Genetically Altered Food

Genetic modification of organisms in general is a biotechnological process that forces genes to behave according to certain characteristics. Changing characteristics of organisms is based on changing their DNA (tech deoxyribonucleic acid; the acid which carries genetic information in a cell). It is being used for modifying genes in plants, animals or micro-organisms. It is being also used especially with food in order to improve the nutritious quality, make less use of chemicals such as pesticides, which proved to be extremely harmful, and sometimes to add flavour. Genetically modified food (GMF) is considered one of the modern production improvements and the largest food experiments in the worlds history. However, it is very vital to dispel misconception about the nature of food. GMF is a mixed blessing which has a lot of benefits but at the same time may arouse problems. It has many good aspects, such as making plants ripen faster, improving the species taste and look, and providing Third World countries with healthier and cheaper food.

Genetic modification of food has won the admiration of a lot of people, including myself, because of its new and attractive accomplishments, but at the same time we should take into consideration its disadvantages and try to find ways to avoid them. Genetically modified foodstuffs have several disadvantages which I believe are possibly avoidable through research and experiments. Most of the time, the sale of GMFs is being permitted without posing the risks and without informing the public with the possible danger. This of course is a violation of human rights which can Nagi2 easily be avoided by simply informing consumers of the characteristics of the product. When genetic engineers insert new genes into any organism, it can lead to disruption and unpredictable changes in the pattern and structure of the new genetic function. “In fact, the process of inserting genes is quite random and can damage normal genes ” (Genetic Engineered Food – A Serious Health Risk 3). Therefore, harmful substances may appear unexpectedly and can possibly create viruses and new dangerous diseases. Therefore, it is the obligation of experts to examine GM products before making them available to the public in order to avoid undesirable diseases. A common example is, when some people who are allergic to certain kinds of food such as fish eat genetically modified products such as tomatoes which were injected with genes similar to these fish, they get easily affected by allergens.

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Also, GMFs might contain toxins, which may negatively affect human beings. An experiment run on rats by feeding them with GM potatoes affected their digestive tracks caused changes in some of their organ weights and caused adverse effects on their immune system(south pacific consumer protection programme1). Such experiments show the importance of thoroughly examining GM products and making sure of their safety on humans. In addition to that, there are long-term effects with reasons not yet identified. That could also be avoided by further research and continued experiments. GMF is now entering the market with an increasing rate. Products include tomatoes, corn, potatoes and soybeans. A main problem is that the issue of labelling these products is not yet widely used. Most developed countries have adopted laws Nagi 3 that require product labelling of ingredients, fats, vitamin, protein and carbohydrate. These nutrition information provides consumers with a level of awareness and choice. Similarly, GMF producers are obliged to label their products. They have to provide their customers with all necessary information about the produce.

This is the least that could be done to preserve the rights of consumers to know and decide for themselves. Labelling is then one possible choice that could help in avoiding some of the GMFs dangers. People have the right to know if the food they are consuming is genetically modified whether it is a matter of health, preference or just a matter of taste” Surveys consistently find that 85-90 % of consumers want clear labelling of all genetically engineered foods”(Genetic Engineered Food- A Serious Health Risk 2). Moreover, it is necessary to label food if the nutritional content is changed. Take tomatoes for example; they are a source of Vitamin C, but if through modification they lose this characteristic (Vitamin C ), consumers definitely have the right to know. The wrong treatment of GM crops may cause several environmental risks. It was proved that GM crops are easy to grow in most kinds of soils. They can grow in land that is prone to drought or erosion in addition to soils with highly salt acid conditions.

They are also capable of growing in changing climates( Genetically Modified food 4). This of course makes it easier to grow GM crops than growing natural crops. Unfortunately, this advantage is widely misused. Usually, farmers are aware of the tolerance of GM crops to herbicides (a chemical substance used to kill herbs), so they overuse herbicides. This of course harms the soil and greatly affects its performance later on. This can also pollute groundwater and can cause various other Nagi 4 forms of ecological damages. Such situations are misinterpreted by some people, as they think that such damages to the soil are caused by the growth of GM crops on it. I believe, that the main reason for such damages is the ignorance of the farmers themselves. This problem is very common and its only solution, in my opinion, is improving the level of knowledge of the farmers. They need to be aware of the right agricultural techniques of GM crops. Another problem with growing GM crops, is that some are insect-resistant which means that they may be toxic to beneficial or harmless insects. Furthermore, there are several way through which the genes of GM crops may move to other plants. That is to say, GM crops could pollute nearby natural crops.

As an example, through insects, birds and wind it can carry genetically altered seeds into neighbouring fields by mistake which will influence other natural food. “In February thousands of bags of corn chips that had been imported from US had to be destroyed in the UK when tests revealed that they contained genetically engineered corn”. This was because of being polluted by genetically engineered corn from neighbours crop. A major theme is that genetic engineering of food is necessary to help solve world hunger. Many people in the world are suffering from malnutrition and hunger. Hunger in the world is caused by war, drought and poverty. But this is not the point. Scientists and technologists are looking forward to developing new inventions to face the continues increase in the world population and get over the problems of food shortages and hunger especially for Third World countries. In fact, many people in different places suffer from hunger and malnutrition simply because they cannot afford to buy food; in addition to that, it is unavailable. Hence, we have two main Nagi 5 problems which are the expenses of food and the lack of it.

GMF could be the only solution to solve this problem, in the meantime, it can provide the world with much and cheap food. Today, GMF hold out promise for consumers seeking quality, safety and taste in their food choices. Companies are doing their best to improve the production, profits and quality. Many foodstuffs in grocery shelves all over the world contain genetically engineered components. Tomatoes, for instance, have been genetically modified to taste like home-grown ones or even better. In the past, they were put in ethylene gas in order to ripen faster which affected its taste and look (squashy). A large amount of it was currently lost by damage or degradation during transport and shortage. Recently, genetic engineered tomatoes can ripen faster and have fresher flavour and a better look. In farms, tomatoes can be left longer and picked when riper and thus become tastier.

As a result, they will be more available and sold and will encourage people to buy them as they are cheap. Likely future offerings include potatoes that will absorb less oil when fried, corn and soybeans with an increased protein content and strawberries that retain their natural sweetness (Genetically Modified food1). This all shows the importance of GMF. People claim that transferring animal genes into plant raises problems for vegetarians. This might seem confusing, but a deeper explanation will show that GMF is far away from this idea. Vegetarians fear eating genetically modified vegetables because of being injected by animal genes. They do not realise that scientists add new genes from animals intending only to give plants several proteins. These plants do not get affected by such pieces of genes, they will grow just like any other plant. In other Nagi 6 words, we will not have pieces of animals in vegetables. “

One of the things people probably dont realise is that there are genes in humans and animals that are in plants. There is a gene that occurs in rice that also occurs in the human brain. Vegetarians would not avoid rice because of that.” (Maryanski 3). So, vegetarians should feel safe when eating GMF. The conclusion to be drawn from the above is that GMF in one of the modern production improvements and the largest food experiment in the history of the world. Its appearance has been very sudden. Now, a very rapidly growing number of it is being introduced. Maybe in a few years it may be almost impossible to find natural food. No doubt, any dangerous food production through genetic engineering should be banned until scientifically shown that it is safe for everyone.

In the meantime, labelling is required foe any foodstuff that contains genetically engineered ingredients, and any risk that could harm the environment should be banned. It has to be acknowledged that GMF is one of the best production that have emerged in our century. Hopefully, in the future, it will not have any side effects, and be healthier than the current natural food. Containing all the Vitamins and nutrition that we need. We have to put in mind that if people knew all it advantages, they will surely get convinced with the idea of producing GMF.

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