What is it?• Genetically modified foods are produced by changing the genes of a plant/animal in a lab so that it can possess traits that it wouldn’t naturally• By doing this, scientists can change the characteristics of that plant/animal and make them more desirable
How is it created?• There are different techniques that scientists use to make genetically modified foods1. Agrobacterium Tumefaciens- inserts strands of DNA intoplants, as a result the plant can produce chemicals that it needs tostay alive2. Biolistics- gun fires a gene into the plant cell & it is carried onpieces of gold in hopes that the cell will use the instructions on thegene3. Protoplasts- the cell walls are removed which makes access intothe cell easier for the DNA
Why create GM foods?• Genetically modified foods can be better for the environment because they are designed to be resistant to certain pests and disease, and they do not have to be sprayed with pesticides which damage the surrounding environment. GM foods could possibly decrease the amount of pesticides farmers need to use in food production and lower the pesticide levels on the earth• Genetically modified foods are also beneficial health wise because they can be infused with nutrients and vitamins, and have enhanced quality and taste as well. Nutritional value of foods increases because of the DNA injected into GM foods
What are the risks of GM foods?• Genetically modified foods may be harmful to consume. Since GM foods are infused with new DNA, they could introduce new allergens/toxins into food, which could cause people to have serious reactions to the food• Genetically modified foods could have numerous negative effects on the environment including cross-pollination (unintended transfer of genes). “Super-weeds” would begin to grow as a result, and take out other species of plants.
Arguments for labeling GM foods• Many people believe that it is their right to know what is in their food• Other nutritional facts are already labeled on products• Consuming GM foods could be a health risk b/c we don’t know exactly what is done to the product• Would make it easy for people that want to steer clear of GM products to do so• For religious and/or ethical reasons, people do not want to eat animals/animal DNA• At least 21 countries including the European Union already have some sort of mandatory labeling law in place
Arguments against labeling GM foods• Labeling is not necessary b/c if the food contains a nutritional/allergenic difference, the FDA is already required to label this• Labeling would make GM goods more expensive• Retailers in other countries w/ labeling had to take GM foods off shelves b/c customers wouldn’t buy them• People who want all natural, not GM food already have the option to do so• There isn’t enough room in food supply units to separate GM foods from non-GM foods• We would have to start educating people on how to read the GM label which would take time and money
My opinion: Reason #1 I believe that genetically modified foods should be labeled.• My first reason for being in favor of labeling is because of potential health risks. If there has been a modification done to the food I’m purchasing, I would like to know what the risks are and what has been done to it before I eat it. Scientists claim that there are no harmful effects of GM foods. However, we do not know this for sure, and scientists have reasons to believe that they are not completely safe. “For example, scientists recently found that the insecticide in GE corn is now showing up in our bloodstream and the umbilical cord blood of pregnant women” (Just Label It). Also, there is no law that states that scientists need to test the GM foods on people before putting them on the market. We do not know for sure if GM foods are safe, and therefore I think they should be labeled, so people know exactly what they are putting into their body.
My opinion: Reason #2• My second reason why I think genetically modified foods should be labeled is because I think that it would be a good way for people to learn about GM foods. A lot of people know nothing about biotechnology and what they are consuming. This is because there are no labels to tell them. If there were labels on GM foods, people would become more educated about what they’re buying. Here’s what oppositions have to say, “This may be the greatest challenge faced be a new food labeling policy: how to educate and inform the public without damaging the public trust and causing alarm or fear of GM food products” (CSA). In my opinion, I do not think that people would run away from GM foods. I think it would benefit everyone, because they would learn about the health risks and what goes into the food they eat. We already have labels for other nutritional facts on food products, so why not add one more. I’m in favor of labeling partially because of the education that would result from it.
My opinion: Reason #3• My third reason why I believe genetically modified foods should be labeled is because other countries are already labeling GM products on the market. Why shouldn’t the United States be required to do the same? “At least 21 countries and the European Union have established some form of mandatory labeling” (Colorado State University). People in various countries are able to know right away what they are buying and consuming, if it is safe for them, the health risks involved, etc. Citizens in the United States are left in the dark. By other countries labeling GM foods, it leads us to believe that they know something we don’t. If GM foods aren’t risky as producers claim, then there is no reason why the United States shouldn’t be required to label the GM products. Putting a label on GM products would bring us up to speed with other countries and benefit everyone.
Bibliography• Byrne, P. "Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods." Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods. Colorado State University, Sept. 2010. Web. 09 Jan. 2013.• Daley, Alex. "Is Genetically Modified Food Killing Us?" Is Genetically Modified Food Killing Us? The Daily Reckoning, 26 Nov. 2012. Web. 09 Jan. 2013.• "Genetically Engineered Foods." Just Label It. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2013.• "Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms." Better Health Channel. Deakin University of Australia, Nov. 2011. Web. 9 Jan. 2013.• "Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms." Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms - HGP Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues. U.S. Department of Energy Genome Program, 17 May 2012. Web. 09 Jan. 2013.• "Special Report: Food under the Microscope." BBC News. BBC, 18 May 1999. Web. 09 Jan. 2013.• Whitman, Deborah B. "Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?" Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful? CSA, Apr. 2000. Web. 10 Jan. 2013.