Genetically Modified Food

Genetically Modified Food

Abstract

This paper begins with an introduction where it describes the meaning of genetically modified food. Thesis statement: we should promote the production of genetically modified food as they contribute to beneficial effects on human health and environment. The paper addresses biotechnology as the major technology that can promote nutrition and food security worldwide through impacting positively on agricultural production. The paper also addresses the controversial issue regarding GMOs where it tackles both the benefits and the accompanying potential environmental side effects and biomedical risks.

Thesis: Genetically modified foods were created with the intention of improving the overall quality of life

Introduction

With the rapid increase of the global population, there has been an increase in the levels of food and nutrition insecurities, thus the introduction of genetically modified food to solve such problems even in future. Genetically modified food results from the application of the modern techniques in altering the genetic material (DNA) of a plant or an animal through the use of genetic engineering. Examples of genetically modified foods are soy beans and tomatoes. Genetically modified foods have however initiated a controversy concerning their environmental and health impact thus emerging as a major concern. The availability and accessibility of nutritious and safety food during all the stages of life is essential for the achievement of human health (Snell et al., 2012).

 

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Arguments Opposing the Use of Genetically Modified Crops

As much as the growth and development of the GMO’S food are linked with a couple of benefits, there are also several shortcomings associated with consumption of GMOs.  Application of biotechnology is said to improve the various foods nutritional contents. Supporters of genetically engineered crops also claim the ability of GM crops yielding a medical benefit through the injection of a specific vaccine or genes. GMOs foods are however not a central solution for medical benefits and food nutritional improvement, but instead, they only act as a temporary measure. The research in American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM has associated  GMOs with potential harms which includes unknown effects on human organ damage, immune system , food allergies , reproductive disorders and affects the overall human health, GMOs are also linked to cancer (Metcalfe, 2003).

Genetically engineered crops contribute to the destruction of the organic farming industry and the environment through the contamination of organic foods. The advocates of the GMOs claim the ability of transgenic crops to minimize environmental contamination due to their insect and herbicide resistance potential. On the other hand, they intensify the easiness of the injected resistance genes spreading in the rest of the ecological system (Séralini et al., 2012). Herbicide-tolerant crops result in the birth of super weeds resistant to the herbicide as well as super insects as they spread genes to them. The long-term effects demand the farmer’s usage of even more toxic herbicides annually, thus creating environmental harm. Mutation arising from biotechnology increases the destruction of natural restoration by altering the ecology (Huang, Rozelle, and Pray, 2005). GM seed through cross-contamination contributes to a devastating outcome on organic farming making their coexistence difficult.

Biotechnology is forcing genetically engineered crops on the whole where multi-nationals are seeking monopolies for their products. Green Revolution increased productivity causing many countries to change into mechanization of agriculture and relay on the petrochemical industry. As a result agricultural output rose, but on the other hand, agriculture got subjected to Multi-nationals rules.  Companies such as Monsanto scoped a lot of profits as soon as it developed herbicides roundup. As much as supporters of GM claim their assurance of solving the food problem, there is no connection between the countries population and the prevalence of hunger. Unequal distribution of resources food limit is the ideal reason for hunger. Increased awareness about the dangers of the GM food is necessary where GMOs should be labeled to prevent their growth as they damage the environment (Anderson, 2010).

Argument Supporting the Use of GMOs Food

Besides the association of GMOs with potential harm on health, their benefits are still overwhelming. Also, most of the health effects associated with GMOs are yet to be proven hence doesn’t add more weight to unknown effects. According to the report by National Academy of Sciences, scientists claim that the GMOs foods are safer to consume as their counterparts non-GE food as they help in minimizing pesticides usage and have no adverse effects on the environment.  Genetically Modified crops can survive in severe conditions compared to the native varieties which may take numerous generations of evolution in achieving a similar resistance level (Keikotlhaile, Spanoghe, and Steurbaut, 2010). Following the rapidly growing population, the desirable benefit is the expansion of food supply to cater for the needs of the increased population by feeding more people. The committee failed to find the evidence linking the consumption of the genetically engineered foods in the food supply with increase food allergies, effects on the GI tract, as well as risk for horizontal gene transfer. The committee does not also find evidence linking the introduction of the genetically engineered crop to the health problems such as cancer, autism obesity, and kidney disease. They also admitted the presence of significant differences in gut microbes of various animal experiments, but come in terms that there is no anticipation of GE crops resulting in health problems. The committee also argued that any food can results in allergic reaction regardless of whether it’s genetically produced or organically produced. In general new any food, be it GE or not may pose adverse health effects which can be diagnosed in the long run. The discussion from the report of is optimistic in that the increased concentration of nutrients in both the non-GE and genetically engineered crop may contribute to favorable effects on a large population.

As much as several reports address various concerns in regards to the interaction of environment with GE crops, there is no evidence of the effects of biotechnology crops on honeybees. Research has demonstrated the decline of the monarch to have been caused by the glyphosate suppression of the milkweed, but instead they disagree on whether glyphosate has any effect on the monarch. Despite having gene flow from genetically engineered crops wild relatives, there are no highlighted examples showing an adverse impact on the environment. There is also no clear evidence of the relationship between drought resistant crops and the superweed birth (Domingo and Bordonaba, 2011)

The reports advocates for the regulation of GM crops at allowed levels of acceptable risks, to promote the achievement of maximum society benefits. Though the benefits and risk tend to vary in various crops and therefore it’s the product that should be regulated but not the process. The regulatory policy on GE crops is based on social, scientific dimension while not all concerns can be answered by only science as there is need of putting the priorities and the values of stakeholders into consideration (Loureiro, 2003). Although concerned public as well strong safety argument back up the mandatory labeling there is no justification for the ability of compulsory labeling food with GE traces on safeguarding the public health. The regulation set lack proactive communication, transparency and public participation hence its soundness and credibility are questionable.

Conclusion

Genetically Modified foods are not certainly evil or erroneous. However, growth and the development of genetically modified food demands appropriate scientific-based research and studies concerning their potential impacts on both the entire ecosystem and human health to evaluate their fitness for the consumption of the general population. Genetically modified food is associated with potential dangers, and hence scientific verification is necessary before the growth of the genetically modified organisms. Most of the Biotech companies in the United States prioritize its profits first rather than public health issue thus raising a great concern that shouldn’t be taken light note. Although there are short-term benefits realized, we should as well look at the long-term view and thoroughly study the potential GMO’s effects in both the food supply and environment.

 

References

Anderson, K., 2010. Economic impacts of policies affecting crop biotechnology and trade. New Biotechnology27(5), pp.558-564.

Domingo, J.L. and Bordonaba, J.G., 2011. A literature review on the safety assessment of genetically modified plants. Environment International37(4), pp.734-742.

Huang, J., Hu, R., Rozelle, S. and Pray, C., 2005. Insect-resistant GM rice in farmers’ fields: assessing productivity and health effects in China. Science308(5722), pp.688-690.

Johnson, K.L., Raybould, A.F., Hudson, M.D. and Poppy, G.M., 2007. How does scientific risk assessment of GM crops fit within the wider risk analysis?. Trends in plant science12(1), pp.1-5.

Keikotlhaile, B.M., Spanoghe, P. and Steurbaut, W., 2010. Effects of food processing on pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables: a meta-analysis approach. Food and Chemical Toxicology48(1), pp.1-6.

Loureiro, M.L., 2003. GMO food labelling in the EU: tracing ‘the seeds of dispute’. EuroChoices2(1), pp.18-23.

Metcalfe, D.D., 2003. Introduction: what are the issues in addressing the allergenic potential of genetically modified foods?. Environmental Health Perspectives111(8), p.1110.

Séralini, G.E., Clair, E., Mesnage, R., Gress, S., Defarge, N., Malatesta, M., Hennequin, D. and De Vendômois, J.S., 2012. RETRACTED: Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize.

Snell, C., Bernheim, A., Bergé, J.B., Kuntz, M., Pascal, G., Paris, A. and Ricroch, A.E., 2012. Assessment of the health impact of GM plant diets in long-term and multigenerational animal feeding trials: a literature review. Food and Chemical toxicology50(3-4), pp.1134-1148.

 

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