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The Modern Agriculture Industry Is Evolving

The Modern Agriculture Industry Is Evolving


To Meet Growing Demand
And Science Is Key to Survival
Raymond Cerwonka
St. Johns River State College
English Composition 101
Professor Shari McGriff

The Modern Agriculture Industry Is Evolving

Abstract
This paper is focused on the increasing use of genetically modified seeds and foods in our
society. Three articles were utilized as resources to cite opinions, legal implications, and
environmental impacts. The paper identifies that the use of genetically modified foods is on the
rise, as is consumer concern with these foods. The Food Industry defends that genetically
modified foods are safe and no different than non-modified foods. Critics claim that there is not
enough research or easily available information. This paper also explores the legal actions taken
by one company against its customers; a move that is uncommon in the agriculture industry.

The Modern Agriculture Industry Is Evolving


The Modern Agriculture Industry Is Evolving

To Meet Growing Demand


A worldwide, growing population is taxing our planets resources, and science, along
with nature will be needed to sustain it. Some corporations and scientists have sought to
genetically modify seeds in order to create a more reliable and plentiful source of food. In
response, there have been critics that believe these corporations are poisoning our food sources
and our lands. Some even feel that the actions of these corporations are criminal. In the end, we
must recognize that food and agriculture is an industry, it must be accessible to the public, legally
protected, and safe for consumers and manufacturers.
Healthy food accessibility continues to be a problem in a major portion of this country.
As David Zinczenko (2002) wrote Drive down any thoroughfare in America, and I guarantee
youll see one of our countrys more than 13,000 McDonalds restaurants. Now, drive back up
the block and try to find somewhere to buy a grapefruit. (p.242) Certain foods, and food
sources, are plentiful; many of those come from modified sources such as soybeans, corn, and
dairy. Although we may find fast food in abundance throughout the towns and cities in this
country, healthy foods and organic options are often limited, and expensive in comparison.
Consumers recently have demanded healthier options be available and that they, as consumers,
are informed on what it is they are eating. Zinczenko (2002) notes that prepared foods are not
subject to the same labeling rules as grocery items. (242) Calorie counts can be misleading and
are often not required to be displayed.
The business of seed modification, production, and sales is a legally protected business in
which to operate in this country. As pointed out by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele (2008),
the U.S. Supreme court extended its patent laws to include a live human-made microorganism.
(P.686) This decision made it legal for companies to genetically modify and engineer foods. One
corporation for example, Monsanto, has drawn a majority of attention regarding the ethics and
legality of these foods. According to the Monsanto Corporation (2008), they, had only 144
lawsuits filed since 1997, against customers. (P.877) As they note, this may seem like a big
number unless you compare it to their sales. However legal the industry is, many disagree with
the manner in which the business is being practiced. For centuries farmers have washed and
replanted seeds. Many companies that sell these genetically modified seeds require that
consumers sign an agreement, agreeing not to replant or resell them. As Barlett and Steele (2008)
note, This means that farmers must buy new seed every year. Though this is true, farmers have
a choice whether or not to use these seeds. Most farmers seem to use them because of their
accessibility, quality and yield. Better quality and yield equate to better product and profit. Those
who chose to purchase modified seeds and not follow the agreement are pursued in a court of
law as any other business party would be. Agriculture has become big business and as such it is
run by business people, accountants, and lawyers.

The Modern Agriculture Industry Is Evolving

With the agriculture industry continuing to grow and evolve to meet global demands, the
industry must maintain a safe and transparent environment. Many critics of genetically modified

foods dont believe there has been enough long term research to say, definitively, that it is safe.
Others note past environmental impacts left by companies like Monsanto as reasons not to trust
the source of these genetically modified foods. Barlett and Steele(2008), writing about
Monsantos Nitro plant, state that, as for the Nitro plants waste, some was burned in
incinerators, some dumped in landfills or storm drains, some allowed to run into streams.(694)
It should be noted that most of these cases are from the 1960s and 70s, an era just taking hold
of the impacts manufacturing was having on the environment. While I believe that these impacts
and practices are bad for the environment and the people in it, I also understand that business
practices have evolved over time. Pollution wasnt near as much of a consideration during the
industrial age as it is today, and still today, there is considerable apprehension from some toward
enacting impactful environmental laws. We have to decide if it is reasonable to judge a company
on its actions from a different time.
Though genetically modified food doesnt sound enticing or appetizing, it is becoming
more common place and necessary. As our population grows and our resources shrink, we need
to either conserve or find alternatives; and according to the F.D.A. there is no significant
difference nor evidence to support a health detriment when comparing modified and nonmodified foods. It is consumer choice as to which you prefer, so long as you can differentiate the
two. What is the priority? Is it personal health or environmental health? Is it a financial or ethical
decision? You ask yourself the same questions you would ask yourself if choosing to shop at a
big box store verses a mom and pop store. Ultimately, time will let us know if it is more, or less
healthy, safer, or worse for the environment.

The Modern Agriculture Industry Is Evolving


References

Barlett D. L., Steele J. B., (2008). Monsantos Harvest of Fear. Marilyn Moller (Ed),
Everyones An Author, with Readings, (pp.683-704). New York, NY. W.W.
Norton and Company, Inc.
Monsanto Corporation, (2013). Why Does Monsanto Sue Farmers Who Save Seeds?
Marilyn Moller (Ed)Everyones An Author, with Readings, (pp.875-879). New York, NY.
W.W. Norton and Company, Inc.
Zinczenko D. (2002) Dont Blame the Eater. Op-ed New York Times. Marilyn Moller (Ed),
They Say, I Say (pp.241-243) (3rd Edition). New York, NY. W.W. Norton and Company,
Inc.