Andrew Taylor

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Global Terrorism

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Assignment one: Global Terrorism

“Terror is the violent or destructive acts committed to intimidate a people or government.” Therefore, terrorism is defined as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.” Acts of terror and terrorist groups unfortunately exist in our society and claim innocent lives everyday. Although it is almost unanimously agreed upon that terrorism is something we should rid our civilization of, the task usually proves to be difficult, lengthy, and egregiously costly. Following my reading of The Trillion Dollar War by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Blimes, I have acquired a greater understanding of the effects of global terrorism and a significantly greater knowledge of how terrorism effects our entire civilization mentally, physically, and fiscally. In/through out the upcoming pages, I will reflect on the opinions and facts of the authors, as well as express my thoughts based upon the evidence at hand. (Merriam-Webster 2004, 739)
In order to effectively address global terrorism, it is important to start by acknowledging how terrorism exists today. Anyone could be a terrorist, figuratively speaking, just by their actions. In today’s day and age, it seems that we are able to argue whether a person or group is or is not a terrorist based merely on the fulfillment of an arbitrarily objective checklist of qualities. However, the basic fact is that terrorism is global and continues to be geographically omnipresent. Terrorism stays alive/endures/thrives due to constant movement and growth. “We need a global security strategy, not just an Iraq strategy. Al Qaeda – which was not present in Iraq before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein – moved into Iraq because it saw an opportunity. Even if we can rid Iraq of Al Qaeda once again, it would simply mean that Al Qaeda would move to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, or elsewhere.”  Here the authors state that simply ridding one country or area of a terrorist group does not completely delete it. The simple act of chasing terrorist groups has no substantial benefit to our society. “One of the direct opportunity costs of the surge in Iraq is our inability to stabilize Afghanistan. With 232 deaths of American and NATO troops, 2007 was the bloodiest year of the Afghanistan war, and our NATO allies are becoming increasingly disillusioned.” Based on the authors’ facts, this is compelling and irrefutable evidence that trying to fight terrorism on a single front can not only be disastrous and deadly, but futile and inadequate in respect to the original mission. Terrorist groups/regimes practice a nomadic lifestyle in order to proliferate and endure/thrive/survive. Therefore, the task of fighting terror is an increasingly difficult one. Without clear strategy, available human power, and capital, terrorism is virtually impossible to eliminate. (Stiglitz, Blimes 2008, 227, 227-228)
Terrorism affects us in a myriad of different ways—first and foremost, civilization. It has effects upon the economy of every [single] country on this planet, as well as a corresponding lasting effect on our structural design of government.
It is especially clear that after the tragedy of 09-11-2001/September 11, 2001, acts of terrorism can illicit very powerful, deep-rooted fears from/out of the hearts and minds of a nation. My goal of this paragraph is to uncover the true effects of terrorism and present facts, no matter how unfathomable or frightening they may be. In the following paragraph(s), I will break up the effects and analyze each one, specifically. In the immediate wake of 09/11, president George W. Bush and his administration quickly created a plan to punish the perpetrators of these attacks. Due to the excessive amounts of fear and vengeance the president and his administration possessed, little to no trouble was afforded/exhausted/wasted in quickly setting their sites on who to forge war with/contend with. “The decision to go to war was based on a number of false premises. One asserted a link between Saddam Hussein and the terrible attacks of 9/11 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.”  The weeks and months immediately following 9/11 were a breeze for the Bush administration to convince the justice hungry American people for support on a so called war against terror. It is apparent now that there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the U.S. attacks of 9/11. “Faulty intelligence led to claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction even though the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency said there were none”  This is a very key fact that questions the initial validity of the Bush administration to lead a misguided war. A combative undertaking where our clear enemy was in a different country, we occupied and invaded one country on a larger scale and with an expedited pace—this was a mistake.  With the approval ratings of George W. Bush being at all-time low, American resentment of the war grows louder each day. As the length of the war continues, and our original target enjoys another day of freedom, we are reminded of the severity of costs our mistake accumulates. (Stiglitz, Blimes 2008, x, x)
The misguided invasion, occupancy of Iraq and neglected situation in Afghanistan not only outrage our own citizens, but effect our global standing as well. “America’s standing in the world has never been lower. Anyone who travels abroad knows this. It is also confirmed by every poll and opinion survey.” It is then safe to say that Americans are not the only ones in strong resentment of the Iraq war. “The war has dramatically changed this picture: compared to 2002, favorable ratings of America are now lower in twenty-six of the thirty-three countries surveyed by the Pew Research Center. The situation has worsened in most Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia- and even among historically steadfast U.S. allies.”  The misguided invasion and occupancy of Iraq along with the neglected situation in Afghanistan not only outrages our own citizens, but affects our global standing, as well.
There is entirely too much significance/substantiality in the international opposition towards the present conflict. The further we continue our mistakes, the worse off we will become as a nation. “Most disturbing is that America is no longer seen as a bastion of civil rights and democracy. The Iraq war “for democracy” has almost given democracy a bad name.”  Although some may see the global opinion of the U.S. as dubious/insignificant, it has myriad effects on how we relate with other nations. The best and most appropriate way to analyze this is by looking at the economics side to this argument. It can start off rather simple, but become rather complex. Criticism of American Democracy can easily spill into criticism of American business. As a nation with one of the highest GDP’s and most successful stock markets, we are an economic leader in the world. However, our economic success is not based solely on our fundamentals, the better other nations do, the more potential our success has to increase. Therefore, when other nations have unfavorable views towards us socially, it is likely they will economically, as well. “American firms, especially those that have become icons, like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, may also suffer, not so much from explicit boycotts as much from a broader sense of dislike of all things American.”  The author’s macroeconomic thoughts are a very realistic, relevant example of a way that one country’s view of our country can stretch into different cost categories. (Stiglitz, Blimes 2008, 160, 160, 161, 129)
Our own nation’s economy is tremendously hurt by the Iraq war. Using conservative realistic figures and models the authors present, the total cost for the Iraq war sum to over a sobering three trillion dollars. “There is no free lunch- one cannot fight a war, especially a war as long and as costly as this war without paying the price.”  “The president and his advisers expected a quick, inexpensive conflict. Instead, we have a war that is costing more than anyone could have imagined. The cost of direct U.S. military operations-not even including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans-already exceeds the cost of the twelve-year war in Vietnam and is more than double the cost of the Korean war.” They have managed to underestimate and overspend for every fiscal year we have been in Iraq. Most of the figures based through out the authors’ work are moderate and based on the best-case scenario. Obviously, the quicker we can exit from Iraq, the more we will save. However, we have bills that will continue to stay with us long after the troops come home. In fact, these costs can only then rise. “Even if both wars end tomorrow, our financial obligations will not. U.S. taxpayers owe billions of dollars to veterans who have become eligible for mandatory disability compensation, plus medical care and benefits.”  The debt we have created just by doing right by our brave veterans is enormous, and will undoubtedly be passed on for generations. Yet, it is not even close to the total debt the government has created. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder could end up being the biggest medical expense the government pays for when everything starts to get paid out. P.T.S.D., which just happens to be diagnosed at historically high rates, will cost in the ballpark of 25-44 billion dollars. Along with P.T.S.D., there are many other things related to the government’s debt towards the Department Veterans Affairs. Compensation of the soldiers’ life, veterans’ medical, veterans’ disability and veterans’ social security benefits all total to upwards of “630 billion dollars.” (Stiglitz-Blimes 2008, 56, 6, 35, 57)
There are also three other costs to add up when thinking of a total running budget of the war in Iraq. First there is total operations to date, which sums the amount we have spent since the invasion, future operations, future veterans costs (broken down above), other military costs, and interest costs. This all amounts to a tremendous “2,655 billion dollars in money spent and owed.” “But these are just budgetary costs. They do not include the costs to the economy-the full economic costs of those who have been killed or injured, the cost inflicted by the soaring oil prices, the weaker future growth as a result of investment ”crowded out” by the soaring deficit.” The budgetary costs already reaching figures around three trillion, show compelling evidence that we’re already way over spent and quickly moving towards the most expensive war in U.S. history. It’s also important to keep in mind that the figures just mention from the authors book were only for Iraq! If you add the total for Iraq, and Afghanistan the sum exceeds 3,496 trillion dollars. (Stiglitz, Blimes 2008, 57, 56)
Another very meaningful, yet depressing true cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict is the seemingly endless obstacles they face when they get home. “A problem with the transition from DOD to VA is that the disability ratings process is ‘one size fits all’, the same basic procedures are followed inside the department and during the transition to the VA for all individuals. The 11% of cases that are those wounded or severely wounded in war are funneled through exactly the same system as the other 89%-the career service members transitioning to retirement.” This is not only shameful of our government, but extremely unacceptable. “The result is that veterans often need to undergo a second round of medical diagnostic tests in order to qualify for VA disability benefits and medical care.” It is clear that the need for serious revision and redesign of our post war veteran care is urgent and should be mandatory. The pain and suffering of our brave troops should not worsen or even continue at the fault of the U.S. government. The government needs to re allocate funding to better serve our brave men and women upon their return. (Stiglitz, Blimes 2008, 69, 69)
To the point of absurdity, the costs still are yet to be far from over. As the previous figures have shown how much the government has spent, owe and will owe, there are still costs that are substantially detrimental to society. These come in the form of the costs to society due to the loss of labor. Often, not only are soldiers unable to have the same productive capacity upon return, as a result neither do their families or loved ones. “We estimate that these social costs add at least $300 billion to $400 billion to the total war bill.”  The government does not pay any compensation to the care taker of a returned veteran, also the prices paid to veterans for the wages they would have earned had they returned with no disability, are not paid. “In addition, the U.S. government’s disability stipend does not compensate for the pain and suffering of the veteran and his family, or the impairment in quality of life.”  These social costs can be much more valuable than the government will ever be able to compensate for, and these social costs will only grow lager as the war goes on. (Stiglitz, Blimes 2008, 91, 93)
Another inadequate compensation from the government is the social cost when one loses their life. The government has a very low pay out to families for a soldier’s death.  The amount is insufficient when one’s value is looked at economically. “The official military pay out when one dies amounts to only $500,000. This is in the form of a $ 100,000 “death gratuity” and $400,000 in life insurance paid to the family survivors.” It is a fact that you can receive more compensation from a senseless car accident than what the military will award you. It makes sense naturally to think that the actual cost of lives lost is much greater than simply the total compensation the government pays out. “In many cases, those killed in Iraq were young men and women in peak physical condition, at the beginning of their working lives. The true economic loss from their deaths could be much higher.” Finding a way to more accurately represent the values of the lives lost the author uses a value that is used widely in most insurance company markets and in the private sector. “To take one example, if someone is killed in an environmental disaster, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the loss from that death is $7.2 million.” It is only now that we can more accurately represent the true economic and social value of the tragic loss of our brave men and women in the course of battle. “The social costs of the Iraq war’s fatalities rise to greater than $50 billion in 2007 dollars.” With original government budgets not even adequately representing a fraction of the estimated total, it is no doubt that the moral of the war is at record low, recruiting is a serious challenge, and that we will significantly feel the effects on our future economy. (Stiglitz, Blimes 2008, 93, 95, 95, 96)
The last but not least major cost of the war, and probably most affected and discussed, are the costs to our economy from a macroeconomic standpoint. As the presidential elections of 2008 come to the wire, the most important issue has become the economy. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan both have an immense effect upon it. “Today no serious economist holds the view that war is good for the economy.”  It is very important to realize that any amount of money spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan war, is money we could have spent at home. As our nation deals with enormous pressing issues such as a dire energy crisis, market meltdown, roads and infrastructure deterioration, education inefficiencies and a healthcare crisis, saying that money is tight would be a tremendous understatement! Not only would government spending on our national crises boost our economy in the long run, it would positively affect other nations as well. With the advantage of a prosperous peace time economy, a super power like the U.S. could join in with other countries to help solve world problems like poverty, starvation, genocide, Aids, water deficiencies, and various pandemics. The macroeconomic effects of this war can start when the Iraq war began. Oil prices which were a fourth of what they are now before we invaded Iraq have sky rocketed at increasing rates and will likely not go down in the future. Americans can feel the effects of rising fuel and energy costs in their bank accounts daily. It has been clear that this alone has had a severe impact on not only our stock markets, but just about every aspect of our economy. Higher fuel costs translate to people spending less on everything else. “If even half of the difference between the current price ($95-$100 a barrel) and the price before war ($25 a barrel) is attributed to the war, then the oil costs of the war today are $35 a barrel”  “more generally, attributing just half of the price increase in the post-Iraq world to Iraq over the period for which we have futures markets (2015) brings the direct costs of the oil price increase alone to somewhat in excess of $1.6 trillion.”  The only people to profit from this were of course the oil companies. Through out the war, Exxon-Mobil has seen increasing profits and returns for every year of the Iraq war. (Stiglitz-Blimes 2008, (115, 118, 118)
Government spending which was briefly touched earlier has a gigantic effect on our economy as well. It can be seen easily and more clearly as an opportunity cost. The government could ask itself what would the benefits be if we spend the same amounts on investment and solutions to national problems instead of war. “Switching just $800 billion (over the fifteen years we project we will be engaged in Iraq) to domestic investment would result in increased GDP of $320 billion.”  In every way we can analyze the cost and benefits, all options yield a better result for effects on our economy. (Stiglitz, Blimes 2008, (121)
The most important things to continually think about are the lessons we can learn from this war, and how to prevent further mistakes of this magnitude. “One of the fundamental lessons of this war is the failure of institutions such as the U.S. congress and the United Nations to provide adequate checks and balances.”  It’s clear that the presidents ability to manipulate congress and walk over the UN, point out the failures of our checks and balances. The system we currently have was designed by our founders when times were very different, and our country was not as powerful as it is today. The author outlines many great ideas on how to reform our country to where wars like the current one are harder to wage. The main ideas of the reforms are to increase public knowledge of what the government does and how it pays for it. Also, it is important to increase routine analysis of the progress of a war, and if it is getting worse, to require an explanation and plan that is transparent and easily available. Clearly we also need to reform the budget accounts for any money that becomes military related. “This set of budget accounts should be transparent and presented on both a cash and accrual basis.”  Defense Budgets should be required to be not only transparent and auditable, but required for submission to congress and a person held accountable.  Stiglitz and Blimes also encourage that “the military should be prohibited to call upon the National Guard or reserves.”  “There should be a presumption that the costs of any conflict lasting more than one year should be borne by current tax payers, through the levying of a war surtax.”  The first reforms the authors put together are great ideas on how to ensure that we as a country make wise decisions and are intelligent about the way we run our country. The authors also created a second set of nine more returns to ensure that our troops are treated not as second class citizens, but first class citizens. The First two are reforms to make sure that no soldier goes with out the health care benefits and disability compensation he or she deserves. In reform twelve: “a veteran’s benefit trust fund should be set up and locked so that the veteran’s health and disability entitlements are fully funded as obligations occur.” This is an intelligent way of making sure that the funds we need to ensure correct care of our soldiers is always there and never a problem. The next two reforms include making sure all people who take part in the conflict or war are treated equally and that a new department should be created to take care of our veterans. The concluding reforms focus on the current shameful wide gapped process of veteran claims and increasing incentive to education for military personnel.  The costs and effects of this tremendously egregious war will stay with our country for generations, but depending on the next leader of our country, we have a clear outline on how to recognize our mistakes and then learn from them. Reform and change of the current policies is a necessity, and we must make sure that the next leader of our great nation agrees. (Stiglitz, Blimes 2008. 186,190,196,197,200)

Stiglitz, Joseph E., Blimes, Linda J. 2008. The Three Trillion Dollar War. New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton and Company Inc.
Webster-Merriam. 2004. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Springfield M.A.: Merriam-Webster Inc.


Written by aktaylor

March 3, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Genetic Modification of Food

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The commonly applied term GMO, which refers to Genetically Modified Organism, is accordingly at the root of genetically modified food. Though opposing arguments are often made to the contrary, some would argue that this is detrimental to health, or even life. However, without GMO’s, adequately feeding people in large urban areas would be extremely difficult, if not near impossible. Therefore, people argue that the overall effect of genetically modified food or genetically modified organisms is overall positive, and ultimately necessary. It is my goal to cover adequately the whole term Genetic Modification of Food, its respects to economic development, effects on countries, sustainability, cost benefit analysis and future potential.
“Transgenics, or genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), are the result of transferring one or more genes, usually from a wild species or a bacterium, to a crop plant.” Just as some scientists would cross the genetics of a rose to produce a different-colored rose; other scientists do the same thing, thought with a directed emphasis on food-based agriculture. This process is practiced for the same reasons it is done for all genetic modification: a different, more unique species. As in the case of agriculture, varied, more uncommon species could arise in the form of a bell pepper that is resistant to insects, a cow that produces more milk, or a strain of rice that is more tolerant to flooding. A main goal of GMO’s is to significantly increase the productivity gains of an organism. As a natural law of economics holds true, we are all profit maximizers. Although we currently use GMO’s in agriculture in the United States, it has a whole contrasting set of importance in struggling developing countries and is a fundamental aspect of their economy. (World Bank 2007, 177)
The start of transgenics started in developing countries “1996.”. This is a direct result of the research and development of industrial revolutionized countries spreading their technology. However, like most global movements in technology, the spread is never completely automatic and simultaneous. Despite technology in industrial countries becoming more advanced due to greater funding, U.S. funding is minuscule compared to other things our government spends money on. Limited funding is an enormous problem in the absolute growth in transgenics. As a result of limited technology, other countries have less to work with. “But their use has been limited to certain crops (soybean and maize used for animal feed, and cotton), traits (insect resistance and herbicide tolerance), and countries with commercial farming (Argentina and Brazil).” With greater funding in a global sense, by The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, for instance, technology would spread more rapidly and reward benefits on a larger scale. Funding is the main pitfall for lack of technological discoveries; and therefore, a paucity of vital progressions to developing countries. (World Bank 2007, 177)
Africa has yet to significantly benefit from GMO’s due to lack of technology and unavailability of usable gains in their regionally specific crops. “Africa has benefited the least from transgenic crops, in part because locally important food crops such as sorghum and cassava have attracted little attention from commercial biotechnology firm.” The methods in which funding are allocated for transgenics can prove to be threatening to a country’s agriculture, and this is a very evidence-based correlation. In the event of higher funding, it is likely that abilities concerning small-holder crops could be studied. Therefore, advancements could be made that would provide great potential for favorable results, by way of an increase in growth for our global agriculturally slower-growing communities. “Transgenics could reduce the impact of several of Africa’s intractable problems, such as animal diseases, drought, and Striga (a devastating parasitic weed) much faster if they were integrated into breeding programs.”(World Bank 2007, 178)
In Asia, a transgenic enhancement of rice known as “Golden Rice”, a strain of rice enhanced with Bt, has increased vitamin A values. This is having tremendously positive effects which are consistently growing. Seeing how rice is the world’s number one crop, the earth’s populations will have garnered an unprecedented gain! The Bt strain not only comes equipped with increased vitamin A, it is also more sustainable and comes with higher yields. ” Advanced field testing of Bt rice shows higher yields and an 80 percent reduction in pesticide use.” It is obvious that if we can research other crops and agricultural science to a greater scope, with respect to relevance, disease and scarcity, the benefits and possibilities could be so great that stating that it is worth its cost would be a gross understatement! “The estimated health benefits of Golden Rice are large, because rice is the staple of many of the world’s poor who suffer from vitamin A deficiency. In India alone 0.2-1.4 million life-years could be saved annually through widespread consumption of Golden Rice; this would be more cost-effective than current supplementary programs for vitamin A.”(World Bank 2007, 177)
The interest in transgenics can be seen by the adoptions of its methods and the numbers and statistics concerning them. “The only transgenic widely adopted by smallholders has been Bt cotton for insect resistance.” Asian countries have adopted this strain of crop technology by the millions. Profitability and low-cost are two crucial essentials of success for transgenics. Both were apparent in the Bt cotton strain and had direct impacts. (World Bank 2007, 177)
Transgenics has been a staple for nearly a century in American and European industrialized countries. Its spread would eventually reach developing countries decades later. “Actually this process began back in the 1920s when radiation was viewed as benign, if not beneficial, prior to the dreaded radioactivity of the atomic bomb.” American and European countries definitely conduct more research than developing countries. Nonetheless, this extensive task is met face to face with opposition and self-destructing conflicts as well. Resentment and opposing opinions of public interest groups, lobbyists, private firms, and NGOs provide arguments that often stall or slow down the mutant sized growth of transgenics. “In terms of all the arguments used against food irradiation or genetically modified food, mutation breeding should be even more vigorously opposed except for the fact that it has been done for so long, has been so beneficial and without the slightest evidence of any harm whatsoever.” Still, arguments are made that certain methods of transgenics produce side effects or negative effects on the crop/food and the people/animals consuming them. (DeGregori 2003, 126-127)
In addition to genetically modified crops, the correspondingly modified organisms such as animals and fish have improved productivity and sustainability. Advances in animal and fish genetics have provided substantial benefits as well. Through the use of artificial insemination and genetically specific fish, farming output yields have been higher and the health of the animals has strengthened. In America, it seems as though our motto is “bigger is better” and “go big or go home.” These notions can be easily proven when you drive–it seems that every new car is a larger version of its previous model. Nationally, we pride ourselves on the enormity of our cities, inundated by tall buildings and three-story-plus houses. It is blatantly evident that we have an obsession with the abundance of size. The advancements made to livestock and aquatic life have a pin-point impact on their size. “Over 1980-2005 in the developing world, the annual off-take from a flock of chickens with a total live weight of 1,000 kilograms increased from 1,290 kilograms and that of pigs improved from 140 kilograms to 330 kilograms live weight.” Proportionately, larger livestock means more to sell at the market and a greater supply for feeding purposes. “Similarly for fish, genetically improved tilapia is shaping aquaculture into one of the fastest growing sectors in Asian agriculture. In 2003, improved strains from a single project-for the genetic improvement of farmed tilapia (GIFT)-accounted for 68 percent of the total tilapia seeds produced in the Philippines, 46 percent in Thailand, and 17 percent in Vietnam.” Despite irrefutable results, genetic improvements of fish and livestock have only reached some developing countries. This is partially due to methods of transferring the tools, processes of genetic modification and the lack of research and funding. “Even so, genetic improvements in animals and fish have reached only a small share of developing-country farmers, partly because of constraints in the delivery systems for these technologies. Livestock breeding services in much of the developing world are still generally subsidized, crowding out the private sector.” A solution to policy creation/reform as well as feeble funding for research and development are the only way to fully develop and explore the potential for transgenics. Following these solutions, it is imperative to spread technology to other developing countries, and in a broader aspect, a greater significant movement as a whole. (World Bank 2007, 162)
The benefit of Genetically Modified Organisms has been stated above, continuously. Alas, it is important to stress one indubitable justification for transgenics–its efforts towards fighting world hunger. We are sadly reminded daily of the fact that in less fortunate, developing countries, poverty and famine are life-threatening problems for entire societies. This one indisputable reason alone is why we should look into this sort of technology and continue to do so for years to come. “Though transgenics have been taken up more rapidly in commercial farming, they have considerable potential for improving the productivity of smallholder farming systems and providing more nutritious foods to poor consumers in developing countries.”(World Bank 2007, 177)
With every benefit there is cost. Although all the costs of Genetically Modified Organisms have not be completely proven yet, there are some very foreseeable and respectable criticisms–controversial or not. One argument states that if we genetically alter or clone everything, the quality of uniqueness if compromised. “In recent decades, the world has largely avoided major disasters from genetic uniformity, in part because of frequent turnover of varieties, which brings new sources of resistance.” Other negative aspects or potential hazards to the transgenics movement include the transportation risks/spread of disease and overpopulation of livestock near urban areas, which would result in climate issues that are irreversible and egregious waste problems. When transporting animals or fish from one country to another, this undertaking can cause harm by exposing a country to a disease it may not have experienced before. “The movement of live animals and aquatic products makes the accidental spread of disease more likely.” Also, a issue that has made headlines in the news recently and continues to foster attention is that of livestock proximity to urban areas and its bodily gas causing a rise in green house gasses. “But intensive production methods and the growing concentrations of animals near urban and periurban areas of developing countries can increase waste pollution and the incidence of diseases such as tuberculosis and avian flu.” As mentioned earlier, although the full extent of transgenics effects may not be known entirely, it seems that the benefits outweigh the costs. Thus, transgenics endures as a promising future frontier, in spite of steadfast opposition. (World Bank 2007, 60)
As useful as this Technology may become, especially under the rubric of a potential to save lives, transgenics has grown very slowly and has yet to ostensibly accelerate. This tepid proliferation has been attributed to five main culprits. “Neglect of pro-poor traits and orphan crops” is a substantial pitfall in the progress of transgenics. “Investments in research and development on transgenics are concentrated largely in the private sector, driven by commercial interests in industrial countries.” This presents a strain in the public sector to also invest in transgenics, which it hasn’t advocated, thus far. Commercial research has been conducted for crops with profits and, ultimately, a viable market in mind. The poor based countries and farmers get the short end of the deal here. This is a situation where a continent like Africa gets less benefit, if any at all. “Because the private sector cannot appropriate benefits of research and development on smallholder food crops, this research must be led by the public sector. Yet the public sector has underinvested in research and development generally and biotechnology specifically.”(World Bank 2007, 178)
“Risks.” The uncertainties and continuing concerns of genetically modified food/organisms have existed and are still created despite actual evidence that, to this current day, it can be safe to take to market. “At the same time, the shift of the U.S. food supply from small, local farms to huge, global agribusinesses has opened new niches for pathogens, as well as the potential for more systematic disease prevention.” The risks are always a slowdown for increased research and development funding in genetically modified organisms. Global-opinion regarding transgenics has the power to be just as influential to its progression as actual funding and research. “Public perception of risks can be as important as the objective risk assessment based on scientific evidence in ensuring acceptance of the technologies.” (World Bank 2007, 178) (Ward, Warren 2007, 18)
“Weak regulatory capacity.” The weakness of an inferior governing body or official group overseeing and regulating product marketing or research is one of the biggest bottlenecks of transgenics all together. The “low capacity” or “weakness” that a regulatory body has instills doubt in people and leaves them more susceptible to fear of transgenics and new products. As discussed earlier in the chapter on costs of transgenics, the disbelief of the benefits or good that transgenics produce will almost always be fueled by opposing commercial business groups or various forms of NGO/special interest groups. “In a very balanced report, the potential benefits for poor countries of genetically modified crops, the critics were unfazed and responded by vilifying this fine report. Since many of the mutated crops are already being grown in developing countries, mutation breeding cannot be so vilified, nor can the arguments be made that it has done nothing for the poor.” (World Bank 2007, 178)
“Limited access to proprietary technologies.” The process of research in regard to transgenics is not a quick one by any means. Since most of transgenics are controlled commercially, the work that must be done to conduct research and development can be lengthy and hasten the output of the conducted work, overall. “With an increasing share of genetic tools and technologies covered by intellectual property protection and largely controlled by a small group of multinational companies, the transaction cost of obtaining material transfer agreements and licenses can slow public research on and release of transgenics.” (World Bank 2007, 178)
“Complexity of trade transgenics.” The convolutions of trade when it comes to importing and exporting transgenics and its supply methods in other countries lead people to worry on two fronts: (1)An economic aspect of loss of foreign markets due to no differentiation between imported product and exported product. (2) Extinction of the non-genetically modified brand and the fear of negative health effects of the transportation of transgenic foods. The problem persists through out the system of transgenics and is also a problem in trade. With the lagging growth and scarcely-conducted research, trade methods have yet to be mastered and still have room for error. These potential errors of spoilage or damage that can directly cause health risks/effects still continue to hinder transgenic progress. “The 1950s and 1960s showed genetic improvement technologies such as crop and animal breeds were often location specific and generally did not travel well from temperate north to the tropical south.” “They have to consider the costs of segregating the storage and shipments of transgenics from conventional varieties and obtaining clearance for transgenics for consumption in the importing country.” The clearance of transgenics in the buying arena is crucial because the effects of flooding the market with only imports could bankrupt local farmers who have not yet caught up to speed, or who simply lose competitiveness. (World Bank 2007, 159)
Whether one believes transgenics are a boon to technology or an impediment to our global agricultural market, the resulting benefits to date are proof-positive that transgenics provide higher output productivity, greater sustainability, and better nutrition to poor cultures and smallholder farmers who greatly benefit from these gains. We have also learned of the possibilities of increases in nutrition and the potential to save millions of lives in numerous countries just by transgenic crop enhancement. With the current global situation we are faced with, a brighter future will require an increase in government subsidized investment in the research and development of transgenics. It is also necessary to find a median point to regulate, and from there, determine scientific facts based upon objective data, not the subjective. Many factors hold paramount relevance to the viable future of transgenics(GMO’s)–an unwavering transparency of protocol at all times and individual-confidence inspired by present-day, as well as long-term, knowledge of the costs and benefits affecting the public. Further, to ensure lasting success, these measures must be carried out on the national level as trade is overseen by a higher regulatory staff that will implement technology-advancing administration.

The World Bank. 2007. world development report 2008. Agriculture for Development. Washington, D.C.: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank.
DeGregori, Thomas R. 2003. The Environment, Our Natural Resources, and Modern Technology. Malden, MA. Blackwell Publishing Inc.
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Written by aktaylor

March 3, 2009 at 9:20 pm