Genetically modified organisms (GMO) were created in the 1970s when scientists discovered they could edit the genes of an organism to give them different traits and features and even fix genetic defects that are harmful. GMOs have been the source of many controversies since they were created (Smith 2007). The two articles go into quite a few of these controversies and show both sides of the argument.
Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, both of the Hoover Institution, argue that these genetic modifications improve the agricultural output of the world and make food safer for human consumption. Jeffery M. Smith, who is the director of the Institute for Responsible Technology and the Campaign for Healthier Eating in America, argues that GMOs are not safe for human consumption, as they have not been tested, and should be taken out of the American marketplace. While both articles get their point across well, the second article was argued more effectively as he was able to use a more evidence-based approach that was able to refute the other side as well as solidify his own views.
In the second article, Jeffery M. Smith talks about the harmful effect of GMOs and the inadequate research that has been done into their safety. This point is well made in the opening section of the article where he talks about scientist Árpád Pusztai’s research in 1996 that found that some GMOs cause health problems in rats and “raised serious question about the safety of all GM foods” (Smith 2007). While this should have created a public outcry, his research was buried with the threats of lawsuits, he lost his job, and the project was terminated (Smith 2007). When he was finally able to speak out about his work, most European brands dropped GM foods out of fear of public outcry, effectively ending removing them from Europe. Smith goes on to talk about how a small outcry, through the power of the market, could effectively end GMO around the world and how this would be a benefit because of the real risk of GM foods. Smith is able to effectively outline the issues with GM foods and show how the public should react to get them removed from our food within the first few paragraphs of the article.
Smith talks about numerous ecological effects that GM food causes including numerous reports about animal deaths after eating GM foods. The article is published in The Ecologist, a British environmental journal. The audience of the article would be very concerned about not just the effect on human consumption but also of the ecological effects. Smith is able to address his audience effectively in his article.
While Smith focuses on the problems that GMOs create Miller and Conko focus on the problems that they are able to solve. Miller and Conko believe that GMOs should be used and they perfectly safe and help fix numerous problems. The main argument Miller and Conko discuss is that GMOs have the ability to solve issues with the greater danger that is posed from naturally grown food. They use numerous examples of this including the European food poising epidemics, birth defects of Mexican babies caused by food, and even how the Salem Witch Trials could have been caused by food related illnesses to show that we shouldn’t trust “Mother Nature” (Miller and Conko 2006). The main argument in the article is that naturally grown food poses a great danger to human health and how GM food is able to solve this problem. This argument is well written as it shows many events where GMOs could have fixed the issue. This helps the reader relate to people that have suffered from naturally grown food as know one wants to suffer from these same tragedies.
Miller and Conko address the benefit of GM food, they never address the issues that arise with it. While GM food solves all the problems what issues arise with human consumption? This is never addressed inside the article. This creates a huge flaw in the article that is difficult for any reader to ignore.
The tone of the first article is very harsh and demanding. This can be seen in the last few paragraphs in which he calls out numerous groups for “in varying measures, of sacrificing the public interest to self-interest and of helping to perpetuate a gross public misconception — that food biotechnology is unproven, untested, and unregulated” (Miller and Conko 2006). Miller and Conko are very upfront in the article that they believe that GMOs are completely safe and should be used. This creates a tone that is harsh and not very accepting of the other side argument. This is conflicting with the tone of the second article where Smith uses a more evidence-based approach that is able to show the facts without alienating the other side of the argument
The two articles show the advantages and disadvantages of GMOs through points based off of evidence. Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko are able to point out the issues in natural food and why GMOs should be used to fix them. Jeffery M. Smith shows the problems that GMOs create when we use them for human consumption. While both sides show strengths, Smith is able to argue his point more effectively in his article through the use of Árpád Pusztai’s story while also offering solutions that are attainable to remove the use of GMOs in the world’s food.
- Miller, Henry I., and Gregory Conko. 2006. ‘Scary Food.’ Policy Review 232-239.
- Smith, Jeffery M. 2007. ‘Not In My Fridge!’ The Ecologist 240.