Sunday, September 1, 2019

Arguments for and Against Genetically Modified Food Essay

â€Å"Biotechnology involves any technique that uses living organisms or parts there of to make or modify products, to improve plants or animals or to develop micro organisms for specific uses† (Dr Sriwatanapongse, www. afic. org) In the past century we’ve have been lucky enough to stumble upon one of the basic building blocks of organisms, DNA. In recent years scientists have been able to develop ways in which they can manipulate, alter, and transfer DNA in forms that can help improve our lives. One way in which DNA research has been used to improve our lifestyle, is by engineering the deoxyribonucleic acid into ways which can alter food supplies to make them bigger, taste better, resistant to pests and even make them have a greater concentration of nutrients. Of course this is great news to the human population, in terms of economic and life-saving values for third world countries, yet there are still disadvantages. With all the good news that comes from these altered crops, concerns are still among people. These concerns include; whether or not these alterations will affect humans in a negative way, or how they will impact the environment. Genetically engineering crops might play a significant role in increasing crop yield therefore allowing the world to feed more people while using less land. A recent study on bioengineered crops concluded that these crops are safe and can improve production dramatically. â€Å"To date, total acres of biotech crops harvested exceed more than 1 billion with a proven 10-year history of safe use. Over the next decade, expanded adoption combined with current research on 57 crops in 63 countries will broaden the advantages of genetically modified foods for growers, consumers and the environment. † (www. monsanto. com) Those opposing the genetically altered crops state that â€Å"One major detriment to genetically engineered food is that there has been no adequate testing to ensure that extracting genes from useful functions will yield the same results in different applications and species† (www. govhs. org). Predictions of future are that, consumers are able to get foods that last longer, taste better and are more nutritious than the current foods. There will also an even greater variety of foods all year round. These products will be made possible through genetic engineering, and some of them are already available. For centuries, farmers grew plants to produce special foods with unique characteristics: better taste, higher yield or greater resistance to drought or frosts. History shows, that five thousand years ago in Peru, potatoes were grown selectively. Plants, which produced potatoes with attractive characteristics, such as higher yields, were used to produce future plants. More than two thousand years ago, tree grafting was used by the Greeks to Gain a more fruit in orchards. Now, we have genetically engineered food that has been discovered and now offers a faster and more reliable method of establishing new traits in plants to provide foods that are better tasting, more nutritious or more in amount. Although all of this may seem futuristic, such crops do already exist. Not only have these crops been in laboratories for decades, but they have been in the market for years. Humans have only just begun to realize the benefits of these genetically altered foods. Genetically altered foods allow a wide selection of things to improve upon. Some altered abilities already exists in our fruits and vegetables, these include: pest, disease and herbicide. By using genetic engineering, plants that resist disease, pests or insects can be developed. This means that less chemicals, such as pesticides, are required. In the near future scientists hopefully will be able to â€Å"improve the drought resistance of most crop species and could have major implications for crops grown in dry areas† ( net. au/news). Weather resistance Plants could and can be developed to better withstand extreme weather conditions such as drought or frosts. Genetically engineering foods make crops easier to maintain and lower the cost in maintenance. One benefit of altered foods which is often overlooked is the Improved processing characteristics of these foods, leading to reduced waste and lower food costs to the consumer. Foods are being developed to contain more vitamins, minerals, protein and less saturated fat. For example, fruits and vegetables with higher levels of antioxidant vitamins â€Å"may reduce cardiovascular disease risk and help reduce the risk of certain cancers† (www. americanheart. org). The world population is expected to double to more than 10 billion people by the year 2050. Food biotechnology can help meet the increasing demand for food. â€Å"By increasing a crop’s ability to withstand environmental factors, growers will be able to farm in parts of the world currently unsuitable for crop production. Along with additional food, this could also provide economies of developing nations with much-needed jobs and greater productivity. Genetically engineered foods seem to have solved all the problems farmers and growers have had for years. Unfortunately all the positive effects of altered foods seem to mask the reality behind these perfect crops. Some of the disadvantages of altered crops include the possibility of mutations. â€Å"Plant breeders have induced mutations in selected plants by treating them with chemicals or radiation; however this is costly and unpredictable† (Microorganisms, biotechnology and Disease). Genetic engineering changes the nature of the food eaten. It can cause unexpected mutations in an organism, which can create new and higher levels of toxins in foods. Genetic engineering can produce unknown allergens in foods. Some foods may be implanted with the ability to produce antibiotics. This may help the plant, but if these plants that are infected with bacteria emerge new strands of bacteria that may become resistant to the most advanced antibiotics, there will be a problem. With herbicide-resistant crops, weeds may evolve to also become herbicide resistant. The spread of diseases across specific species may also become a factor because of a loss of ? bio-diversity’ in crops. When crops are altered for specific abilities, they are then mass produced. They are the only type of species grown in field of thousands. Because of this, the species will only be able to pass on to all generations the same DNA. Once started, they may not be easily controlled or contained. It makes the crops hard to calculate. Unfortunately the biggest problem raised from new modified foods is the fact that the public is unaware of how it works and the results behind the genetically modified food. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the genetic code in living organisms. About twenty five years ago, scientists began to understand how DNA worked. From this ways for speeding up breeding processes were understood to a degree. Agricultural scientists today can identify the genes that carry specific traits they want, such as ? disease resistance’ or ? nutrient content’ and transfer those genes to a plant, therefore creating a transgenic organism. Genetic engineering is the process of artificially modifying these ? blueprints’. By cutting and splicing DNA, engineers can transfer genes specific to one type of organism into any other organism. Some organisms have been enhanced through biotechnology such as; tomatoes, that go ? soft’ more slowly and so remain on the vine for longer. This gives them more colour and flavour. Also, virus resistant papyrus and squash, that make the crop more dependable. Genetically modified food seems to have already changed the world today. Many countries are already considering making more of their crops with genetically engineered properties. Scientists have gained a vast knowledge of genetic engineering and are now able to make many possibilities. Genetically engineered food has brought a lot of commercial benefits; increased crops quality, harvesting quantity, pest resistance, herbicide resistance, nutrient supplementation and more. Not only have the crops improved, but more crops are produced in less space. Although the benefits of bioengineering seem fantastic, there are still many mysteries left to understand in such a vast field of understanding. Genetic engineering might cause serious consequences to our future life as well next generations to come. Deeper insight into genetic engineering may be all that is needed for us to gain truly unlimited advantage from such a vast scientific field.

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