Genetically Modified Food. The way to go?
Genetically Modified Foods also known as Biotech Foods are derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). They differ from traditional foods in that their DNA have been introduced to genetic engineering techniques to enhance desired traits such as improved nutritional content and much more. Over 40 plant varieties have federal requirements for commercialization as GMOs. It all started in 1946, when scientists discovered DNA transfer between organisms. The first genetically modified plant was produced in 1983 and now 165 million acres annually are grown. However, along with rapid adoption of technology have come myths ...view middle of the document...
Growing GM foods such as Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) corn can help eliminate the application of chemical pesticides and reduce the cost of bringing a crop to market (Mandelsohn et al. 2003).
Carson says that a variety of alternatives to chemical control of insects is available. The solutions are biologically based on the understanding of the living organisms they seek to control and the whole fabric of life to which the organisms belong. (Carson 1962) Farmers often spray large quantities of herbicides to destroy weeds, which is time consuming, expensive and requires a lot of care. Crop plants genetically engineered to be resistant to herbs could prevent environmental damage by reducing the amount of herbicides needed.
As population grows and more land being utilized for housing, farmers will need to grow crops in areas unsuited for plant cultivation. Creating plants that can withstand drought or high salt content will help people to grow crops in formally inhospitable areas. (Nature, August 2001) Malnutrition is common in third world countries where impoverished peoples rely on a single crop such as rice for the main staple of their diet. If rice could be genetically engineered to contain additional vitamins and minerals, nutrient deficiencies can be alleviated.
Medicines and vaccines are costly to produce and require storage conditions that might not be available. Researchers are working to develop edible vaccines in tomatoes and potatoes. These vaccines will be much easier to ship, store and administer than traditional injectable vaccines.
There are criticisms against GM foods that are based on risks that they cause. Nature published a laboratory study showing unintended harm by GM crops to other organisms. Pollen from B.t. corn caused high mortality rates in monarch butterfly caterpillar (Nature, May 1999). There is concern that insects will become resistance to GM crops that will eventually reduce the effectiveness of pesticides in them. Gene transfer to non-target species such as plants engineered for herbicide tolerance and weeds crossbreed may transfer the resistance genes from the crops into the weeds. These weeds would also become herbicide tolerant. Other genes may cross over into non-modified crops planted next to GM crops. (Nature, April 1998)
Human health risk is a major concern. Introducing a gene into a plant may create a new allergen or cause an allergic reaction in individuals. A study examining effects of GM potatoes on the...