Throughout history, scientific research and the exploration of new technologies have always been areas of extreme controversy and heated debate. This can be primarily attributed to the fact that they touch upon and affect many aspects of people’s lives, not to mention their direct interference with political, social and religious matters. One of the latest and most ferociously debated technologies, that the scientific community has offered humanity, is the technology of Genetically Modified Organisms and in particular genetically modified foods.
A Genetically Modified food is crop plant modified in a laboratory using molecular biology techniques with the goal of producing an organism with specific traits for various reasons. It is therefore only logical, given its nature that such a practice would both raise some serious ethical and moral questions as well as propose very viable solutions to chronic problems the world faces today. An area in which Genetically Modified Organisms are relatively prevalent is agriculture. Genetically Modified foods are created to serve the purpose of creating a crop plant for animal or plant utilization.
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According to Deborah B. Whitman, outcomes of the genetic modifications are desirable and seemingly harmless characteristics such as making the crop more pest resistant, disease resistant, herbicide resistant, or more nutritionally valuable. In addition to these advantages, this technology also has the potential to solve a very serious issue facing less developed countries; the issue of medication and pharmaceutics. Since the development and mass production of vaccination is very costly and requires a high degree of scientific advancement, many third world countries face a challenge when it comes to that aspect.
GM food researchers have the ability to potentially integrate medications and vaccines into crops, thus solving this problem. The use of these techniques can also yield more crops which can help solve food shortages. With the global population hitting almost 6 billion, many parts of the world are bound to face food shortage problems. A continent such as Africa that suffers from a constant increase in population, combined with bad soil and dreadful weather conditions could surely benefit from such technologies. GM foods would definitely help solve this continent’s plight.
There are, however, some very serious potential disadvantages. This seemingly incredible technology comes with a very serious price; the use of GM foods in mass agricultural production has the potential to present humanity with an array of consequences that can negatively affect human health, economic prosperity and the environment. Amongst the most potentially destructive effects of GM foods is its potential effect on human health. A significant part of the process relies on the introduction of certain proteins to organisms.
Some of these proteins have never been ingested previously by human making their long term effects whether they could be good or bad unknown. The intake of GM foods might also result in unexpected allergic reactions. This happens because the process of developing GM foods sometimes involves the splitting or sharing of genes between organisms. For example if there is a desirable characteristic in organism A, the gene responsible for that characteristic can be extracted or duplicated then installed in organism B , that way both organisms have that desirable quality.
The problem occurs when a person who is allergic to organism A ingests organism B (which in this case carries organism A’s gene), which then his body reacts to the newly introduced gene causing various potential harmful effects. The use of GMOs can also affect not only the organism subject to the modification but also the surrounding environment. This occurs specifically during the transfer of pollen between plants during reproduction. For example a plant that has been genetically modified to in order to be resistant to a certain pest can also harm other useful organisms that interact with it.
The use of GM foods also affects the economy, both on a global and national scale. The use of GM foods can permanently damage the economy of developing countries. That is because developing countries do not have the technology or capital to develop the GM foods technology, thus putting them in a position where they can’t globally compete with developed countries that produce more and can sell at a cheaper price. Like all newly emerging technologies, the use of GMOs in food production has been met with much opposition from different groups, which is due to the ethical questions that the use of this technology raises.
The use of GMOs does however propose solutions to some of the most pressing problems of our time, such as food shortages. It is therefore necessary and obligatory of the international community to carefully examine the long-term effects that the use of such practice might cause. This must happen before making definite judgments and decisions regarding the use of GMOs and more importantly GM foods.
[ 1 ]. Whitman, Deborah B. “Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful? ” Apr. 2000. Web. 24 Apr. 2010. .
[ 2 ]. Whitman, Deborah B. Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful? ” Apr. 2000. Web. 24 Apr. 2010. .
[ 3 ]. Whitman, Deborah B. “Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful? ” Apr. 2000. Web. 24 Apr. 2010. .
[ 4 ]. Executive Summary from the Genetically Modified Organism Exploratory Committee, https://www. macalester. edu/~montgomery/gmos2. htm
[ 5 ]. Executive Summary from the Genetically Modified Organism Exploratory Committee, https://www. macalester. edu/~montgomery/gmos2. htm
[ 6 ]. Scientific Facts on Genetically Modified Crops, https://www. greenfacts. org/en/gmo/2-genetically-modified-crops/5-gene-flow. htm
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