Opposing Genetically Modified Organisms Essay, Research Paper
As a result of biotechnology and its wake of controversy that follows, a number or organizations have voiced their concerns toward the corporate driven discipline. As a product of biotechnologies carelessness, or motives, activist groups have risen throughout the world opposing the novelty of genetically modified organisms. The intent of biotech companies is to market and eventually sell these innovations, eventually increasing their profits and stock prices so new products can be funded while the shareholders line their pockets. Opposing organizations which see biotechnologies incentives as a danger to society and the many other life forms that exist on our planet interrupts such a process.
Greenpeace is perhaps the biggest organization in opposition to genetically modified organisms. Greenpeace is an international environmental organization which fights to help protect and restore the environment. It is currently involved in a number of areas including; climate, toxics, nuclear, oceans, ocean dumping, forests and the somewhat novel area of genetic engineering. According to Greenpeace, genetically modified organisms must not be released in the environment, as the consequences for the environment and evolution are unpredictable and irreversible (Greenpeace, 2000). Once released, the new living organisms made by genetic engineering are able to interact with other forms of life, reproduce, transfer their characteristics and mutate in response to environmental influences. In most cases they can never be recalled or contained. Any mistakes or undesirable consequences could be passed on to all future generations of life. Greenpeace addresses facts like these on their website, adding that the introduction of foreign species is a major cause of ecological disruption and erosion of biodiversity. For example, in the United States alone, 42% of the species on the threatened or endangered species list are at risk primarily because of non-indigenous species costing the US economy an estimated $123 billion a year (Greenpeace, 2000). Other activist organizations take a similar stand.
Another outspoken group opposing genetically modified organisms is the Sierra Club of Canada. The Sierra Club has been active in Canada since 1969, working on matters of public policy and environmental awareness. They also have local chapters and working groups in every region of the country. With their new, ?Welcome to the Safe Food / Sustainable Agriculture Campaign,? the Sierra Club is informing the public on the dangers of genetic engineering. They have started this campaign by distributing information packets and by making frequent visits to grocery stores notifying the public of engineered products which rest on the shelves.
With their in-your-face type of opposition, groups such as the Campaign for Food Safety and Family Farm Defenders speak out against genetic engineering. With its growing concerns on plants and animals other organizations branch off and concentrate on specific areas, such as the Environmental Defence Fund and The American Humane Society (Boyens, 2000). These organizations strive to address biotechnology from different, but interrelated perspectives in terms of environmental, health and animal consideration. Organizations such as these rely on their resources to drive messages to consumers. Resources can vary considerably, but the most substantial reserve lies in the power of money. Parties such as Greenpeace are capable of opposing such topics as genetic engineering because of their consistent fundraising efforts. As well, funding from private and public corporations allow frequent activist demonstrations to take place. The Sierra club maintains its? involvement on the activist front to genetic engineering by fundraising and corporate and private donations, making up the wealthy Sierra Legal Defence Fund. Whether its for advertisements to be run or information packets to be distributed, money is needed.
Another important resource that activist groups depend on is the breadth of the associations membership. The more members a group has, the more territory that can be covered. As well, with numerous affiliates, it allows others to follow. We often see this with celebrities gracing the presence of executives and finding their quotes and beliefs assisting in reinforcing administrative personnel.
However, the consumers serve as the main allies for these activist groups. If objecting organizations can reach the public by informing them of the possible dangers of GMO?s, then a far louder outcry will result. This will also effect political ties. If members of congress side with the biotech corporations, and activists reach the minds of the consumers, the fate of one getting re-elected is at stake. The votes of the people can persuade a political figure in addressing their needs, in turn, aiding the activist groups in their fight.
Much of the promotion of genetic engineering has centred on future benefits which have not yet been substantiated. Instability in genetic engineering crop lines has already led to crop failures which, unsurprisingly, have not been well reported by the industry. In reality, however, the widespread use of this technology has the potential to threaten the very basis of the ecosystems upon which we depend. Activist groups therefore, hold a heavy responsibility. Since consumers cannot rely on government organizations or corporate, profit driven companies to deliver the truth about our food system, it is up to the activist groups to send the message on their behalf. Doesn?t everyone want to know what their eating?
Boyens, Ingeborg, 2000. Unnatural Harvest: How Genetic Engineering is Altering Our Food. Doubleday Canada, Toronto.
www. greenpeace.org. Last Accessed: Nov. 08/2000