Genetically modified food is among the most controversial health topics in the United States today. This has seen major live talk show hosts subject dissect the issue regarding its positive and negative elements. Scientific forums have also provided consumers with important information on the actual content of genetically modified foods. This has only served to deepen the anguish of the consumer who is at the middle of stakeholders struggling to market the benefits of using genetically modified products. Fernandez-Cornejo observed that farmers, technology providers, seed suppliers, and consumers are all benefiting to some extent from the adoption of genetically modified crops in the United States (19). This shows how despite the existence of significant agreement among stakeholders regarding the uses and benefits of genetically modified foods, more still needs to be done in order to establish the relativity of these claims. Some would suggest the adoption of an econometric model to explain their interrelationship, while others would prefer using a value based approach. In as much as there may seem to be a balance in terms of gain to the consumer and grower, the latter seems to be benefiting more from their unique association.
Available statistical evidence shows that growers are the ones benefitting from the production of genetically modified foods. In a world where economic prospects have been dwindling since the beginning of the most recent depression period, the entire consumer culture in the American society has gone through a metamorphosis with consumer increasingly settling for cheaper and more sustainable options. According to Fernandez-Cornejo, in 1997, the stakeholder’s share in the adoption of a genetically modified food variant that is herbicide resistant was represented as follows: farmers had 57.1%; biotechnology firms had 4.6%; and seed firms had 1.6%. (19). Again, here the grower benefits from the lack of knowledge among consumers regarding genetically modified foods. Some genetically modified variants use fewer pesticides, which translate to reduction in pesticide usage and decreased labor among the GM growers (Moschini 105). Thus, the growers successfully reduce their labor and pesticide expenditure, while maintaining their profitability index.
Indeed, growers are the ones benefiting more from the utilization of genetically modified foods compared to consumers. From the econometric evidence given by Fernandez-Cornejo, it is evident that there is an elaborate chain in the production, which takes little recognition of the consumer’s needs. It also appears that growers are benefiting from a weak regulatory framework on the need to provide consumers with product information. Additionally, consumers in the US tend to consume more of processed foods than any other nation. For instance, 70-70 percent of processed foods consumed in the US actually contain genetically modified ingredients, but US consumers are not aware about this fact (Albert, Janice, Tufts University, and Food Policy & Applied Nutrition 146). Thus, growers are indirectly benefiting from the high rate consumption of these foods, yet very little is done in terms of consumer sensitization.
Looking critically at the issue, it is important to note that due to the problems like food insecurity, growers tend to get a lot of support from governmental and regulatory authorities. This is because stakeholders in some countries tend to adopt pragmatic attitudes by opting to solve agricultural problems with regard to genetically modified (Casabona 162). For example, presently, the United States is the leading producer of genetically modified foods in the globe, represented by 54% of total land according to 2006 estimates (Albert, Janice, Tufts University, and Food Policy & Applied Nutrition 145). It such attitudes that led to less information flow to the consumer regarding the content or origin of the food they are consuming. In actual sense, consumers would actually benefit more from the association through clear labeling of the genetically modified products (Evenson and Santaniello 128). In a recent survey that was conducted by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology (PFIB), it was revealed that approximately 60% of the total participants believed that they had never consumed genetically modified foods, and on further analysis, the researchers discovered that United States consumers actually underestimate the amount of genetically modified foods they have eaten, albeit without knowing it (Albert, Janice, Tufts University, and Food Policy & Applied Nutrition 145). This reveals weakness in the system, which in the end benefits growers because it is consumers spending their funds.
Lastly, growers actually have a higher advantage than consumers when it comes to the issue of genetically modified foods. The current regulatory framework makes it easy for final products to reach to the consumers with little knowledge of the content. As a result, consumers end up buying food items unsuspectingly from the counters. The fact that the items are cheaper in price; they have found their way into the processed food category. Thus, coupled with consumer unawareness, growers are unfairly benefiting from this aspect of gullibility. To address this issue, there is need for proper labeling standards to be instituted by tightening the existing regulatory framework. In as much as food security is an important global issue, given the declining economic conditions and seek for sustainable options consumers deserve to be protected from possible exploitation from the growers. This way it will be possible to safeguard human health by creating a balance between nutrition and cost of genetically modified foods.