Genetically modified organisms, or GMO’s, are the organisms which allow for foods that have been genetically enhanced by scientists in a laboratory. For years GMO’s have been used in everyday foods such as candies and even chocolates. Genetically modifying food and more specifically the technique of selective breeding, has been in use since 5000 B.C1. Farmers for years have crossbred related species of plants and created new plants with desirable traits. Many of the foods we eat today would be unrecognizable by our ground tilling ancestors for the kiwi was once a bitter gooseberry and the tomato was once a toxic South American berry.
Due to current technological leaps made in biotechnology and molecular engineering the barrier of transplanting between species has now been broken. The genetic manipulation from entirely unrelated organisms such as fish, viruses, bacteria and even other animals allows for the creation of genetically altered super foods. In doing so these genetically altered foods can offer much to the world: less fortunate countries will be able to provide crops that offer the staples of life in the harshest of environments and in great quantity as to rid the world of hunger and starvation. Foods can be created that are enriched with all the essential vitamins and nutrients required to retain healthy lifestyles. Genetically modified food can also offer the creation of crops that are resistant to the most virulent of pests. Genetically modified organisms present the world hope in the midst of anguish and destruction.
The current issues with regards to Genetically Modified Organisms have only recently come to attention in North America. The debate has been raging in Europe and Asia for quite some time and critics there contest that GMO’s are harmful to people and to the environment. Some of their worries are: such modification to foods will lead to the creation of new allergens, pests will create resistance to altered crops, the altered crops may harm useful insects and that the altered crops will escape into other non modified crops.
The public policy issues can be broken down into four major sections with a major concentration in this document on the labeling of GMO foods.
* Is there a need for the labeling of GMO foods?
o The distinction between GMO labeled products and those that are not makes for a growing issue in the eyes of the public.
* Is there a need for the segregation of GMO crops from Non-GMO crops?
o Worries abound that GMO crops will spread by wind, bee and air to other Non-GMO crops thereby contaminating and possibly upsetting the balance of natural selection.
* Are the health issues being addressed by government regulatory agencies?
o Issues such as the overall safety of GMO foods and the risk of allergies brought on by such genetic modification.
* In this current age of free trade, how are we to regulate the import and export of GMO foods?
o The safety risks are one thing, but the world distribution of GMO products could lead to further economic problems and new tariffs in order to control the import and export of such goods.
Importance of the Issue
A strategic form of evaluation for labeling foods created with Genetically Modified Organisms would be an improper method of assessment with regards to the importance of the issue. By using this form of assessment it is vital that the public be heavily involved in the process. This would not be a viable route to gaining the support we need. The risks attached to strategic assessment are prominent. The possible negative reaction by the public with regards to GMO foods and our intent to keep labels off the produce would heavily work against us in our lobbying efforts. Public opinion is obviously important, but there is no use for the public in our lobbying efforts at this time. We would require a resolution to our issue from the Minister of Agriculture Lyle Vanclief. Using the strategic assessment would achieve our goals indirectly making this method less effective.
The operational assessment approach would be the best choice for advocating our stance against the labeling of GMO produce. No public stance is taken, which makes way for us to go straight to the source with our lobbying strategy Minister of Agriculture Lyle Vanclief.
The topic of Genetically Modified Foods and labeling is an advocacy issue. There are concerns present such as health and safety issues, environmental issues and the major issue of whether the labeling of GMO foods should be required by law. The future impacts of such issues are wide and varied. The health issues raised deal with allergies and how modified foods can possibly affect people without proper labeling being present. A fruit or vegetable that has been modified with a peanut protein may cause an allergic reaction unbeknownst to the consumer. The merging of different species of organisms and plants has unknown future effects that may not emerge for years, even decades to come. The environmental issues are just as important as health and safety issues. The future of crops around the world depend on the advances that are being made in biotechnology and engineering. Domestically in Canada a major positive factor is the use of GMO seeds that grow into anti-defoliant resistant produce. The crops can be dusted obliterating the weeds and leaving the produce completely intact. Worldwide the use of GMO seeds could allow for crops to be grown in even the harshest of conditions with the least amount of tending allowing nations in places like Africa the ability to grow superior crops in the midst of draught conditions.
Genetically Modified Foods and the issues surrounding them require a complex solution. A solution is required that covers the interests of the general public and their ability to express their preferences. The media and their ability to allow the public to express their opinions are important as it gives a broader public opinion on the topics that would allow for a more amicable solution to the issues at hand. The public in general tends to be undecided on the issue of GMO foods where some are extremely for it with regards to the help it can provide to foreign countries in need and some are extremely against for the many reasons already discussed in this paper.
The use of interest groups would help identify the public issues even more in depth and allow for a set agenda to be created. This timeline would allow for advocate solutions to be given and help influence the course of action required to gain the desired outcomes to the problems. The need for political influence is necessary to help advocate the position of the industry. The issues can be identified from a governmental position and thus solutions can be put forth that would be amicable for both parties. The view of the public is important but cannot be allow deviation from the position that the industry has taken. The input received would be used to help further the lobbying position on the issues.
The target of this lobby action is the Minister of Agriculture Lyle Vanclief.
The lobbying technique of this paper is not the Public Route by rather the Direct Route using quiet diplomacy. The next step in the process is that of formal and informal meetings with policy makers. The subsequent submission of the many briefs, memos and policy papers leads to appearances before parliamentary committees. The lobbying process would continue with telephone calls, faxes and letters to the decision makers, i.e.; Minister of Agriculture. The idea behind the seemingly endless onslaught of communication is the goal of obtaining a successful lobby for the industry’s cause. Simply allowing the world to continue on without any rebuttal to the condemnation of a safe and proven means of food production would constitute nothing less than desertion from the common goal of the industry as a whole.
It is vital that coalition building be utilized. The industry though heavily competitive must band together and fight for their cause. The likes of Monsanto, Novartis and AgrEvo must work together at protecting their interests in lobbying process. They all have common interests such as furthering their research, creating new GMO foods that can help end hunger and developing pest resistant products. These techniques will be used as they are quiet diplomacy at its finest.
The stakeholders with regards to this issue are far reaching as the topic is a world wide issue. The general public has a vested interest in the issue as they are the demographic most heavily influenced by the decisions made in government. The media can help make or break an industry. If the public swing is negative towards the issue the media may capitalize on that. As such it is up to the industry to inform the media in order to keep its interests safe. Keeping the interest groups at bay is a major difficulty in an industry such as this one. Greenpeace and any other number of interest groups are always up to the task up disrupting the interests of industries such as ours. It is therefore our duty to try and inform them as best is suitable to the situation. Doing so appeases the masses. In the end what matters is that of the political leadership. Without their support there is no point in lobbying at all, it is vital that the government be informed so as to create a respectable rapport that would benefit both sides. GMO foods are here to stay. They pose no more a risk to the populace than many of the other foods we tend to eat on a daily basis. Once locations such as some of the impoverished nations around the world begin to benefit from such foods and produce, the hardliners against GMO will realize their ignorance.
“GMO Foods: Fight Over the Food Chain” http://www.hillwatch.com/hotissues/HotissuesHome.htm
“The Debate over Genetically Engineered Food.”Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Encyclopedia 2001. (c) 1993-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency, http://www.inspectio.gc.ca/english/ppc/biotech/biotechd.shtml
Health Canada – Bureau of Microbiohazards
Health – Nutrition Evaluation Division/Food Labeling
Lobbying – Department of Industry
1″The Debate over Genetically Engineered Food.”Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Encyclopedia 2001. (c) 1993-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.