The times, they are a-changing – we are doubling the rate of technological innovation every ten years. Genetic engineering is considered a huge breakthrough in science. Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are living things whose genetic components have been altered or modified using biotechnology and genetic engineering. To put it simply, genes are implanted into the grains and become mixtures of genetic material.
GMOs are generally known as harmful for consumers, and many countries have forbidden manufacturing and trade of GMOs. Nonetheless, there are a few that allow GMOs. Some European countries import 30 million tons of genetically modified grain every year. China, Japan, and Canada – for instance, restricted some GMO products, although the US still allows GMOs to be cropped, sold, and bought on account of a possibility to make a good profit of it.
What food is the most commonly altered? Cereals, soy, yellow crookneck squash, zucchini, sugar beets and milk. Many producers alter cereals and soy to make them immune to herbicide, which is harmful to seedling. Zucchini and yellow crookneck squash are probably less modified. The vegetables have protein genes, so they are protected against viruses. Farmers feed cows with growth hormone to give the larger amount of milk.
Why are foods altered? Modifying foods could give advantages to either a manufacturer or a buyer. Cereals are altered to make crops more resistant to herbicides, dryness, and even infections transmitted via insects. They need fewer resources to grow as well. Genetically altered foods stay fresh longer, have a good taste and cost less, which may seem appealing to consumers.
However, not everyone thinks GMOs are safe. Many people including scientists are fearful of harmful impact genetically modified food can have for consumers. The significant issue with crossbreeds is a possibility of posing a threat to human health, as mutations in DNA are related to cancer and other diseases. Based on the tests, crossbreeds can be unhealthy. For example, as reported by the Institute for Responsible Technology, “genetically modified food was associated with harmful and allergic reactions, sick, clean and dead cattle, and harm to basically each organ examined in lab animals.”
GMO supporters maintain that crossbreeds are beneficial. They affirm that assortment of rice grown via genetic engineering can be used in areas where there is a shortage of dietary vitamin A. Notwithstanding, GMOs aren’t the answer for universal food protection. In many cases, conventional farm technologies are much more successful.
Some of the anti-GMO activists claim that genetically modified organisms can lead to environmental damage as well. GMOs may be poisonous to butterflies and bees particularly. Bees are an integral part of the pollination of many yields, but genetic engineering poses a huge threat to them. Additionally, birds are suffering from pesticides as well, which is again spoiling the natural harmony.
Finally, biodiversity is exposed at risk by GMOs. When genetically altered harvests are planted, many heritage seeds are no longer used, and as a result, there is less nectar for pollinators. Moreover, by penetrating into the ground through the stem of a plant, toxins kill soil bacteria which are vital for crops to grow without pesticides – thus, the soil is becoming dry and deprived of all integral ingredients.
Overall, modifying foods have more weaknesses than strengths. Altered cereals are more resistant to pesticides, dryness, and even infections transmitted via insects than non-modified. GMOs stay fresh longer, cost less – and that is good for consumers. On the other hand, crossbreeds can be dangerous to human well-being due to mutations in DNA. Aside from health problems, GMOs are the subject matter of environmental safety debate as well. Overall, it may be said that the controversy around genetically modified living things is immense and fierce on both sides.
- Genetically Modified Foods – Learn Genetics, http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/science/gmfoods/
- Genetically Modified Foods | Natural Society, http://naturalsociety.com/genetically-modified-foods/