Genetically modified (GM) foods have been around for quite some time.
Chances are, just about everyone has eaten some type of GM food product.
With the new and developing technologies that the biotechnology industry
has to offer, the GM food market has risen in leaps and bounds. A
genetically modified food is a food that has had its genetic make-up
altered in some way by DNA technology. It can involve the transfer of
genes from one organism to another or be sprayed with a genetically
The characteristics of the product may or may not
remain the same depending on which genes have been altered. Some changes
that are often seen include their color, flavor, texture, and their ability
to resist insects and tolerate herbicides. The use of this science has
given rise to much conflict in the public sector and has scared many
consumers. As biotechnologists, it is our job to educate the public and
inform them of the risks or lack of risks in genetically modified foods.
With a growing world population and the race to be the first to develop the
next technological break through, the area of genetic manipulation has
become a popular area for discovery. The agricultural industry is very
open and excited for the introduction of new technologies that will provide
them with a much higher yield and an overall better quality product.
of the suppliers that use these agricultural products have become skeptical
and cautious when buying from the farmers due to the media and government
regulating bodies. The most powerful body that will make or break this
field is the consumers. If people will not buy the products at the store,
then the market for GM food will dissolve. In this paper we will discuss
some of the risks and benefits of genetically modified foods and hear
positions in favor of, and in opposition to such products.
Positions and Discussion
To eat or not to eat, that is the question. How often do you think of
genetics or biotechnology as you are enjoying your favorite foods? Does
gene splicing ever cross your mind as you slice tomatoes, or do you ever
think about growth hormones as you sink your teeth into that juicy steak?
Not very often if you are like most people, but perhaps you should.
the items you eat have been genetically modified by using biotechnology in
some way. These products are often referred to as GMOs (genetically
modified organisms). There are several different types of modified foods.
Designer foods are processed foods that are supplemented with ingredients
rich in disease preventing substances by genetic engineering. Functional
foods are any modified food that may provide health benefits. Biotechnology
and the human understanding of it have allowed for great advances in the
world of agriculture.
Perhaps one of the best advances is GM foods. By
altering one or a few genes scientists can create a more user friendly and
helpful organism. The first genetically modified plants were introduced
experimentally in 1982. Since then, different combinations and varieties
have been tested and the first of these crops became commercially available
in 1996. Some people are frightened by this new technology and feel these
foods are unsafe. ” The ability to splice genetic sequences into living
organisms where they would not normally be found raises fears that we are
somehow creating Frankenstein-like versions of corn or unleashing something
that we will not be able to control”.
(Mainschein, J. (01-01-2000). Who’s
in Charge of the Gene Genie?.The World & I, 84.) The main reason that
genetically engineered food could be dangerous is because there has been no
adequate testing to ensure that altering genes that perform an apparently
useful function as part of that plant or animal is going to have the same
effects if inserted into a totally unrelated plant or animal. Cross-
breeding by farmers and evolution by Nature, has always involved gene
transfer between similar species, not completely different species like a
fish and a potato, which is alarming to the public.
It may be that in the
long term, genetically modified food could provide us with benefits and be
a safe alternative, but we cannot know that at this time due to the lack of
safety testing. All over the world, scientists, ordinary citizens and
farmers have raised concerns about the rush of Genetic Engineering
technologies in our food chain. While some are completely against it,
others are urging more cautious approaches. Regardless, they all want the
ability to actually determine .