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Over the years, genetically modified foods are allowed to be produced in commercialized quantities in Africa. It has helped African famers to actually produced more at any time of the year unlike the non-genetically ones where they might not be able to grow well in drought or in unfavorable weather conditions. This prevents the high rate of famine in Africa. Also, it’s cheap and anyone can afford to buy it no matter your economic background and your social status.
Despite it numerous benefits, it also have health impact on the consumers. Basically, this paper delved more into the health risks that the African consumers are exposed as they consume these genetically modified foods.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or Genetically Modified Foods (GMFs), used interchangeably are being made by inserting a gene from an external source such as viruses, bacteria, animals or plants into usually unrelated species. Biotechnology has granted us the ability to overcome insurmountable physiological barriers and to exchange genetic materials among all living organisms.
Enhancing food security for the long-term sustainability of agricultural production systems, and the quality of the natural resource base are still important issues worldwide. In addition, pressures from population growth and inappropriate socioeconomic infrastructures have created problems with deforestation, soil erosion, and pollution.
The evolution of this agricultural biotechnology has created social and ethical discrepancies. The widespread controversy exists as to how biotechnology can be used for planting high quality and high yield crops while protecting the eco-system and human health.
While it is alleged that food biotechnology, by advancement of the plant productivity and expanding nutrient-fortified staple food, is the promising solution to malnutrition and food shortage, the accumulating evidence over 20 years of GMF introduction to the market does not fully support these claims. The consumers are mainly concerned about the long term human health effects of the bio-tech crops such as antibiotic resistance, allergenic potential and unnatural nutritional changes and toxicity. Furthermore, Agricultural based biotech companies and their affiliated scientists’ present GM food as an environmentally friendly crop. Currently 27 Genetically Modified plants have been approved for commercialization, of which includes edible crops such as alfalfa, bean, maize, polish canola, potato, and sugar beet. About 40 countries in total have approbate the commercial production of food and feed use of Genetically Modified crops that have revamp the defiance to abiotic stress, diseases, herbicides.
Since 1996 when the first genetically modified organism (GMO) was produced commercially, GM crop culture has expanded to approximately 125 million hectares in 25 countries in the year 2008.
Corporations in the United States have a vested interest in the production of GM seeds and have made their presence known to the people. They also argued that about 90% of all corn and soybean acres are planted with GMO contents in the United State.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the masses who are in support of the genetically modified foods have realized the importance of GM foods and the role they are playing in the prevention of malnutrition in the developing world; which, affects nearly one out of eight people in the world. The government of Philippine authorized and adopted the commercialization of genetically modified food in the year 2002 because of the high yields and revenues for the farmers, and the promise of low input costs due to low pesticide usage.
Notwithstanding the above, some countries have also banned and severely limited their importation. In 2011, Hungarian government burned over one thousand acres of corn crops suspected to have contained genetically modified seeds. Comment by Lucille Abruquah: You stated in the research significance about the benefit of your research to African policy makers. This section should also have something about Africa perhaps GMO in Africa because everything here is about another country with no mention of Africa. The train of thoughts is not very smooth.
Currently there is the emergence of GMOs in the African market. The African farmers are now conversant with producing GMOs. In Africa, most of the population that benefit directly from agriculture is much higher than in Europe, because 60% or more of all Africans are still farmers who depend directly on agriculture for income and subsistence. Most African countries now produce wide range of crops that have GMO content. GM foods were inherently dangerous, and might create hard-to-detect allergies, poisons, gene transfer to gut bacteria, new diseases and nutritional problems. The consumption of GMOs imposes serious health risk to the African consumer. Some of these serious health hazards includes infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signalling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.
A good number of researches have been done on genetically modified foods based on how long it has been in existence, how it is cultivated and why it came into existence worldwide as stated that the use of gene technology in food production has become interesting due to increased needs of food and as well as its improved quality.
Ian Murnaghan, 2018, argued that the Pricing of GM foods at the consumer level can vary a great deal. In some instances, prices are higher while other times they can be lower, which reflect the complex array of factors influencing GM food pricing as well as the impact of various production levels. For consumers against GM foods, they can expect to spend more if they choose organic products.
This increased cost tends to relate to the smaller scale of many organic operations – particularly local ones. In fact, the organics industry has experienced rapid growth, which some partially attribute to the public mistrust of GM products in Britain. While the full economic impact of GM foods is difficult to determine, it is clear that there is little consistency from one GM crop or market to another.
Despite the economic impact of the GMOs that are stated above, it also has health aspects that should not be undermined. The Northeast Organic Farming Organization of New York realizes that, when GM seeds produced alongside non-GM seeds, there is an increased risk for defection of genetic content with genetically-engineered genes.”
Majority of US and European children have developed high life-threatening allergies to groundnuts and other foods after consumption. There is a prospect that it is due to the introduction of a GMO gene into a plant that may create a new allergen or cause an allergic reaction in susceptibility of these individuals. A proposition to inculcate a gene from Brazil nuts into soybeans was abandoned because of the fear of causing unexpected allergic reactions.
Most researches have looked at other aspects of genetically modified food in the western countries and the European countries ignoring the impacts it has on African economically, socially and health wise. For example, the impact of genetically modified corn in the Philippines, where she concluded that bringing about genetically modified foods did not bring any improvement in the lives of the Lumad indigenous people. She further went ahead to say that it is a technological innovation that extracts profit from farmers and entraps them in debt and poverty.
Currently, there is an increase in consumption of GMOs in Africa as compared to the past decades. Due to this, more attention needs to be paid to resolving the issues relating to the socio-economic and health impact of GM foods among African consumers. This will intend help countries to successfully grow GM crops and make more room for economic prosperity at every level of the cultivation chain. Most researches have ignored the socio-economic and health impact on African consumers of genetically modified foods of which this research seeks to delve into to find out the socio-economic impact of the consumption of genetically modified food on the health of African consumers. African farmers continued to be poor and food insecurity due to the fact that the productivity of their labor in farming is becoming low and low. The population growth is now putting much pressure on maize production and other arable crops and the areas with less and unreliable rainfall suffer famine. Because about 4% only of the farmlands in the Sub-Saharan Africa goes under irrigation procedures. These factors are intertwined with human-induced climate change, are expected to increase drought risks to maize growers in Africa in the years ahead. The development of maize varieties better able to tolerate drought is one important response to this growing challenge Comment by Lucille Abruquah: Why is should more attention be paid on Africa? You can say something about the increase in GMO consumption in Africa in recent years as compared to the past (if there is reference to prove this). That could be a reason why attention should be given to GMO consumption and its impact on African countries.
In trying to solve the above problem as it has raised the concerns of a lot of people, the following research questions will be addressed; what are some of the economic benefits of genetically modified food? Does the preservation of genetically modified food easier than the organic type of food? Are there any health impacts of genetically modified food on the health of the consumers? What are the common health impacts that genetically modified food have had on the consumers? Are there any or cultural social impact of genetically modified food?
Genetically modified foods are economically effective. They have reduce the impact of hunger in many countries especially, countries with limited land in Africa. Inasmuch as it is economically good and helpful, the heath impact is also necessary to be looked at. Therefore, a test must be done on the consumers to check whether consumption of a particular genetic modified food will have no impact on their health before they should be allowed to consume. In other words, according to this research, genetically modified food expose us to dangerous health risks after consumption. Due to this, policies concerning the consumption of GMO should be strictly be in place to check their state before in order to ascertain whether it can be consume or not.
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