

This article discusses recent developments relating to the use of genetically modified crops. Of particular noteworthiness is the recent trend moving away from the use of genetically modified foods. The state of Hawaii is seeking to restrict, if not entirely ban, the cultivation of these crops (Prahash n.p.). At the same time, the fast casual food restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill is eliminating genetically modified foods from its menus, following in the footsteps of Hain Celestial Foods and Whole Food Company (Prahash n.p.). These grocers are taking steps to remove all genetically modified food ingredients from their brand-name products (Prahash n.p.). The collective positions of these large companies are in stark contrast to the viewpoint offered by Halford, who posits that the entire agricultural industry should embrace this biotechnology.

There is no question regarding the accuracy of the information included in this online journal, as each fact includes a link directly back to the source of the information. The journal was launched in January 2010, and is relatively well-established for its age. The author is affiliated with Tuskegee University, which has respected College of Agriculture. The information contained within the journal is extremely current, and offers the latest information on developments in biotechnology and the field of genetically modified crops. Although the article reviewed appeared to be anti-GM, according to the publication’s information page, the journal actually advocates for the use of genetically modified crops. The information obtained from this article is very useful, as it presents a contrasting point-of-view regarding the usefulness, and desirability, of genetically modified foods.

Wilson, R. (2014, January 10). Maine becomes second state to require GMO labels. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat /wp/2014/01/10/maine-becomes-second-state-to-require-gmo-labels/

This article in the Washington Post reviewed the current status of various pieces of legislation in the United States regarding food labeling for products containing genetically modified foods. Many states are willing to adopt such legislation, but only if other states agree to do so as well (Wilson). Maine plans to require food labels on products that contain genetically modified foods once five other Northern states adopt similar laws (Wilson). This is similar to the law passed in Connecticut, delaying action on food labeling until “a combination of Northeastern states that add up to 20 million residents pass similar legislation” (Wilson). Also noteworthy is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture currently estimates that approximately “70 percent of food products sold in supermarkets contain genetically modified ingredients” (Wilson). Food manufacturers are expected to fight the restrictive legislation.

The information presented in this article may easily be verified by reviewing the respective legislation. The Washington Post is also a respected periodical that presets accurate information, and is a trusted authority for news. The information contained within the article is timely and relevant, as it demonstrates the trend with respect to genetically modified foods. The author presents the information accurately and factually; it did not feel as though it was influenced by the writer’s personal opinion. The article similarly did not advocate for one position over the other (that is consumer over manufacturer). Lastly, the article is especially relevant as legislative activity and laws governing genetically modified foods is an important part of this research.

U. S. Food and Drug Administration Home Page. (n.d.). U. S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration maintains a comprehensive website that perpetuates consumer awareness and provides consumers with a wealth of information regarding genetically engineered plants. The FDA explains the basics of this biotechnology in simple terms designed for the general public. It also explains the efforts of the FDA to regulate “the safety of foods and food products from plant sources including food from genetically engineered plants,” and the steps that the agency takes to ensure this safety (FDA). The agency also maintains a program where scientists and other experts may consult with farmers and developers of these products to guarantee that quality standards are met (FDA). The agency has an important role in the regulation of genetically modified foods.

The information contained on the FDA website is accurate, as it is developed by leading scientists and industry experts. There is arguably no greater authority on food safety than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In fact, other writers would look to the agency for guidance. The Q&A on food from genetically engineered plants was last updated in 2013, making the information relatively current. However, very recent activity within the industry may not be captured on this website. The FDA is not an objective source of information, particularly when its motto is, “Protecting and Promoting Your Health” (FDA). Any agency activity and information will weigh heavily in favor of the consumer. Since the FDA is an authority on biotechnology, the information obtained from this website is very relevant.

U. S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). U. S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from http://www.usda.gov/

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides comprehensive information on genetically engineered crops in the United States. The website provides data regarding historical adoption levels, as well as current agricultural activity (USDA). There is significant growth in “stacked” varieties of crops (that is, those foods with “both HT and Bt traits”) (USDA). In contrast, crops with only HT traits are actually on the decline, although foods with Bt only continue to rise gradually (USDA). It is interesting to contrast the position of growing numbers of genetically modified crops with the mounting public sentiment against the use of these products.

Much like the FDA, the information contained on the USDA website is accurate, as it is developed by leading scientists and industry experts. The website even maintains an, “Ask the Expert” page (USDA). The USDA is also similarly an authority on agriculture within the United States. The data on the USDA was last updated in 2013, so some trends may not be captured here given the recent legislative activity. There is no way to gauge if the agricultural industry has begun to respond to the push back from the consumer. The USDA may also not serve as an objective source of information, as its focus is on rural America. The information obtained from this website is relevant as it rounds out the field of research for this paper.