Is Genetically Modified Food Safe for Human Bodies and the Environment?

Environmental societies, professional bodies, religious groups and public officials have all shown concerns regarding Genetically Modified (GM) foods, and condemned agribusiness for practicing profit without considering possible hazards, and regimes for failing to implement sufficient regulatory supervision.

Although genetically-modified foods are capable of resolving most starvation and malnutrition issues, and aiding safeguard and conserve the environment they also pose several human health and environmental risks, which forms the thesis of this study.

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What are Genetically Modified Foods?

The expression GM foods are usually employed to refer to crop plants produced for human or animal utilization using the most recent molecular biology skills. These plants are usually tailored to develop desired qualities such as augmented resistance to herbicides or superior nutritional substance. The enrichment of desired qualities has customarily been performed through breeding, but conservative plant breeding techniques can be time consuming and are usually not particularly precise.

Conversely, genetic engineering can make plants with the desired feature rapidly and with much precision. For instance, plant geneticists can separate a gene liable for drought forbearance and introduce that gene into another plant. The new genetically-modified plant will also increase drought forbearance. Genes can be relocated from one plant to a different one, though genes from non-plant species can as well be utilized.

A good example of this is the utilization of Bacillus thuringiensis genes in maize and other crops (Makoni and Jennifer 303). Bacillus thuringiensis is a physically occurring bacterium which generates crystal proteins, which are toxic to caterpillars. The genes of Bacillus thuringiensis have been transmitted into maize, allowing the maize to generate its own pesticides.

History of Genetically Modified Foods

Genetically modified crops were produced for the first time in 1980s. The earliest bio-modified food to arrive at the supermarket was the Flavr Savr tomato, which was standardized in 1994. With a particularly solid hide, the Flavr Savr guaranteed a longer shelf existence than nearly all tomatoes (Zinnen 31).

However, its insufficient traits and high price marked it for collapse. Scientists go on to work on tomatoes that mature gradually and feel superior. Scientists have customarily sorted plants for wanted traits, but conventional reproductions are less precise and slow than genetic modification in creating the preferred traits.

Tools for genetically modifying foods present pretentious guarantee for meeting a number of greatest problems in prospect. Similar to all new skills, they pretense some menace, both recognized and mysterious. Arguments surrounding GM foods usually focus on environmental and human safety.

Prevalence and Involved Plants

As said by the United States Department of Agriculture and FDA, there exist above forty plant types that have fulfilled all of the national necessities for commercialization.

Various examples of these plants consist of cantaloupes and tomatoes that have customized ripening traits, sugar beets and soya beans which are anti-herbicides, and cotton plants and corn with improved resistance to vermin. The products of all these are not accessible in grocery stores so far. Nevertheless, the pervasiveness of genetically modified foodstuffs in the United States supermarkets is more prevalent than it is deemed.

Though there are extremely few wholly genetically-modified vegetables and fruits obtainable on produce plunks, vastly processed foods like cereals and vegetable oils, most probably have some minute fractions of genetically-modified constituents since the unprocessed ingredients have been united into one processing flow from several sources. In addition, the utilization of soybean products as food additives ascertains that most U.S. consumers use genetically modified food derivatives.

Benefits of Genetically Modified Foods

GM foods have many benefits. These advantages are directly connected to the environment and human health. The following is a discussion of the benefits of using genetically modified foods.

The first benefit is pest resistance. Loss of crops due to insect vermin can be overwhelming, ensuing in devastating economic loss for farmers and undernourishment in emerging nations. Agriculturalists usually use several tons of chemical insect killers per annum. Eating food that is treated with pesticides can cause potential health hazards to customers.

Also, overspill of agricultural desecrates from extreme use of fertilizers and insect killers can make water supply toxic and result to environmental destruction. Planting genetically modified foods like Bacillus thuringiensis can aid eradicate the use of chemical pesticides and decrease the charge of taking a crop to marketplace. Hence, potential health hazards to consumers will be reduced.

The second benefit is herbicide tolerance (Friends of the Earth 1). For most crops, it is not rewarding to eliminate weeds by physical methods such as digging, hence; farmers will frequently spray vast quantities of dissimilar weed-killers to annihilate weeds, which is a lasting and costly process that calls for care so that the weed-killer does not damage the crop plant or the surroundings.

Genetically-modified crop plants, which resist potent herbicides, can aid avoid environmental harm by lessening the quantity of herbicides required. For instance, Monsanto has produced a strain of soybeans genetically tailored to be not changed by their herbicide creation. A farmer cultivates these soybeans which afterwards only need a single application of herbicides instead of several applications, decreasing production expenditure and restraining the risks of agricultural waste overspill.

The third benefit is disease resistance. There exist lots of fungi, viruses and bacteria which source plant infections. Biologists of plants are endeavoring to produce plants with genetically-modified resistance to these infections. This will in turn lead to a safeguard of the environment as less toxic substances will be introduced into the environment for disease resistance purposes.

The fourth benefit is cold tolerance (Liang and Daniel 145). Unpredicted frost can annihilate susceptible plantlets. Plants are capable of dealing with the cold temperatures, which typically would kill the unmodified plantlet, by using the antifreeze gene. This increases food production, which in turn improves human health.

The fifth benefit is salinity tolerance. Since the earth population has raised and more land is used for building shelter rather than food creation, farmers will have to cultivate crops in places formerly inappropriate for plant farming. Hence, the need for making plants that can endure long phases of drought or high salt substance in the groundwater.

The sixth benefit is nutrition. Undernourishment is widespread in developing countries, where poor peoples depend on a single crop like rice as the core staple of their food. Nevertheless, rice lacks sufficient levels of all essential food constituents to shun malnutrition. Through genetic engineering, rice can be made to have extra minerals and vitamins, hence improving human health by lessening nutrient shortages.

For instance, visual impairment due to vitamin A lack is a widespread matter in developing nations. Professionals at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Institute for Plant Sciences have formed peculiar rice having an extraordinarily high substance of beta-carotene. As this rice was financed by the Rockefeller Foundation, the organization expects to present the rice seed at no cost to any developing nation that needs it, with the aim of improving human health.

The seventh benefit is pharmaceuticals. Vaccines and drugs often are expensive to manufacture and at times need storage surroundings that are not readily obtainable in developing nations. Scientists are endeavoring to build up harmless vaccines and drugs in potatoes and tomatoes. It will be easier to store these drugs and vaccines than to transport and direct customary vaccines, hence improving human health.

The last benefit is phytoremediation. A number of GM crops are not built as crops. As a result, ground water and soil contamination persists to be a dilemma in all regions of the globe.

Environmental Safety

A key area of concern adjoining GM foods is environmental safety. Particularly, critics are concerned about destruction to other species and the involuntary effects trans- genes intended to fight pests might have on useful insects or how they can distress a range of balances in the environment. Studies reveal that pollen from B.t. corn results to elevated death rates in the monarch butterfly caterpillars (Hellmich 1).

Monarch caterpillars use milkweed plants instead of corn. However, the dismay is that if pollen from B.t. corn is delivered by the airstream onto milkweed vegetation in near regions, the caterpillars might consume the pollen and die. Sadly, B.t. contaminants kill several classes of insect larvae haphazardly; it is not feasible to plan a B.t. venom that would only destroy crop destructive pests and spare all other pests.

Excellent weeds and excellent pests are also forming an area of concern. Crop plants modified for herbicide forbearance and weeds might cross-breed through vertical transfers, ensuing in the transmission of the herbicide opposition genes from the crop plants into the unwanted weeds (Tambornino 5). These enhanced weeds are likely to tolerate herbicides.

Another particular environmental dismay is the possibility for wild crosspollination (GM Foods 1). Other launched genes may intersect into non-tailored crops placed beside GM crops.

The likelihood of interbreeding is revealed by the resistance of farmers against claims organized by Monsanto. The corporation has filed patent violation claims against farmers who might have produced GM crops. Monsanto asserts that the farmers acquired Monsanto-certified GM seeds from an unidentified source and did not reimburse payments to Monsanto (Vegsource.com 1).

Conversely, the farmers argue that their original crops were cross-pollinated from another person’s GM crops planted a few miles. Analogous concerns encircle the involuntary formation of new super pests that would be opposing to several insect killers. Similar to how the excess use of antibiotics has made some bacteria build up resistance to nearly all antibiotics, prevalent GMO farming could result to pesticide-resistant excellent pests.

Food Safety

Another concern adjoining GM foods is the bringing in of new allergies (Tambornino 5). With almost a quarter of Americans recording an adverse effect to no less than one food, opponents of GMOs says they stand to think that integrating genes from diverse food springs only can augment the threat of extra food allergies.

Several children in Europe and US have experience acute allergies to peanuts and other foodstuffs. Again, a suggestion to integrate a genetic material from Brazil nuts into soybeans was discarded as of the dread of causing unanticipated allergic responses.

Furthermore, several people are concerned that if the genetic material from a nut were transmitted to a new food crop, folks with an allergy to nuts innocently could eat the allergen with potentially cruel effects. Therefore, the transmission of genes from known allergenic foods is dejected unless it can be verified that the protein creation of the transmitted genetic material is not allergenic.

Whereas conventionally developed foods usually are not examined for allergenicity, procedures for assessments for GM foods have been assessed by WHO and the United Nations. At present, genetically modified foods in the market have had no allergic consequences.

Gene shift is another security concern linked to GM foods. Gene shift from GM foods to body units or to bacteria would raise concern if the shifted genetic material harmfully affected human wellbeing. This chiefly would be pertinent if antibiotic fight genes, used in generating GMOs, were to be shifted. While the likelihood of transfer is small, the utilization of technology devoid of antibiotic fight genes has been motivated.

The security evaluation of GM foods usually investigates instant health impact; likelihood to stimulate allergic response; precise components considered having nutritional or poisonous traits; the steadiness of the introduced gene; dietetic effects connected with genetic modification; and any involuntary effects that could outcome from the introduction of the gene.

Broad assessment of GM foods may be necessary to evade the likelihood of harm to customers with food allergies. Classification of GM foods and foodstuffs will obtain new significance.

There is a rising fear that bringing in alien genes into crop plants may have an unanticipated and harmful effect on human health. Latest studies assert that there are substantial disparities in the guts of rodents that consume genetically modified food and rats that consume original food (Tambornino 5). However, most scientists say that, GM foods do not lead to human health risk.

In conclusion, genetic engineering can make plants with the desired feature quickly and with much precision. However, genetically-modified foods have many impacts on human beings and the environment. A key area of concern adjoining GM foods is environmental safety.

Particularly, critics are concerned about destruction to other species and the involuntary effects trans- genes intended to fight pests might have on useful insects or how they can distress a range of balances in the environment. Excellent weeds and excellent pests are also forming an area of concern. Crop plants modified for herbicide forbearance and weeds might cross-breed, ensuing in the transmission of the herbicide opposition genes from the crop plants into the unwanted weeds. These enhanced weeds are likely to tolerate herbicides.

Another particular environmental fear is the possibility for wild crosspollination. Conversely, the farmers argue that their original crops were cross-pollinated from another person’s GM crops planted a few miles. Equivalent concerns encircle the involuntary formation of new super pests that would be opposing to several insect killers.

Similar to how the excess use of antibiotics has made some bacteria build up resistance to nearly all antibiotics, prevalent GMO farming could result to pesticide-resistant excellent pests. A different concern adjoining GM foods is the bringing in of new allergies. Several children in Europe and US have experience acute allergies to peanuts and other foodstuffs.

A suggestion to integrate a genetic material from Brazil nuts into soybeans was discarded as of the dismay of causing unanticipated allergic responses. Furthermore, several people are concerned that if the genetic material from a nut were transmitted to a new food crop, persons with an allergy to nuts innocently could eat the allergen with potentially cruel effects.

Therefore, the transmission of genes from known allergenic foods is dejected unless it can be verified that the protein creation of the transmitted genetic material is not allergenic. Whereas conventionally developed foods usually are not examined for allergenicity, procedures for assessments for GM foods have been assessed by WHO and the United Nations. Gene shift is another security concern linked to GM foods.

Gene shift from GM foods to body units or to bacteria would raise concern if the shifted genetic material harmfully affected human wellbeing. This chiefly would be pertinent if antibiotic fight genes, used in generating genetically modified organisms, were to be shifted. While the likelihood of transfer is small, the utilization of technology devoid of antibiotic fight genes has been motivated.

The security evaluation of GM foods usually investigates instant health impact; likelihood to stimulate allergic response; precise components considered having nutritional or poisonous traits; the steadiness of the introduced gene; dietetic effects connected with genetic modification; and any involuntary effects that could outcome from the introduction of the gene.

Broad assessment of GM foods may be necessary to evade the likelihood of harm to customers with food allergies. Classification of genetically modified foods and foodstuffs will obtain new significance.

Works Cited

Friends of the Earth. Briefing Note: Herbicide Use and GM Crops. Web.10 Nov. 2011.

GM Foods. Genetically Modified (GM) Foods Renewed Threat to Europe. Web.10 Nov. 2011.

Hellmich, Richard. Monarch Butterflies and Bt Corn. Web.10 Nov. 2011.

Liang, George H. and Daniel Z. Skinner. Genetically Modified Crops: their Development, Uses, and Risks. New York: Food Products Press, 2004

Makoni, Nathaniel and Jennifer Mohamed-Katerere. Genetically Modified Crops. Web.10 Nov. 2011. < http://www.unep.org/DEWA/Africa/docs/en/aeo-2/chapters/aeo-2_ch09_GENETICALLY_MODIFIED_CROPS.pdf>

Tambornino, Lisa. Genetically Modified Foods. Web.10 Nov. 2011.

Vegsource.com. Percy Schmeiser Stands up to — and Takes down – Monsanto. Web.10 Nov. 2011.

Zinnen, Tom. Biotechnology and Food: Leader and Participant Guide. Web.10 Nov. 2011.

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