Genetically Modified Organisms:
The Rise of an International Conflict
Samantha Giraud & Kiersten Isgrigg
In the past
decade, the rise of genetically modified organisms (or GMOs) has
been a source of conflict within and between the fields of technology, economy, and
morality. Recently, the GMO conflict has risen to an international scale. With the
recent law suit of the U
nited States against the European Union, it has become clear
that tensions are rising on a global scale as a result of the increasing production and
use of GMOs.
Genetically modified organisms are broken into first and second generation
crops. First gener
ation biotechnology products are the result of the overexpression of
a single gene that imparts a certain beneficial trait on an organism. Second
generation biotechnology products are more complex and require the use of several
genes or gene complexes to c
reate a product with an improved trait
(Kalaitzandonakes, 1224). There are many possible uses for GMOs including pest
resistant crops, improved medicines, and more nutritionally
Many aspects of the production and regulation of GMOs are highly
Questions involving whether and how to label GMOs, their effects on biodiversity
and human health, as well as possible national security implications are among
them. According to an article in BioScience by Maurizio Paoletti and David
ve characteristics are needed to ensure that GMOs are suitable for use.
They said that “they should be environmentally safe, have limited impact on non
A Polish ad cam
paign against GMO
Differences between European and American viewpoints on genetic issues.
target organisms, not be present in human food, not cause pest
resistance, and be able to be withdrawn
form the environment
if ultimately required” (668). As of present, many of these
criteria are not being met by the majority of GMOs, causing
conflict between various groups and nations.
Our research focused on the opposing views of the
US and Europe. As
one may expect, Europe has a
different outlook toward GMOs than the US. Europeans have experienced recent
food scares such as Mad Cow Disease and Bird Flu that have left then skeptical of
what they are eating. Additionally, Europe has deep traditions and c
around food production and preparation. Their view is that we should take a
precautionary approach to GMOs, as opposed to the “science
based” approach we
have here in the US (Falkner, 301).
This discrepancy came to a head
earlier this year
when the US,
together with Canada and
Argentina, decided to sue the
European Union over the de facto
EU moratorium that lasted from 1998 to 2004, in which the EU did not allow any
GMOs to be approved. The three countries alleged that the block was not
entifically justified, as required by the World Trade Organization. To counter this,
the EU argued that it was its “sovereign right” as a free country to make that
decision (BBC News).
Because GMO research mixes issues of science and morality, conflicts a
almost inevitable. Because of their distinct cultural viewpoints, tensions between the
US and EU have brought the debate over GMO use to a global scale.
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