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Genetically Modified Foods

Essay by review  •  November 23, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  1,618 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,023 Views

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Genetically modifying foods is an imprecise experiment with widespread repercussions that is harmful to practically everyone involved and should be stopped. This relatively modern technology gives scientists the ability to change and swap the DNA make-up of any species. While this may seem like a breakthrough, it causes many problems for people who eat the modified food, for the plants that are changed, for the farmers who typically grow the original plants, and also for the environment. Another reason we should stop altering food is that no long-term tests have been done to see what side affects could occur, and in tests that have shown negative results these results are disregarded by the U.S. government. Big corporations are too busy making money to care if this will change our world as we know it forever. Unknown effects of these foods, the apparent negative influences they are having on our environment and us, and how big corporations are hiding the facts are all incentive to stop eating and producing genetically engineered foods.

The crisis with modifying food is that no one knows the consequences, and the important people who could find out choose to ignore it. Companies such as StarLink are too busy trying to make money off these plants to think that changing their DNA could cause cancer, or drive wildlife away. It is imperative that something is done because if scientists continue to create genetically "super" plants, then pollution will skyrocket, certain plants and animals could become extinct, and these "super" plants will contaminate all non-genetically modified plants. The only way to stop this from happening is to inform people and then to get the large corporations to admit this is unnecessary and extremely detrimental. The root of this problem lies with the big companies who want money and don't care about the method, and scientists who have not recognized that genetically engineered foods cause much much more trouble than they are worth.

The long term effects of genetic altering are unknown, however the effects that have been found all show that it causes health problems for humans and animals and it causes irreversible harm to the environment. For example, if a plant is genetically engineered to be resistant to insects, then the insects will be forced to move elsewhere to find food. Then the animals that eat the insects will move also, and a cycle of species loss will occur. (Friend, p. 1) When plants are altered to be resistant to herbicides they easily spread this to plants in the surrounding area through wind and natural conditions. Then these original plants, renamed "super-weeds", are less susceptible to herbicides, forcing farmers to use triple or even more chemicals to control them. Some effects on the environment due to genetic modification are increased water and food supply contamination, damaged soil fertility, new pests, pathogens and weeds, and the possibility of diseases spreading across species lines, all disturbing the balance of the ecosystem. (2001 Smith) In an experiment involving rats and genetically modified corn, the rats ate only the corn for 90 days and showed "numerous, apparently abnormal indications," that prevented the corn from being safe for humans. (Press) Another experiment with rats and genetically engineered potatoes showed the rats suffered weakened immune systems, stunted growth, and damage to vital organs. (1999 Dyer) The same corn that was deemed unsafe is used in about 80% of foods that contain corn in the U.S. today. There have been no correlated findings in humans yet, however it is tricky to tell because the changes may be gradual and may be happening to everybody. Some expected human side effects are developing allergies, high toxicity levels, resistance to anti-biotics, immune suppression, and cancer. Tryptophan, a genetically modified bacteria strain which is found in food, had disastrous results when released. 37 people were killed, and 1,500 were permanently damaged. Now Tryptophan is banned, but who knows how many other supposedly Ð''safe' foods will have this effect?

Genetic engineering is the process of artificially modifying gene blueprints by transferring DNA genes specific to one organism into another. (Genetically..Risk) This is not an exact process; it is actually quite random and can damage normal genes. When a scientist inserts genes into a new species he does not know precisely where this gene will go once inside. It could mess up the DNA structure, thereby changing the entire organism. Living organisms are extremely complex and this makes it impossible for scientists to predict all the effects of the modified gene. The gene may act differently in the new host, the presence of the gene may disrupt the host's intelligence, and one cannot foresee what will happen. One way a gene is inserted is through a virus. This creates a new plant, but it also could create a new virus or a dangerous disease. There is no way to tell whether the new plant is harmful or not. The tests done on these plants require minimal safety testing for some, and no testing for others. There is no evaluation of long-term side effects. A recent study of milk in supermarkets found that 80% of milk contained traces of illegal anti-biotics, medicines or genetically engineered hormones. This is revolting. In the big experiment humans are the guinea pigs, and they have no idea what they are signing up for by simply shopping at the local grocery store. (Genetically..Risk)

The lack of proper testing in the U.S. is brought about by biotech corporations, who influence the government to turn a blind eye. Genetic engineering benefits the biotech industry at the expense of the general population's health and safety. Then the companies Ð''donate' to the EPA or the government and their requests are met. An example goes back to the first rat experiment involving Monsanto corn. The majority of Americans eat this corn everyday, even since the experiment. The government has done nothing to halt the distribution despite the warning that this product is not safe for humans. Monsanto was fined, but that was all.

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