- May 20, 2020
Genetically Modified Foods
GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS 6
Geneticallymodified foods (GMF) are organisms created through geneticmanipulation to achieve certain desired characteristics. Differentconditions such as increased hunger, drought, crop failure anddesertification have necessitated use of these foods (Hu & Xie,2015). Also, the technological advancement and expansion of geneknowledge and modern technology over the past few decades havefacilitated different practices involving their creation through genemanipulation. Consequently, governments in developing nations havemanaged to feed their populations while farmers even in barren landshave increased their harvest. Simplyput, GMO has helped reduce hunger, crop failures, and diseasevulnerability.
Scientistshave successfully replaced the weak genes from crop and animalspecies and replaced them with stronger ones through genetictechniques (Freedman, 2013). As results, the crops have becomeresistance to not only drought and diseases but also insectinvasions. For instance, the gene for toxin production in plantshelps keep off insects and fungi. However, upon the weakening orfailure of this gene, plants become vulnerable. Besides, insects havedeveloped resistance against the agrochemicals used to protect plants(Hu & Xie, 2015). Some genetically engineered crops are developedto produce toxins making then not vulnerable to diseases. Similarly,plants are engineered to withstand drought and more importantly,achieve the highest volume of production.
Also,scientists have manipulated some genes for high animal and cropproducts within a short of time. Consequently, there are corn plantsthat are planted and harvested within a period of three months. Inchicken, some genetic modification has enabled them to lay eggs fewweeks after they are hatched. In this case, the farmers will achievethe highest production within a short period. Such short span cropshave helped the semi-arid and desert areas that receive short rain toplant and harvest their crops without failure. In animals, thistechnology has helped achieve the desired breeds of animals throughcloning, crossbreeding and other techniques (Q&A: GeneticallyModified Food,” 2016). For instance, cow’s genes are manipulatedto increase milk, become disease resistant, and achieve the highestmeat production in bulls.
Despitethe benefits the genetic modification offers to the people indifferent industrial sectors, the latest trend in this field has beena great controversy based on the ethical views and risks these foodsposes to the people (Freedman, 2013). The ethical concern involvesquestioning the way man intends to play God by creating organisms, asdemonstrated by Christian organizations in criticizing the cloning ofanimals and other genetic practices. However, such criticism has beenfaced with a question on whether morality lies in the actions ofsaving the starving populations in poor parts of Africa and Asiathrough genetic engineering or leaving them to die. Nonetheless, thecriticism does not end with the questions of morality and ethics, forthere are so much to worry about the safety of GMO.
GMOcontain toxins that are intentionally put to enable them fightinsects. The commonly used toxin is from bacterium Bacillusthuringiensis(Bt) which shares the major trait with Bacillusanthracispopularly known for causing anthrax to humans and animals (Latham, &Wilson, 2013). Also, Bt has similarities of effects to Ricin, apoisonous compound whose effects was demonstrated in the 1978assassination of Georgi Markov. In this case, these foods containpotentially dangerous chemicals that can have adverse effects topeople in events of their destabilization or spoilage. Otherchemicals involved in the practice include the viral proteinCauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV) and Glufosinate, both of which hasbeen proven dangerous in other forms to both animals and humans.
Theother risk concerning these foods arises from the procedures. Forinstance, some of the procedures conducted in the making of GMO arenot fully understood. For instance, European Food Safety Authority(EFSA) in one of their assessment of GMO discovered that two of thepromoters, the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) and figwort mosaicvirus (FMV) were wrongly assumed that they did not encode any proteinin the procedure (Latham, & Wilson, 2013). Their findings were onthe contrary and they established that these two promoters encodedmultifunctional viral proteins that can significant impact the safetyof the food and the consumers. The discovery indicated that theconsumers were eating untested protein in this food for aconsiderably long time.
Suchtoxins and relevant facts being overlooked by scientist could be thereason these foods are associated with cancer, diabetes, heartdisease and infertility (Swanson, 2013). For instance, glyphosateresidues in plants can bio-accumulate above the food chain causinginflammation damages to the human’s cellular systems (Hu & Xie,2015). Worse, the genetic interferences with some species can resultin the emergence of mutation conditions that would be destructive toanimal and plants.
Dueto the raised health and mutation concerns, World Health Organizationrecommends strict and continuous risk assessment to determine thesafety of these foods before they are distributed to consumers andfarmers (Q&A: genetically modified food,” 2016). The assessmentfocus on the toxicity, allergens, gene stability, special components,unintended effect, and nutritional impacts related to geneticmodification (Freedman, 2013). Also, the effects to the receivingenvironment are considered.
Inbrief, genetically modified foods have helped many countries avoidhunger and other effects of drought and diseases. However, their usehas come with health and genetic risks that lead to the controversyof genetic engineering. Nonetheless, with a critical assessment ofthese foods and determination of no or fewer risks, these foods canbe used to feed people and increase agricultural production. Inaddition to assessment, strict government control of these foods iscritical to ensure all bad variety is not exposed to people. In themeantime, the researchers and genetic engineers should seek more safeprocedures with no negative impacts to both the consumers and thereceiving environment.
Freedman,D. H. (2013). are engineered foods evil? ScientificAmerican,309(3), 80-85.
Hu,X., & Xie, X. (2015). Effects of Knowledge on Attitude Formationand Change Toward . RiskAnalysis: An International Journal,35(5), 790-810. doi:10.1111/risa.12319
Latham,J. & Wilson, A. (2013). RegulatorsDiscover a Hidden Viral Gene in Commercial GMO Crops.Independentsciencenews.org.Retrieved 21 November 2016, fromhttps://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/regulators-discover-a-hidden-viral-gene-in-commercial-gmo-crops/
Q&A:genetically modified food.(2016). WorldHealth Organization.Retrieved 21 November 2016, fromhttp://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically-modified-food/en/
Swanson,N. (2013). GMOsand Multiple Chronic Diseases | Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.Farmandranchfreedom.org.Retrieved 21 November 2016, fromhttp://farmandranchfreedom.org/gmo-multiple-chronic-disease/