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Genetically Modified Food

Essay by review  •  November 22, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  2,186 Words (9 Pages)  •  856 Views

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Genetically Modified Food

Genetically modified foods are the plants that are modified in the laboratory through procedures of improving their nutritious picture and developing the new and improved species of food that people will later consume. People have been doing this for ages by natural ways of plant selection and natural matching of different kinds of plants, for example creating new kind of wine grapes by matching two kinds to get a new one. This was all done in a natural way and by natural processes of growth and adjustment of plants. But today technology has gone further and we have started modifying our food in the laboratory by matching plant genes with animal genes, growth hormones, vitamins and other plants. Newly modified food is resistant to all kinds of natural processes (floods, insects), it is "more nutritious" and we can produce it, regardless of the kind of soil because of its modifications that benefit the growth and development of the plants. All those things people and companies are doing to improve their production and automatically to increase their profits. Should we care about this or not? In my opinion we should.

For example, plant geneticists can isolate a gene responsible for drought tolerance and insert that gene into a different plant. One other example is B.T. corn which produces proteins that rejects insects that attack the plant. In that way the plant produces its own pesticide protection against insects. These kinds of food are already on the market, some countries have restrictions on the import of these items, but other countries like U.S. are putting a lot of pressure on the countries that still resist from consuming them and it is becoming harder to avoid such foods. The question raising is how people can benefit from these foods and the greatest good we can achieve through this technology that will benefit us the most and what procedures should we perform in order to achieve the highest possible benefit from it.

Since the technology is still not researched enough and still a lot of countries are implementing the GMFs in their stores without even realizing the possible risks involved with this type of foods. "Environmental activists, religious organizations, public interest groups, professional associations and other scientists and government officials have all raised concerns about GM foods, and criticized agribusiness for pursuing profit without concern for potential hazards, and the government for failing to exercise adequate regulatory oversight. It seems that everyone has a strong opinion about GM foods."

In my opinion, since this technology is already around us, and although it might be bad for people, we should observe what is good about it and make the best of it and "produce" the greatest good for the greatest number since the technology is obviously developing. I think the biggest question is how can we benefit from this technology and avoid the problems that might occur.

One of the main advantages mentioned is the increase of the amount of food in the world which can be beneficial for third world countries where food and resources are scarce. Since the world population has reached 6 billion people and is expected to rise drastically in the next 50 years especially in Southeast Asia and Africa, one often wonders how all the food is going to be produced and nevertheless have quality and nutrition to feed all the population. "Normal way" of growing crops will not be sufficient anymore because by just using natural methods, people cannot generate enough food for everybody. The answer could lie in the GMFs and their widespread usage in the market. Nowadays it is possible to breed, plants and animals with improved nutritional and health benefits to humans. Due to higher pollution and the spread of cities and exploitation, there is less soil available for crop and plant growth and some of it is used for non efficient purposes. By using the GMFs, we can improve the world's food picture by feeding the ones that need it the most. We can use this type of foods to prevent diseases by matching food with certain vaccines and medications that will reduce the cost in health industry and the number of diseases and therefore the number of deaths from curable diseases in the world. Also with this type of food people can get more nutrition by eating only several types of foods instead of many. As Dr. Liz Dennis, Chief Research Scientist CSIRO Plant Industry in Australia says, "crops with defined health benefits will become available. Two examples of particular significance to developing countries are the recent announcement of "golden rice"--rice genetically modified to produce enhanced levels of vitamin A. These technologies offer solutions to dietary deficiencies that affect millions of people for whom rice is the staple diet."

She is also referring to modification of plant oil to increase monounsaturated oils that would lower cholesterol in the human body and benefit the overall heath. She is also mentioning the possibility of developing vaccines in plants so that people could be immunized against diseases like measles by eating some simple food which could be a major advantage for the developing countries because of the high disease rates and lower health benefits. The foods are also made resistant to certain diseases and animals and bugs that attack them which also make the use of pesticides and herbicides that make the human environment and health more improved.

Plant researchers also look for genes that will benefit the farmer, the food processor, or the consumer. It will benefit the farmer in the way that he/she will need less time and money to take care of the crops, spray them with different kinds of pesticides and herbicides that might endanger the environment and health of others. Food processing will be easier and consumers will have a wider variety of choice of food and they will choose which kind of vitamins and benefits they want to get from these types of foods. For example, scientists have inserted into corn a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thurigiensis, usually referred to as BT. This gene makes a protein lethal to certain caterpillars that destroy corn plants. This form of insect control has two advantages: It reduces the need for chemical pesticides, and the BT protein, which is present in the plant in very low concentrations, has no effect on humans.

Although the overall benefits for the society sound very convincing, there are certain dangers concerning this technology and I think the public as well as the scientists are not informed enough about them. The biotechnology companies admit there are dangers, but still not enough research has been done on the issue and there are examples

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