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Genetically Modified Food Essay

Genetically engineered food is an epidemic all around the world. There are factors that make these types of foods undesirable for many reasons. Public opinions on how genetically engineered foods will effect the consumer market and farmers cannot afford the new seeds that are genetically altered. There are many cons of genetically engineered food that have long term and short term risks. Some risks have been found by scientists while other risks are still unknown and will remain so unless a researcher tests for them. These foods have become very common in America as well as other countries.

Almost every grocery store in the United States carries a wide array of food that has been genetically modified. Most of the genetically engineered foods in markets are not labeled to tell consumers they were altered in any way. Environmental risks are also a concern for genetically engineered food. Different animals, including farm animals or insects can be harmed from genetically engineered food. Genetically engineered food has negative effects on the human population. Genetically engineered food was first introduced into society in the early 1990’s.

Many people today do not know what kind of extensive research and development goes into making these types of foods. Sharon Palmer, a reporter, writes that genetic engineering is either “Doomsday tech” or “biotechnology for the future” (Palmer 1). The process of altering an organism completely changes the original organism and transforms it into something new. This new way of altering an organism’s genetic makeup bypasses common breeding methods used by scientists (Genetically Modified Foods 1).

The process of creating genetically altered food usually involves “identifying the genes governing a desirable characteristic in one organism, nd inserting them into another in the expectation that the trait will be transferred” (Genetically Modified Foods 1). Sometimes the process of creating these organisms does not work so scientists have to do the process over again until they get a transformed organism. In 1973 scientists were able to achieve using another organism as a vector which essentially was the beginning of the development of genetically engineered foods. Although genetically engineered foods were not fully introduced until the early 1990s, they were in the process of becoming what society knows today.

Newer techniques have been introduced that make it easier for gene insertion. This new method is the use of DNA bullets where “microscopic metal beads can be coated with DNA fragments, and then “fired” from a miniature gun into the host cell, where DNA may integrate into the genome” (Genetically Modified Foods 1). A few of the genetically engineered foods are soybeans, corn, canola, cotton, squash and papaya (Palmer 1). There are many other foods that people see on the shelves in grocery stores that may be genetically altered but these are some main ones. Statistics show that “an estimated 70 to 75 percent of all processed foods in U. S. rocery stores probably contain ingredients from GE plants” (Palmer 6). Many foods have been genetically altered to make them “better” or resistant to herbicides. Despite the fact that scientists consider these foods to be revolutionary there are hidden consequences to the development of such organisms. The public opinion on genetically engineered food is that it is not a good improvement. Many citizens believe that the introduction of altered foods is going to have negative side effects on everything. People feel that genetically engineered foods should not be put on the market until they have had adequate testing (Current Issues 3).

Many of the alterations done to food have not had extensive research conducted to find harmful effects that they might have on humans and animals. Any research that had been done usually had negative effects but scientists found a way to “throw out” the research so that it would not go against genetically engineered food. Andrew Simms states that the “evidence of harm is not evidence of the absence of harm” (Simms 1). In Simm’s article he describes how consumers do not need genetically modified food. Scientists brought genetically engineered foods into the market and advertised them as a way to help the world.

Different techniques can be used to approach the issue of world hunger. Introducing these foods to third world countries can only harm them not help them. There is a high cost of development for making genetically engineered foods. Also there is a monopoly involved with these foods. There are only a few corporations in the United States that are developing genetically altered seeds. This in turn drives up the price of the seed making it more expensive and poor farmers cannot afford to buy them (Current Issues 3). Farmers have lost billions of dollars because foreign buyers do not want to buy genetically engineered foods (Kupfer 1).

Many states have passed legislation against having genetically modified foods. States do not think that genetically engineered foods can help anything except make things worse (Kupfer 2). Foods are altered to have different traits that would normally take a few generations to make but with genetically engineering their DNA scientists are able to do a lot more. Scientist use genetic engineering to make crops or animals drought tolerant and be able to tolerate pests. Consumers do not want crops that are mutations. They want natural crops and animals.

Other public opinions on worldwide hunger are that GM crops will not change it. “People go hungry because they’re either poor, powerless, both, or have no land to grow food on” (Simms 2). Public opinion on genetically engineered food is that they do not want it. Many factors have led people to choose not to accept genetically engineered foods into their lives. Genetically engineered food effects everything in a negative way. There are cons to the development and introduction of genetically engineered foods into civilization. There are many risks involved with these types of foods that are unknown to the public.

Scientists try to cover up the experiments they had on genetically altered foods because they had negative outcomes. In one study scientists fed corn to rats and then checked the rats’ livers and kidneys, particularly males, and the study revealed adverse effects. In another study conducted on GM foods many of the mice that ate the food developed health problems or even died during the experiment (Current Issues 4). The introduction of genetically engineered foods has been linked to the rising levels of food allergies in the United States. Genetically modified foods can effect organic foods if they are processed in the same place.

Allergic reactions are greater since genetically engineered foods have been introduced (Smith 1). There are many environmental concerns as well. Although long term impact is unknown many researchers can conclude some of the negative side effects. A few difficulties have already developed. Plants can cross-pollinate with other plants around them which may seem like a great thing but it is not. Some plants are engineered to be pest resistant which seems good but in all actuality those plants can cross-pollinate with the weeds around them which in turn makes the weeds stronger and become more resistant to herbicides.

The cross-pollination of plants creates a problem for farmers who then have to spend additional money to buy more herbicide to kill new weeds (Current Issues 3). Another common modification is adding a gene called Bacillus thuringiensis which is a bacterium that helps that plant develop poison that kills pests such as bollworms and stem borers. This seemed like a good modification by scientists but in fact the plant emits these toxins into the environment and it is deadly to all insects, not just the pests. Reports have been shown that these toxins from the crops also killed a large amount of butterflies (Current Issues 1).

U. S. Government does not require reviews on genetically engineered foods. Genetically altered foods are not FDA regulated either. Foods are being modified without having adequate testing and then put on grocery shelves. People are eating food that they do not know whether or not it is safe. There are many other potential concerns with genetic engineering like an organisms genetic makeup, anti-nutrients, viral DNA, antibiotic resistant genes, absorbing genes, and allergic responses. Many genetically altered foods have been used as feed for animals as well.

These animals have shown effects on body growth, changes in blood, kidney, pancreas, liver, erosion and necrosis of the gastrointestinal tract, and alterations in reproduction, development and mortality (Palmer 6). There are many unknown risks of genetically engineered foods. Unknown long term health risks have not been identified and cannot be identified until researchers conduct more research. Genetically modified foods are not something people should rely on in the future as their base food. There are risks today and also many other unknown risks. Genetically engineered food is a hazard to the human population.

This creation was introduced to try and stop world hunger, make food cheaper to buy and many other reasons. These issues have not changed because of the introduction of genetically engineered food. The effects these types of foods have on humans and even animals can be harmful. Research shows that there are long term risks involved with genetically engineered foods. Potential cancers, diseases, environmental changes, and possibly a rising cost in food are all negative factors of genetically engineered food. Genetically engineered foods should be eliminated from people and animal’s diets.


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