Hazardous Cross-Pollination of Genetically Modified Food

When I first came across the topic of genetically modified food, I instantly imagined oversized vegetables on a crusade to wipe out world hunger. After exploring the subject of genetically modified harvest in greater depth, it became clear that this wild assumption had nothing to do with the agricultural practices involving GM foods. A variety of factors affect cross-pollination between GM and non-GM crops. These include: wind direction and speed, the ability of a crop to pollinate with insects, the compass orientation of the two relative crops and the length of a crop’s flowering period. The focus on four crop species in Europe (rice, oil seed, maize and sugar beet), of ‘The Effect of Wind Direction on Cross-Pollination in Wind-Pollinated GM Crops.’ By Martin Hoyle and James E. Cresswell (2007) is the basis for my analysis of the issue.

I discovered that cross-pollination between GM and non-GM crops happens with great ease. In particular, the immense human intervention that is required to prevent cross-pollination is somewhat alarming. Personally, I believe that GM crops must occur kilometres away from non-GM crops and under different agricultural management, as to prevent any freak accident of machinery being utilized across both types of crop. The understanding that GM food has been linked to diseases like salmonella suggests that in the Western World, its use is unjustified. Why should we risk disease in order to feed already overfed nations? I understand that a proportion of society endorses the consumption of GM food. However, it is essential that those opposing its consumption are assured that the possibility of cross-pollination occurring is eliminated.

In order to eradicate cross-pollination of GM and non-crops, farmers must ensure that non-GM crops are not downwind of GM crops, as this increases the likelihood of cross-pollination occurring. Also, focus on the activity of crops during its flowering can protect non-GM crops from being affected. As it is particularly influential to oilseed and sugar beet crops, insect behaviour must be monitored by farmers as they contribute significantly to the cross-pollination of each crop.

Those who don’t want to be subject to the negative effects of GM food consumption must be aware of the source of their food. It is truly eye opening to look at the harvest and lack of preventative measures enforced by the agricultural industry across Europe. So I challenge those who care to protect themselves from the harm of the GM based damage that can be inflicted purely out of lack of awareness of the food that is consumed.

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