Advancements in all fields of technology are inevitable in the information age, like the invention of the New Leafs in biotechnology. These technological advances have brought society to a new improved level. It is because of this biotechnology that we have so many advantages such as improved crops and efficiency with time. Although biotechnology has many benefits, the consequences of it make one question the value of these advances.
Time is the key factor for biotechnology, being that is the most valuable thing to man and has no price. “An average single American farmer can feed up to a hundred people in an average year, not including the expenses of fertilizer, pesticide, machinery, etc.” (Pollan 460) Biotechnology causes the plants to have an increased growth rate making it more time efficient, and apparently healthier than other plants. Plants are now capable to defend themselves against harmful insects and diseases without the use of harmful pesticides. It has created a new level of importance for the agriculture society by replacing all the expensive and toxic chemicals that were previously used to cultivate the plants. But is this the safest method to be practiced upon our agricultural industry and human health.
The relationship with the land has been destroyed. If we look at trees, for example, they are being cut down for the production of paper, napkins, etc. These trees are essential to human life, animal life and even plant life. This disrupts the cycle in which everything revolves around and everything begins to fall apart. In Michael Pollan’s, “Playing God in the Garden”, technology has helped Monsanto create the “New Leaf Superior.” The use of “Bt” and “Monitor”, insecticides used in creating these organic potatoes, have “been found to cause neurological damage” (469). This clearly shows that the safety of our people is not at all a primary concern for the business industry. A lab is an uncertain place where operations are taking place. “There’s no way of telling where in the genome the new DNA will land, and if it winds up in the wrong place, the new gene won’t be expressed, or the plant may be a freak.”(463) So can we trust technicians in the lab whether they are in a bad mood or sick? This causes a big strain on the public.
Uncertainty is the main issue here. The uncertainty that the beetles might develop resistance to the pesticide. This can lead to “biological pollution.” Pollan points out that “biological pollution could end the effectiveness of one of the safest insecticides we have-and cripple the organic farmer who depends on it”(465). Again, is human health worth the cost of creating biotech crops? “Any Colorado potato beetle that takes so much as a nibble of my New Leafs will supposedly kneel over and die”(459) Is killing these beetles right? They are living organisms too.
Today in the 21st-century companies are about status and global competition. The more efficient they are the better the product. Efficiency comes with technological advances. However, this has an opportunity cost leading to unemployment. Machines take over people so more and more people are losing jobs. Is Monsanto’s “New Leaf Superior” a product of efficiency? Forsyth, a biotech farmer, himself states, “The New Leafs don’t come cheaply, however. They cost between $20 and $30 extra per acre in technology fees to Monsanto” (469). This technology is expensive. Expenses come with big risks and are worth taking. But the expense for Bt is not worth taking with all the harmful additives it comes with. Creating biotechnological crops is not worth hurting our human health.
We have the right, as people of a society, to accept or reject technology. Technology is helpful in many ways. It has helped us cure diseases, increase the production of products, and even helped us discover that there is life outside of earth. But when it comes to a point where it is a threat to our own existence, it becomes a major concern. We can start by demanding the F.D.A. inform buyers of insecticide on labels. Animal testing is also a major concern especially when the “mice are not even eating the potatoes, but the Bt itself.”(467) Mice are living organisms too.
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