GM Foods And Biotechnology BY: Maria Jose Rivera
Is it Harmful or Beneficial? How does Biotechnology Affect Agriculture? Can Genetic Engineering be Regulated? Consider these questions?
Dangerous Safe & Beneficial B. Julie Johnson, an ecofeminist writer and activist, fears that genetic engineering will devalue life; not only of animals but humans as well. She is afraid of the selling and buying genes as products. Bernard D. Davis, a professor of Bacterial Physiology at Harvard wrote a book outlining the benefits of genetic engineering, such as medical advances and improved crops. In an effort to stay away from pesticides, which were thought to once be the panacea for world hunger. Technocrats have now turned to biotechnology to improve nature by the manipulation of DNA. The likelihood that we can improve species further is the drive for more research and experiments. It is claimed that this biotechnology is not that much different from domestication or the theory of evolution; except that it’s much faster.
Experiments: Hypothesis: Pigs will grow fatter and faster when a human growth gene is added to their DNA. Result: Pigs are actually leaner than those who did not get the added gene and on top of that are crippled, have arthritis, gastric ulcers, enlarged hearts, dermatitis and kidney problems. Result: Potatoes are resistant to a variety of diseases. The experiment was successful. Hypothesis: Potatoes will be resistant to diseases when a frog’s gene is added.
Improves Does Not Improve Dyson says that Bug- and Herbicide-resistant cotton are genetically modified and produce biodegradable plastics and human proteins for medical treatments. Genetic Engineering also makes fruits and vegetables that are tastier and juicer. Keehn says that large seed and chemical corporations only develop resistant crops to consolidate their control of agricultural industry, not to improve farming. He insists that these are threats to the environment as there will emerge a creation of herbicide-tolerant weeds.
FDA’s Regulation of GM Foods: 1. Unexpected Effects (produces unexpected genetic effects) 2. Known Toxicants (has significantly higher levels of toxicants than present in other edible varieties of the same species) 3. Nutrients (significantly alters levels of important nutrients) 4. New Substances (differs significantly in composition from such substances currently found in food) 5. Allergenicity (contains proteins that cause an allergic response) 6. Antibiotic Resistance Selectable Markers (contains marker genes that could produce antibiotic resistance in people who consumed the food) 7. Plants Developed to Make Specialty Nonfood Substances (plants developed to make substances like pharmaceuticals or polymers that will also be used for food) 8. Issues Specific to Animal Feeds (plants that will be used for animal feeds)
Scientists learned to cut genes in 1980 and have been moving them into other organisms since then. They claim to be doing the same as farmers have done with plants; crossing them to make them better. However, by using bioengineering this process is faster. Through this process scientists have made it possible for tomatoes to last longer as their rotting process is slowed down for at least a week. No longer do tomatoes have to be picked green. They have done this by deactivating the PG Enzyme, which tomatoes have that make their cells break down. Cotton has also had a gene added. So no longer do farmers have to spray chemicals 12 times a season just to keep bugs and viruses away. Farmers no longer lose over a fourth of their crop. The gene added to cotton came from a bacterium. And it’s kept many pests away.
But successes can just as easily turn to failures, if bugs perhaps evolve as well. So genetically engineered Bt crops are not as far from pesticides as thought. If anything they make the process for organisms to become resistant faster. Bollworms were spotted alive on cotton plants as in the pictures at the right. These bollworms are now the super bugs. They are pests but they need to eat as well. And in their desperate hunger have surpassed what the scientists have modified in this cotton plant. This worm also is resistant to BT corn. Bt corn was made to be protected from pests as well. However, it has killed monarch butterflies that live near by.
The family farmer being overtaken by the huge farm industries is not anything new. And this won’t appear to change with genetically modifying food with new biotechnology. Genetically engineered foods are sold. So those people with lower incomes may not even get to enjoy the benefits that biotech may bring. Or maybe being kept away from them, is good? It all will depend in the future. But as far as the arguments go. This biotech has not solved world hunger. Not because it lacks potential. But because world hunger has more strings attached to it then making enough food for everyone. It depends on economics and politics. GM crops have been both successful and failures. So, it is hard to predict whether they will harm us or help us in the long term. But as far as studies go, cures may be discovered for human diseases.
Greenpeace is a global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace by: Catalysing an energy revolution to address the number one threat facing our planet: climate change. Defending our oceans by challenging wasteful and destructive fishing, and creating a global network of marine reserves. Protecting the world’s remaining ancient forests and the animal, plants and people that depend on them. Working for disarmament and peace by reducing dependence on finite resources and calling for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. Creating a toxic free future with safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals in today's products and manufacturing. Supporting sustainable agriculture by encouraging socially and ecologically responsible farming practices. The Royal Society of London, and the national academies of science of Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and the United States, and the Third World Academy of Sciences are all supporters of GM Foods as announced in several newspapers, one of which was the Chicago Tribune. S C I E N T I S T S
“ In recent years pressing questions have been raised with regard to the use of new forms of biotechnology in the areas of agriculture, animal farming, medicine and environmental protection. The new possibilities offered by current biological and biogenetic techniques are a source of hope and enthusiasm on the one hand, and of alarm and hostility on the other . The application of various types of biotechnology, their acceptability from a moral point of view, their consequences for human health and their impact on the environment and the economy are the subject of thorough study and heated debate. These are controversial questions that involve scientists and researchers, politicians and legislators, economists and environmentalists, as well as producers and consumers. Christians are not indifferent to these problems, for they are aware of the importance of the values at stake.” The Catholic Church says: From the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Part II, IV. Common Responsibility, Ch. 10, b. Use of Biotechnology