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    The Differing Perspectives and the Benefits and Drawbacks of Genetically Modified Foods

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    There are many factors that influence people’s lives and the universe. Viruses, diseases, drought, insects, and other things impact crop production. In order to overcome some of these problems, scientists modified part of the genes or DNA. Genetically modified foods help people in many ways; however, many critics believe that it can also be hurtful. Genetically modified foods have contributed agriculturally by modifying the genes of the crops to become resistant to diseases (The U.S. Department of Energy Genome Program, 2008).

    This will eventually lead to more production of the crops for the growing population. However, some people disagree and many dislike genetically modified foods. “The lay public’s attitudes toward GM foods are marked by uncertainty due to unknown consequences related to human growth patterns and the environment that they associate with GM foods (Silk et al., 2003)” (as cited in Silk, Weiner, & Parrott, 2005, p. 3). Many have different opinions and perspectives on this issue, however, both pros and cons of genetically modified foods will be explained.

    Genetically modified foods are helping the economy and the lives of the people. Since the world is becoming more prone to the diseases and viruses, the environment including all the living organisms are influenced. “Genetically engineered crops are promoted because they increase the productivity and crop resistance to disease, insects, drought, or other natural pests as well as enhance taste and nutritional content (Hoban, 1995)” (as cited in Silk et al., 2005, p. 3). With this benefit, genetic engineering or genetic modification can be useful for more crop production without the diseases and viruses that certain organism or crop used to get. More agricultural production will aid in the growth of the population, because as one can clearly see, the increase in population is demanding more resources and genetically modified foods can help in producing more food for the people and the society (The U.S. Department of Energy Genome Program, 2008).

    The modification of the genes of the crops will be better for the environment, because it will lead to “Conservation of soil, water, and energy, better natural waste management, and friendly bioherbicides and bioinsecticides” (The U.S. Department of Energy Genome Program, 2008, p. 3). Another benefit other than resistance to viruses or environmental factors is its efficiency. “Many researchers also stress the successes and future of biotechnology for being more cost-effective, efficient compared with conventional breeding techniques, and advantageous to poorer nations because of the potential for increased nutrients in GM food(Datta & Bouis, 2000; Philips, 2000; Tian & DellaPenna, 2001; Vasal, 2000)” (as cited in Silk et al., 2005, p. 4).

    Even though some people support and favor the genetic modification due to its benefits in environment and the society, many disagree with genetic modification and think differently from others. The groups of the people who see the risks of the genetically modified foods are saying that it can have “potential human health impacts, including allergens, transfer of antibiotic resistance markers, and unknown effects” (The U.S. Department of Energy Genome Program, 2008, p. 3). Many people who do not know very much about the biotechnology is more concerned with ethical issue and those groups of people are being influence by the public perception of the genetic engineering (Arvanitoyannis & Krystallis, 2005).

    Also many people believe that it is a “violation of natural organisms’ intrinsic values” and think that scientists are “tampering with nature by mixing genes among species” (The U.S. Department of Energy Genome Program, 2008, p. 3). “The consumers seem to relate GM foods with the possibility of serious food and environmental threats (Hoban, 1996b; European Commission, 1997; Grunert et al., 2001; Lahteenmaki et al., 2002; Lusk et al., 2002)” (as cited in Arvanitoyannis & Krystallis, 2005, p. 2). Basically, Ethical issues, long term health impacts, food allergies, environmental threats, and other unknown effects are influencing the public to have different attitudes and views about the genetically modified foods. Also genetically modified foods do not have labeling on the products, therefore, people are moving further and further away from those foods and crops. “Labeling, in particular, has been a foucs for individuals who seek tighter regulation of GM foods” (Silk et al., 2005, p. 4).

    Because genetically modified foods do not come with labelings to inform the consumers and the people, many do not know what kind of allergens it might contain, which might be very harmful to some people who consume the food without knowing the information about it. They might have allergic reactions that will draw them apart from the genetically modified foods and impact other people’s views and perceptions about it. What the citizens of the United States think will be different from what the citizens of

    Europe or Asia think. Different countries have different government and those countries have their own beliefs and cultures they value. “In many parts of Europe, GM products are seen as “unnatural,” “unfamiliar,” and “unethical” (Frewer et al., 1998)” (as cited in Wilson, Evans, Leppard, & Syrette, 2004, p. 1). A research mentions that “European restaurants routinely post whether they use GM ingredients in their food products, making the issue a visible, everyday decision for consumers. Europeans tend to have a more cautious view of GM foods compared with Americans and also report lower trust in their food regulatory processes (Frewer & Miles, 2003)” (as cited in Silk et al., 2005, p. 7). In one study about the consumers’ attitudes toward the genetically modified foods in Greece, the researchers pointed out that benefits of the genetically modified foods are not strong enough to make good impressions to the people.

    The consumers believe that bad things happen with genetic engineering or during the formation of genetically modified foods. However, many are starting to think that it is now becoming part of our needs for the crop production and that is is unavoidable. The researchers also mentioned that the perception has to do with or is related to the amount of knowledge and education the people have (Arvanitoyannis & Krystallis, 2005). In America, this would actually be the same issue. Many people are concerned with its risks of health and environment. They are also concerned about the labeling of the genetically modified foods (Arvanitoyannis & Krystallis, 2005).

    I believe that both sides of this topic have very reasonable evidences to support their argument and beliefs. Even though I cannot reside completely over one side, my opinion is that genetically modified foods are good and beneficial for the people these days and for the future. New forms of bacteria are evolving to become more strong and harmful viruses that affect the people’s health as organisms and the environment. The population is growing very rapidly around the world, especially in the developing countries. Genetically modified foods can help in aiding more crop production and providing more resources for the people. It can also be very helpful in preventing the extinction of certain crop species that become prone to the viruses. In Hawaii around 1980s, the papayas were getting Papaya Ringspot Viruses.

    However, by using genetic engineering, scientists were able to alter the genes of the papayas to make it become resistant to that virus. Therefore, the farmers did not have to worry about their crops or papayas getting the virus or papayas becoming extinct. The papayas that are produced today are genetically modified which is resistant to the Papaya Ringspot Virus (GMO Compass, 2006). Without genetic engineering, the papayas that are available today might have been gone long time ago. It might be extinct by now, because the Ringspot Virus probably spread very quickly. Many people might think that scientists are interfering with nature and its ethical values. However, if they did not approach the problem with genetic engineering or genetic modification, a lot of the goods that are available today will not be here. Examples like this can show and inform the public about the benefits of genetic engineering and its usage. Therefore, my opinion is that genetic engineering can be very useful in times that put certain species in great danger.

    Also, it can benefit the public in many ways by producing more crops and resources for the people around the world due to the population growth. However, genetically modified foods should have labels to inform the people, because everyone has a right to know what they are eating and every individual is part of this universe.

    Among the many controversial topics, genetically modified foods were discussed. There are both positive and negative sides and one can find ongoing debates on these issues. Many people have different opinions and different thoughts on specific issue and everyone respects that. Genetically modified foods have its pros in many ways, but its cons are found very easily. pros or the benefits of the genetically modified foods were that by modifying the gene, the crops can become resistant to the diseases and viruses, thus increasing more crop yields. More soil and water will be conserved and the farmers will not have to use as much herbicides or

    The insecticides as they used to use, because the crops can be pest resistant as well. However, the risks conveying this topic is that the scientists do not know the long term effect on the human health and the environment. Many believe that it is unethical to modify the genes of the crops to meet the society’s needs or expectations. Some people are allergic to certain ingredients of the genetically modified foods and most of the genetically modified foods do not have labeling on them which make it more dangerous for the consumers. However, my thought is that genetic engineering is very beneficial for the people in many areas other than crop production.

    The world will become more and more infested with new forms of bacteria, viruses, diseases, pests, and other environmental factors that will influence the organisms in this universe. Therefore, my belief is that genetically modified foods will become more popular and more accepted in the future. Despite my feelings toward the genetic modification, scientists still needs to have the original form of DNA or species of the certain crops that are being modified, because if this genetic modification continues, the original DNA will not be available anymore.

    The scientists should only use genetic engineering when necessary and the consumers should have the right to see the labeling of the genetically modified foods. If the scientists and the people of this society cooperate and work together to discuss about genetically modified foods and share opinions and expectations, then many people will be able to think more positively about genetically modified foods and the scientists will be able to understand the public’s thoughts to improve their work.

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