ONE WORLD ESSAY GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD – Good or bad? Genetically modified (GM) food. What may seem like a sensation may just be slow poison. Genetically modified is the modification or improvement of an individual genotype. The aim of GM food is to change the phenotype, or physical features of a crop. GM food is basically inserting “better” nutrition into the foods, and making it “healthier” for people. All this may seem satisfying and great and first, but there is much to be known about the disadvantages of changing the phenotype of what you are eating. GM food may easily cause environmental and social issues. How do people genetically modify food? There are different techniques in which you can genetically modify food. One most obvious one would be “Transferring the gene.” This is basically taking a gene from one organism and inserting it into another. It is a process of copying the gene that codes for the trait of another organism and pasting the gene into the genome of the receiving crop. (Chaudry, 2011) For example, inserting thuringiensis genes into corn, to cut out the gene that is needed in the bacteria, its DNA is isolated. Afterwards, special enzymes, restriction endonucleases, receive the desired gene. These enzymes are sensitive to the DNA, so they will only receive specific parts of the DNA. (Chaudry, 2011) Once the gene is copied, scientists must make an “expression cassette.” (Chaudry 2011) The expression cassette consists of further DNA surrounding the gene so that the corn cell knows where the received gene begins and ends. Figure 1: Procedure of transferring The beginning is called the promoter and the end is gene (Chaudry, 2011) called the terminator. (Chaudry, 2011) When the expression cassette is created it is inserted into a plasmid. The plasmid is a part of the DNA that is present in bacteria. This then makes millions of copies of the cassette.
(Chaudry, 2011) After all of the process, it is inserted into the receiving cell genome. Cells that successfully receive the gene then are expanded in cell culture and used to work new plants. (Chaudry, 2011) (The diagram above shows the procedure of the gene transfer.) Until now, genetically modified foods may seem like a brilliant thing. Not only can it make crops grow faster and add more nutrition, but also the changed may be passed onto other crops. This may seem perfect, but the development of the crop will only turn out perfect if all steps are done accurately. Even a small stumble may cause a disorder on the crop, and cause the malfunction of surrounding cells. The things that could go wrong are dangerous. When looking at genetically modified foods we think about crops growing in places that they don’t usually grow, nutritious and healthier foods and a world with healthy crops. Moreover, humans think about crops that are cold tolerant, that have antifreeze gene from cold‐water fish (Whitman, 2000). However, changing natural resources will always have disadvantages. For example, potential human health impacts, such as allergies or antibiotic resistance (Oak Ridge, 2008), also, GM foods don’t taste as good as natural crop (Csanad, 2011). GM food has environmental benefits, for example it saves the use of toxic chemicals. Crops can be wasted from pests that stagger around them, resulting in catastrophic financial loss for farmers and starvation in countries. (Whitman, 2000) Farmers tend to use many tons of chemical pesticides yearly. (Whitman, 2000) People do not tend to like to eat foods that are treated with pesticides because of potential health risks. (Whitman, 2000) Growing GM foods such as B.t. corn (genetically modified) can help eliminate the application of chemical pesticides and decreases the cost of bringing them in market. However, it may also be harm to the environment. For example, gene transfers to non‐target species. The concern is that crop plants engineered for herbicide tolerance and weeds will crossbreed, resulting in the transfer of the herbicide resistance genes from the crops into the weeds. (Whitman, 2000) This can be a hazard for farmers, because their unmodified crops would be cross‐pollinated
from someone else’s GM crops. (Whitman, 2000) All in all, GM foods may be environmentally fit, and at the same time delicate. GM foods also have social benefits, for example Nutrition. Malnutrition is common in this world. People rely on single crop such as rice, however rice does not contain perfect amounts of all necessary nutrients to prevent malnutrition. (Whitman, 2000) For example, blindness due to deficiency of vitamin A is a common problem that can be increasing. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Institute for Plant Sciences have created a type of “golden” rice. (Whitman, 2000) This rice had an unusually high amount of beta‐carotene (vitamin A). This way it could help people who don’t have enough vitamin A, can prevent them from blindness. Anyhow, GM foods can cause allergenicity. Many children in the Unites States of America and Europe have developed life‐threatening allergies to peanuts, and other foods. There is a high possibility that introducing a new gene into a crop can create a new allergen, or cause allergic reactions in people. (Whitman, 2000) Hence, in Brazil nuts into soybeans was abandoned because of the fear of causing allergic reactions. (Whitman, 2000) On the whole GM foods may be healthy and/or unhealthy for people. (The diagram on the left shows the growth of genetically modified food during the 1996‐1999) Figure 2: Growth of GM food during 19961999 (Food In conclusion, GM food may be Woo, 2011) very beneficial to people in the sense that gene transfer can be environmentally friendly and healthier for humans. GM food has a lot of potential in doing great things, but is withheld, as there are too many unexpected results that may be risk‐full. It may not only harm people or the
environment, but it may also harm other crops. Up until now, GM foods have started as a great resolution for loss of food, but if not used correctly it can become the reason that kills you. If the growth of amounts of GM food has been growing so fast and by a lot of numbers then the number of GM foods will be higher in the future. This can cause the future generation a disadvantage. GM food wasn’t created to harm people, but the results are out of our reach, so it would be best to stop Genetically modifying food for the safety of our lives and for the future generation. Bibliography: Chaudry, Arshad. "The Science Creative Quarterly » GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS."The Science Creative Quarterly. Web. 28 Mar. 2011. http://www.scq.ubc.ca/genetically‐modified‐foods/ Csanad. "Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Crops (GMOS)." HubPages. Web. 20 Mar. 2011. http://hubpages.com/hub/GMO‐advantages‐and‐disadvantages "Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms ‐‐HGP Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues." Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 5 Nov. 2008. Web. 20 Mar. 2011. http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/gmfood.shtml "The Advantages and Threats of Genetically Modified Food." Food Woo. Web. 11 Apr. 2011. http://www.foodwoo.com/the‐advantages‐and‐threats‐of‐genetically‐modified‐food.html Whitman, Deborah B. "Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?" CSA. ProQuest, Apr. 2000. Web. 20 Mar. 2011. http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview.php