As we live in a society where we think we are educated and have knowledge about many things but still there are few things which are not known. Keeping in view the fact one day, I was given a task to do research and make the analysis on GMO as part of my assignment that the institute can publish it in their student journal. In my research, I came across many things which I didn’t know before that it existed and how we are unaware of the fact that we are consuming it in our daily life. Yes, I am talking about our daily consumption of food.
As the time is passing and people are getting more and more knowledge about food consumption there lies a gap in the information they are getting because if we talk about the food we have to look at the resource from where it is coming and being made from. We need precise information on ingredients by doing the labeling of food. Labeling is something very important for us because lack of awareness often deceives a consumer’s purchase decision, they often do not know what they are eating and it can be only known if they go through the labeling of the product. What label tells us is the mixture of a quantity of every ingredient in that product. Many of the brands do not focus on labeling because they are not fulfilling the basic standard of food laws which are one of the big issues in our society as they are not showing the ingredients. As food labeling plays a key role for diet conscious people, it will help them in identifying the quantity of ingredient which they are consuming.
Another important problem of our society is obesity and the reason behind obesity is the harmful product which is subsidized. Like many people do not go for organic food because it's quite expensive rather they go for the subsidized product which is directly affecting their health. In simple words, we should buy expensive vegetable to be healthy or buy cheap medicine to be healthy. If we talk about companies who are manufacturing product they are on the way to fulfill the demand of the consumer and as a result gain more profit out of it. The manufacturers are making the product more convenient to use even knowing that consumer has to bear some cost on making their process efficient as we can take the example of many big names they are running not walking to increase their profits. Industrial food has many types of hidden cost either it can be the social cost, health cost etc.
What is a GMO?
GMO is any living thing which has made changes in its DNA using genetic engineering. This creates the combination of plant, animal, bacterial and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. GMO in food was first introduced in 1994 by Calgene, Inc. marketed its Falvr Savr delayed ripening tomato. Their characteristic includes that it delays the process of softening of tomato after it ripens from the farm. Now a day’s many products are made from this technology and are labeled as well to aware the consumer about GMO in it. But there is no concrete evidence that they are harmful to health as it is still a controversial debate in the world.
GMO in Pakistan
Pakistan also produces GMO foods i.e. BT cotton is grown on a large scale (Ali and Abdulai, 2010). There are other crops which include soybeans, maize, corn and tomatoes which is exported and consumed by the people but there lies a problem of labeling GMO foods in Pakistan because there is no proper channel of labeling of GMO in the country and regulatory authorities are still in process of making policies of labeling GMO.
After adopting the new farm technology in the period of green revolution in 1960’s many of the traditional ways of farming was discarded this puts an end to organic food for consumption. Now food that is available for consumer includes chemicals in the form of pesticides and herbicides. GMO food also alters the natural property of food which can harm the health of people consuming it. Some of the risk related to biotechnology may include,
Risks of GMO food
Many GMO foods contain content that causes certain allergies to consumer i.e. peanut oil and soybean extract.
• Decreased Antibiotic Efficacy
Types of seeds are altered using antibiotic resistance genes in the genetic engineering process which as a result creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria which can infect people and causes serious health issues.
In 2013 the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology which shows a study conducted on rats which were prone to cancers due to intolerance of GM corn. The results show cancer and premature deaths in rats which concludes that more research is needed to assess the long-term effects of GM food on human health.
• Gene Transfer
Another risk of genetic engineering is that certain modified genes can migrate in the environment which can cause herbicide resistant gene to cross over other crop creating new superorganism (i.e. “superweed”) that can eliminate natural animal and plant population in the world.
The debate over GM food is still going on in the world, some people believe it is safe and others think it causes harm. But as a consumer, we have to be aware of our purchase decision and should think over the idea of the source of the food we are consuming in our daily life as it is very important to have awareness about GMO food and its effect in the long run. In our society, people are less educated on many things and how marketers place a certain product in front of the consumer to attract and influence their purchase decision.