GMO’s

Genetically modified organisms also known as GMO’s have become a very controversial topic. Some people agree with this process while others not so much. What are GMO’s exactly? According to Non GMO Project, GMO’s are living organisms whose genetic material has been altered and manipulated within a lab setting. Typically, animals, plants, bacteria and viral genes are what is altered.  They were started because it was believed that genetically modified organisms would put an end to world hunger. It was thought that through GMO’s farmers could produce more food with less cost. However, the more the crops are sprayed, in the end it costs more for the farmers and leads to more damage to the environment and creates health concerns. The first GMO crop was approved in 1994 and ever since genetically modified corn, soy, sugar beets and canola have been a common item on Canadian farms. Within this blog post you will find the pros and cons to genetically modified organisms and it will give better insight to what is to come in the future.

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The use of GMO’s in modern day society is on a rise, with an increasing population and a higher demand for food production the future of this trend is one sided. At the moment the majority of GMO’s are used for food production, in particular farmers are using them to aid in harvesting crops. These farmers are buying seed from a company called Monsanto, which has genetically modified herbicides and pesticides into the seed itself. While the effects that these seeds containing GMO’s have not been tested with recent science it is hard to determine the negative effects they will have on humans and the environment. Keep in mind that these seeds are grown for the food that we eat. We don’t remember when it was alright to consume pesticides and herbicides as a replacement for milk in our morning cereal. So this begs the question of if it is okay to have them in the seed that grows into the food we are consuming.

On the one side, while using seeds containing GMO’s the success rate of crops increasing and that is good the corporation that runs the farm. But what about the organic farm down the way? One of the negative effects that these seeds are having is cross contamination; in the cycle of life pollen transfers nutrients to other plants in the area and the once all organic farm has now been contaminated with pollen from the GMO farm. The essential bloodline for a farm to be successful is an abundance of fresh water and we are drinking the same water that these farms are using. With more and more diseases and health issues seen today it is hard to tell if GMO’s could be a likely cause, and until proper scientific test are conducted it will remain unknown.  The question of profit over health is always the number one question and the massive super farms that feed the world’s food production have one goal and that is to produce the maximum amount of food as efficiently as possible.

With an increasing world population massively in 3rd world countries, where the total amount of people are dying from starvation is growing by the second, a lot of people will be able to benefit from this promising use of technology not only farmers, but societies worldwide. Some possibilities to use GM foods for good are: creating plants weeds, resistant to weeds, pest and other diseases; such as corn. Creating sustainability through GMO’s, GMO’s have helped farmers reduce their environmental footprint by letting them to use less inputs and enabling a shift to reduced tillage. Less usage of farm faculties such as tractor, which means less fuel used and fewer emissions. And the outcome shows that, GMO’s have sustained and cut the CO2 emissions equivalent to downsizing 12.4 million cars from the road for a year. And also used 1.2 billions pounds less pesticides being used between 1996 and 2013. GM crops is one clean way of technology that can help assure and increase yields so that farmers can produce enough food to feed a huge population, and do so in a way that has as little impact as possible on natural resource.

In conclusion, both negative and positive perspectives show valid points to think about. What side are you choosing?

 

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There’s something in the water.

Energy, to paraphrase the Merriam Webster dictionary’s definition, most relevant to us, energy is “usable power”. With technology becoming so engrained in the way we live our lives, this power is more a part of our lives now, than ever. But these things don’t just work on the­­­ir own, laptops don’t magically catch a charge every time you want to boot it up and read a blog. This energy has to come from somewhere and it comes at a cost. In the Balance simulator, there were five energy resources showcased; Oil, coal, nuclear, solar and wind. Each having varying effects on the balance between ­people, planet and profit.

According to a study in 2008 by The National Academy of Sciences, 84% of energy used in the United States is generated by fossil fuels. There are a few reasons as to why fossil fuels dominate the energy sector. The first reason being that they are cheap, coal being one of the cheapest of the options, on average costing $110/MWh compared to the next lowest in nuclear at $113/MWh (see levelized cost of energy). Another reason being that the technologies around these resources have been well developed as they have been harvested by society since the 1800’s, giving us plenty of time to maximize the process. Which then bring us to the third reason which is very much a result of the former reliability. Due to the gross abundance of fossil fuels (i.e. in 2008 1.7B tons of coal was mined with an estimated 270B tons still to be mined ), in conjunction with the developed processes of harnessing them, they have become a steady source of energy, as we are able to generate more power from them as necessary.

There are also many downsides to the use fossil fuels, environmentally and economically. One of the biggest disadvantages of using fossil fuels is the impact on the environment. Fossil fuels have been noted as major contributors to global warming, production of fossil fuels expels heat-trapping gases which have made a large impact on the rise in atmospheric temperature. Also fossil fuels are non-renewable; there is a limited amount of fossil fuels available for consumption, though many can be naturally restored as they are a result of natural processes, it takes millions of years for them to develop. There are also many ways accidents can result from the use of fossil fuels, such as oil spills, acid rain, etc. Economically fossil fuels remain cheap due to government subsides, $4.22B in direct subsides were recieved by coal, natural gas and petroleum, while solar power had recieved $1.13.

Tidal-energy

The most used source of renewable energy was not available in the simulator, this being hydroelectricity. Hydro is electricity produced by the power of running water. Usually harnessed through a dam system in which the water is lead through a penstock leading to a turbine attached to a generator which converts the power to electricity. There is a much less utilized method of producing hydroelectricity, this method being tidal power. Tidal power is produced through large underwater turbines placed in areas of high tidal movement capturing the kinetic movement of the ebbing and surging flow of the ocean tide. Though there is currently only one major tidal power plant operating off the northern coast of France. A study by The Electrical Power Research Institute found that strategically placed turbines could make tidal power offered at competitive rates to alternatives such as natural gas. Although it is not reliable enough to produce all energy for use in America, if pursued it could help relieve the impact of some communities aiding in lessening our reliance on non-renewable resources and contributing to a lessened environmental impact.