In this day in age, it’s shocking how exponentially more concerned people are becoming about the food they consume and what goes into their body. What’s ironically even more shocking is how little they really understand behind the labels. For years we’ve been faced with essentially two options when shopping for produce in the supermarket: organic or non-organic. While some may believe reaching for the organic product may be the best option, it’s not. Although many people swear by their strict organic diet, it seems that the public has been shielded from what else is out there. Currently hundreds of breakthroughs are being made in the field of food technology. While it may not be the precious “organic” label we’re used to, it’s a significantly better option. If “organic” foods are eliminated from supermarkets and more products alternatively produced through food biotechnology are adopted into stores, it will prove to benefit the producer, consumer and the environment.
One common misconception with organic food is that it is significantly healthier for humans. This is not proven to be true. In many instances, although organic food contains less pesticides than non-organic foods, the amount of pesticides have not proven to cause any difference in health among people. As explained by Max Whitmore in his article, “Advantages and Disadvantages of Organic Food”, one study done over a forty five year period concluded, “After reviewing 17 human studies and 223 studies of nutrient and contaminant levels in foods, researchers found little evidence pointing to superior health benefits in organic foods versus conventional foods.” This is just one of the many studies conducted proving in many instances, people are of equal health regardless of whether they eat organic/non-organic. Unfortunately, people have become so quick to judge things such as GMOs or anything that is not dubbed as organic that they completely disregard any other form of produce, no matter how great the benefits may be. In the article, “Organics versus GMO: Why the debate?,” Robert Wager discusses this.
According to the World Health Organization, 250,000 to 500,000 children in the developing world go blind each year due to vitamin A deficiency, half of whom die within a year. 250 million preschool children, mainly in urban slums, suffer from this deficiency. In all, 2-3 million people die from vitamin A deficiency-related diseases every year.
In response to this terrible epidemic, researchers produced a genetically modified crop, “golden rice”. This crop not only promised to prevent blindness and build up the immune system, but was readily available to ship to the children in need. Unfortunately, the environmental organization, Greenpeace, banned the distribution of this rice without looking into any information on the crop and simply stated they did so on account of the fact that it might cause “environmental and health risks.” It is wrongful that one-sided anti-GMO groups turn the other cheek in these situations when millions of people are falling victim to an illness that could easily be alleviated by a safely modified crop. For the same scientific reasoning they hold true behind their beloved organic crops is the same as its non-organic counterparts.
As a result of all this discrimination about food being enhanced through biotechnology, people fail to see the countless other options just waiting to be adopted into the food industry. When I say organic foods should be eliminated from stores across the nation, I don’t suggest we completely annihilate all sense of organic foods, but rather redefine and enhance the label itself and introduce people to the variety of other options out there. Allison Aubrey from her article, “Why Organic Food May Not Be Healthier For You,” discusses how scientists are “measuring nutrient levels in all kinds of crops…such as super-nutritious microgreens. They’re trying to breed new varieties of crops that yield not a bigger harvest but a more nutrient-rich harvest.” She suggests that instead of labeling food as simply “organic” or “nonorganic,” perhaps food will be labeled based on the amount of nutrients they contain.
One company named Foodini is revolutionizing the food business after creating a machine that allows you to put in ingredients you choose and create your own food, such as chicken nuggets. In her article, “Six Technologies That Could Shake the Food World,” Annie Gasparro discusses this process.
Parents can let their children pick a shape like dinosaurs or stars, and the Foodini will print—and cook—chicken nuggets in that form. Machines also plans to have inputs for fat and calorie content that will adjust the size of the nuggets or cookies that come out.
This allows people to really customize and take control of their own food to suit their personal needs. Besides touching on human health, food technologies are also being put to use to benefit the environment. When any given food begins to make people sick at a large scale, every ounce of it is tossed away. Now researchers have discovered a new concept: edible barcodes. Later in the article Gasparro explains this in stating, “Applied to food, the bar codes are invisible, tasteless and safe to eat. Created by combining segments of seaweed DNA into a unique signature, the bar codes can be applied to a single food item like an apple or a silo full of wheat used in flour.” Because of this, tainted food can quickly and easily be traced back to the source of the issue, saving massive quantities of food that would otherwise be thrown away. In an article from Crop Life International, “5 Big Biotech Breakthroughs,” another way in which food is being preserved is through producing drought-resistant crops in areas that face long periods without rainfall. As the article explains, scientists “hope to plant the biotech maize in 2017, as a recent study from the International Food Policy Research Institute estimated drought-tolerant maize could raise yields by 17% in East Africa during severe droughts in 2050.” Not only will this safe alternative save the farmers from disposing of wasted dried crops, but also produce an even greater abundance than the years before.
These discoveries have, and continue to, prove as effective alternatives to keep up with the ever growing issues correlated to today’s food industry. As these problems begin to grow and evolve, the ways in which we safely modify our food should too. Hopefully in the future, there will be no clear cut “organic” labels, but rather an abundance of other healthy alternatives all brought to life through genetic and technological means. This process can only be expedited through the support of consumers and companies willing to set aside their old biases and take a look at the breakthroughs being made in the food technology industry.
Whitmore, M. (2017, October 03). Advantages & Disadvantages of Organic Foods. Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/442122-advantages-disadvantages-of-organic-foods/
Wager, R., Popoff, M., & Moore, P. (2018, January 12). Organics versus GMO: Why the debate? Retrieved from https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2013/10/15/organics-versus-gmo-why-the-debate/
Aubrey, A., & Charles, D. (2012, September 04). Why Organic Food May Not Be Healthier For You. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/09/04/160395259/why-organic-food-may-not-be-healthier-for-you
Gasparro, A., & Newman, J. (2018, October 03). Six Technologies That Could Shake the Food World. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/six-technologies-that-could-shake-the-food-world-1538532480?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=4
5 Big Biotech Breakthroughs. (2015, February 5). Retrieved from https://croplife.org/news/5-big-biotech-breakthroughs/
5 thoughts on “Definition Essay- Alpacaqueen”
There is strong work here, Alpaca, a lot of it fascinating and inventive. I need to leave the essay here in Feedback Please for the time being because I’m committed to helping out your classmates on their Causal Essays while they’re still working on a deadline, but I believe I can help significantly with your work here when I return.
In particular, you haven’t actually helped readers understand the difference between organic and non-0rganic foods, a peculiar failing in a Definition Essay that does other things so well. We don’t know what’s involved in genetically modifying foods either, so it’s very difficult to evaluate your claims regarding their safety.
This reader would require more persuading. More to come, but you needn’t wait to start a conversation here. I’d be delighted to get your early responses.
Paragraph 1. (P1.) You have a strong authorial voice, Alpaca, which makes you persuasive. When you’re making well-defined, clear, straightforward claims, it serves you well. But let’s work a bit on those claims. And a bit about rhetoric also.
If something is shocking, it’s fair to say so. But what is shocking about people being careful food consumers (considering how much we know about the contributions poor diet makes to disease)? You’re on safer ground when you say it’s shocking how little we actually KNOW about something we CARE ABOUT. But it’s more ironic than shocking, isn’t it? I think ironic is the tone you’re looking for here.
I understand the impulse to want to make a big statement in the first sentence (arguably the most difficult sentence in any essay). I do it too. But I often overreach. What I like to do to avoid that danger is rely on facts.
Instead of trying to persuade readers in your first sentences of something for which you offer no proof, and therefore starting out weak, you could start strong with a tidbit of sourced information that establishes your reliance on authority.
I found a source in less than a minute on Google Scholar by searching “ignorance of gmo” without the quotation marks. Here’s a nugget:
“70% of the population thinks that ordinary tomatoes do not contain genes, whereas genetically engineered tomatoes do.”(Hoban, 1998; Marchant, 2001).
Now, how ironic would it be if 70% of the supposedly informed produce shoppers deciding between organic and GMO foods were so uninformed they thought GMO tomatoes contained genes while organic tomatoes didn’t?
See the effectiveness of that?
Another rhetorical comment, if I may. Too many sentences in a row with the same logical construction is very disconcerting. This is your dubious series:
1. While some may believe reaching for the organic product may be the best option, it’s not.
2. Although many people swear by their strict organic diet, it seems that the public has been shielded from what else is out there.
3. While it may not be the precious “organic” label we’re used to, it’s a significantly better option.
That’s three times you try to emphasize that our preconceptions are incorrect. Readers will begin to feel bullied if you badger them repeatedly to rethink their “uninformed” opinions.
See if you can be a good guide. Keep your tour group on the right path, but without having to warn them about the cliff in every sentence.
OK, that was a lot of commentary about your first paragraph. What do you think so far? Is this helpful, or should I work you over less?
There’s much to admire in the rest of your essay, Alpaca. You do a nice job of incorporating bits of research into your argument. Though they don’t always prove what you intend, they are good evidence of your scholarship. We can talk about all of them as you revise.
The golden rice example is a stunningly effective story of GMO success, but it doesn’t mean anything to Americans choosing between organic and non-organic in the supermarket. When you give yourself too much rein to follow every side path, it’s easy to lose sight of your destination. The nugget story deviates even farther from the straight and narrow.
But we’ve talked about this a bit. I want to keep encouraging you about your ability and your dedication to this work. I have every faith you’ll deliver an impressive final product as long as you stay devoted to doing a little bit every week to make your essay more persuasive.
I think your strongest argument so far is the demand for a more robust system of food labeling that would give conscientious shoppers real information (provided they’re smart enough to understand it and don’t think there are gene-free tomatoes).
I think a careful reading of this long article on the Politics of Golden Rice would provide you excellent insights into the realities of Genetically Modified Foods and the efforts of environmental and organic advocates to resist the adoption of such products into the foodstream.
Stunningly pertinent to your project and much more academic than the sources you’ve been consulting so far. Give it a look:
Here’s another good source on the Myths of GMOs. Insightful into why so many of us are so suspicious of food technology.