Gerber: Genetically modified food raises ethical questions

Technology has become the ultimate maverick; it has changed our health care, our means of communication, our language, our school and our education. One area a little less noticeably affected, however, is food production.

Some food products found internationally are metaphorically similar to Spiderman; like Peter Parker, they have been altered from their original state by an outside influence. In this case, the mutation was caused not by a spider, but by human scientists working on increasing the production rates of foods like corn, soybeans and rice in efforts to help resolve issues afflicting the world like global hunger, diseases and malnutrition.

These super-powered food products have undergone a process called "genetic modification," and as a result are referred to as "genetically modified" or "transgenic." The United States is one of the global leaders in the popularization of this process, and is responsible for producing 53 percent of transgenic crops worldwide.

Now, I'm all for helping to solve world hunger, but I am not personally a fan of most transgenic food products in the way that they are being used. Our planet is supposed to be capable of sustaining all of us - this is known as the carrying capacity, or the populations of various species the environment can sustain - but the resources provided for us have not been evenly distributed. What is holding us back from achieving freedom from global hunger is a misuse, not a lack, of resources.

My argument is that yes, genetic modification is interesting and theoretically useful, but greedy people are using it to focus on mass production of corn, salmon and other items instead of the potentially medicinal qualities it could provide. The international misuse and poor allocation of food resources can be prevented, but only if there is a shift in thinking on the part of developed nations.

If we can adapt to a lifestyle that is less focused on the excessive, we could help provide other countries with the food they need. The fact that the transgenic foods can help prevent malnutrition and some diseases is incredible, so we really should just focus on that instead of on modifying them just so that they are produced at a faster rate. Salmon in particular is being modified so that it grows faster and larger, but why not leave the salmon alone and focus on the bananas that can provide the vaccination for hepatitis-B?

And what really gives us the right to fool around with nature so much? We can only push the natural world so far before it starts pushing back, metaphorically speaking. We've already changed so much on this planet to accommodate our lifestyle. Why can't we leave our food sources' DNA alone and adapt to other food sources? Why can't we work together to provide people with the health care, medicine and vaccinations they need instead of messing around with salmon DNA? It may be an optimistic viewpoint that we could change like that, but … instead of changing our world to suit us, why don't we adapt to suit the world?