Genetically Modified Foods refer to plants and food items that are created for animal and human consumption thru techniques of molecular biology. The plants are modified and generated in laboratories to make sure desired traits, for example, herbicide resistance and superior ranges of nutritional content. The genes of GMO merchandise have been altered in such a way that they do not occur naturally via natural combination or mating.
GMO ingredients are produced and marketed to cater for some specified advantages both to the consumer or producer of the foods. The primary aim is to produce crops and animals that are of lower charge and greater value in phrases of nutritional value and durability. According to Skancke (2009), genetically Modified Organisms are incorporated in plant development to improve plant protection and increase resistance against diseases that are caused by viruses and insects.
There are various issues that arise due to development of Genetically Modified Foods. First, critics of GMO argue that consumption of such foods is unsafe for human animal health. Additionally, they refute use and production of such foods and plants on the basis of environmental concerns (Gerdes, 2004). Foods that contain Genetically Modified Microorganisms have been known to cause life threatening conditions and allergens to human bodies. Second, genetically modified plants are thought to cause damage to the environment through release of harmful chemicals and depletion of soil organisms that are vital for soil fertility as well as influencing the micro-environment of other micro-organisms. According to Gerdes (2004) the cultivation and use of GM seed in crop plantation could be harmful to the environment. Finally, there are concerns over the future dependent of farmers on huge corporations that own patent rights thus increasing the gap between the rich and the poor.
There are two opposing viewpoints of GMOs that mainly touch on the advantages and disadvantages of their production and uses. Those in support of the concept of production and sustenance argue that GMOs have various useful elements that can help in solving of worlds malnutrition and hunger issues in addition to protecting and preserving the environment through yields increase and reduction in reliance on chemical herbicides and pesticides (Qaim & Zilberman, 2003). However there are many concerns over that arise in the areas of health testing, safety regulations, international policies, and labeling of the foods. Most people feel that genetic engineering technology is inevitable in the future and it could provide many benefits to the human race, however, it is prudent to proceed with caution to prevent causing harm to the environment and human health.
Those who support the use of genetically modified foods argue that the foods can sustain mankind under various environmental conditions, such as drought, cold temperatures, and salinity (Frewer, Lassen, Kettlitz, Scholderer, Beekman, & Berdal, 2004). Thus, food can be grown in areas where it could not be grown before leading to alleviation of hunger. In addition, the foods are also altered to utilize less fertilizers and herbicides, thus reducing the issues that arise from farming.
In addition, supporters argue that GMOs make crops more nutritious and tastier. For example, the modified golden grain, some form of strain on rice that is enriched with beta carotene, is known to prevent blindness (Frewer et al., 2004). This strain of rice that contains iron vitamins, and minerals, can be used to enhance diet for the poor countries. Animal species that are genetically modified can grow to be hardier, healthier, and have an increased rate of milk, meat, and egg production.
Nevertheless, the fact that most of these developments have not been well established and accepted into society presents critics of the processes with support for their concerns on the long term effects on health of humans, animals, and the environment. This is despite the many years that GM foods have been used in animal and human consumption. Critics claim that there has not been sufficient research and testing on the safety of the products. In a study conducted and published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences revealed that there were adverse effects on rats kidneys and livers, particularly male ones, after they consumed GM corn (Kuiper, Kleter, Noteborn, & Kok, 2001). Since then, other studies conducted indicated that there were other adverse effects including infertility in rats. Campaigners fight that more research be one before the GM products are put on shelves for sale and consumption especially since there are concerns over the negativity of toxins in the human body that have been known to cause allergies and bodies resistance to antibiotics.
There are also environmental concerns over the impact of GM foods and plants. Modified genes are transported through cross pollination to other plants, especially weeds, causing them to be tenacious and resistant to weed killers, therefore extra amounts have to be applied for results (Kuiper et al., 2001). There exist ethical concerns over the interference on nature in the development of GM products. The mixing of genes acquired from different species of plants and animals has been said to violate animal rights and the experiments deemed as unethical. Finally, the use and application of GM products is known to cause harm to unintended organisms like the monarch caterpillars which consume milkweed plants. The species could die if they consumed the pollen blown by winds from the GM corn to the milkweed plants.
Conclusively, I oppose the modifications and consumption of genetically modified products. Genetically modified foods as research shows can be used to alleviate poverty and increase food production especially in poor countries. However, there is the pending issue of monopolization by big companies who could protect their crops through patents. This could prevent transfer of seeds and products to the farmers. Thus the resultant effect would be in adequate access to food and distribution across the world. Additionally, engineering some traits and genes in animals and plants can translate into imbalance in natural settings and dire consequences may result since most of the processes are irreversible (Frewer, Miles & Marsh, 2002). Looking further into the sale of GMOs, the consumer choice is put at risk due to lack of proper labeling and are rarely separated from other conventional products. Due to this, consumers do not have much choice in what they consume and even where the laws require proper labeling there is still the risk of cross-pollination.
There are also the health risks that exist from the development of genetic foods. Since the processes are unpredictable, the products may result to harmful effects on both animals and humans. Besides the issue of allergies, the introduction of the foreign genes into the human body can cause unpredictable reactions. Finally, GMOs and especially plants do not recognize areas that are buffer and containment fields. Thus the existence of organic products is just a matter of time and they will be overtaken by non-organic foods products, thus limiting consumer choices further.
Bruno-Bárcena, J. M., Azcarate-Peril, M. A., & Si~ neriz, F. (2001). Problems with genetically modified foods. Food Microbiology Protocols, 481-484.
Frewer, L. J., Miles, S., & Marsh, R. (2002). The media and genetically modified foods: evidence in support of social amplification of risk. Risk analysis, 22(4), 701-711.
Frewer, L., Lassen, J., Kettlitz, B., Scholderer, J., Beekman, V., & Berdal, K. G. (2004). Societal aspects of genetically modified foods. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 42(7), 1181-1193.
Gerdes, L. I. (2004). Genetic engineering: Opposing viewpoints. Farmington Hills: Greenhaven Press [u.a..
Kuiper, H. A., Kleter, G. A., Noteborn, H. P., & Kok, E. J. (2001). Assessment of the food safety issues related to genetically modified foods. The plant journal, 27(6), 503-528.
Qaim, M., & Zilberman, D. (2003). Yield effects of genetically modified crops in developing countries. Science, 299(5608), 900-902.
Skancke, J. (2009). Genetically modified food. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.