The dawn of genetic engineering has made it possible for a lot of plants and animals to be altered to withstand different conditions for the purpose of added production and increased availability. GMO wheat is one of these products, although there are also several individuals who contradict the idea. It is important that you know what these products entail and what are the possible cons and risks that come with consuming them.
Growing the Wheat
At present, genetically modified wheat is cultivated and grown in different parts of the world. In 2004, plans to grow and introduce GM wheat in North America were let go. Experts, however, are still looking for new ways to enhance the product via genetic engineering. Monsanto company, the biggest agro-biotech company worldwide, passed an application to Canada and the United States in 2002, approving the modified wheat that can withstand herbicides. Monsanto also withdrew the application in 2004.
Several farmers are at risk of losing their jobs and other selling opportunities, should their products be denied by markets in Asia and Europe, where people are very skeptic about genetically modified food. There are concerns revolving around the export markets that these might dominate the potential advantages provided by being herbicide resistant. The herbicide resistant wheat, according to Monsanto, will cause reductions in the use of herbicides leading to lessened costs on labor and machines. The company also expected profits rising anywhere between 5% and 15%.
Danger to Farmers
Although herbicide resistance can be a plus for growers, there are massive potential problems that come with the GE wheat. A lot of the supply of other products like soybeans, corn and canola can be contaminated by genetically modified seeds. Several standard and organic corn farmers are already losing their markets, since the crops are known to be positive for a lot of GM characteristics. A lot of experts also indicate that it is almost impossible to discover non-GM canola in Canada because of the wide proliferation. Wheat pollen can be even more invasive compared to canola.
The new GM products will be patented, which means that farmers cannot freely plant and sell the seeds and products. 90% of all GM seeds being used today are being sold by Monsanto. This opens the possibility of creating a monopoly that will take out a lot of earning opportunities for growers and farmers. Prices can be increased without any fear of competition.
Danger to the Economy
The wheat is a big threat to the wheat market in the United States. Since the European Union does not buy GM crops, the loss of markets for genetically modified crops and products went over 300 million dollars each year. The US is the biggest wheat exporter in the world. Foreign companies have also presented that they will not buy GM wheat if this is grown in the area. Korea is the 5th biggest buyer of US wheat exports. GM products also do not need to go through independent safety reviews. So it is not fully known whether or not it is good for the environment or human consumption.