While I have a basic understanding of genetically modification, I thought it best to research further into the controversial issues surrounding genetically modified organisms, such as their effects on the environment as well as their international implications.
Due to concerns over GMOs and their potential to limit biodiversity, in 2000, approximately 135 nations signed the Cartagena Protocol. The Protocol establishes an Advanced Informed Agreement (AIA) to ensure that countries are provided with necessary information (food labels, health risks, etc.) before agreeing to transport food products into their territories.
Interestingly enough, the United States, which is the largest exporter and producer of GMOs, is not a member of the Protocol. After extensive research into this topic, I am still uncertain as to why the United States has yet to accept the agreement.
Less developed nations such as South Africa don’t allow the importation of produce from the United States or Canada because these countries do not clearly specify the amount or type of GMOs they transport. Poorer countries lack the financial resources to conduct testing on GMOs and many do not want to risk introducing potentially dangerous genetically modified products into their cultures.
Having all nations agree to the terms of the Protocol seems like a quick fix to many of the issues concerning GMOs. I don’t understand what is preventing the United States and other nations from adopting this agreement. Furthermore, wouldn’t it prove beneficial to everyone if we simply labeled all our foods? This reminds me of our discussion on government policies and gay rights. To me, it seems easiest to extend equal rights and benefits to homosexual couples. However, it’s not that simple. Gay rights are regulated at the federal level and are a concern to tax payers as well as national legislators. Our complex system of government and policy-making makes it hard to understand the reasoning behind any of our policies, including those involving food.
Anton Christo Welgemoed. 2007 Genetically Modified Organisms: tamed kitten or tiger by the tail? Electronic Document, http://www.jstor.org/stable/23252665, accessed October 20.