Genetically Modified Food: Critics and Controversies

Following the increased debate on genetically modified foods, I have developed a keen interest to establish whether this could be a better solution to the global food crisis that continues to increase with the increase in the world’s population. In my study, I look at the introduction of genetically modified foods into the market clearly outlining some of the important concerns that lead to their development. I look at some of the benefits that have been derived from the process as well as some of the perceived challenges that come with genetically modified foods. I will use the works of various writers to explain this new technology and support the Idea that, indeed genetically modified foods, though with a few challenges, are the best way to tackle the current world food crisis and improve human health status. The essay concludes by recommending that more research should be done on genetically modified foods to end the controversies concerning such foods.

Introduction

Genetically modified foods can be described as foods that are grown from genetically modified plants. This is usually done through a process known as genetic engineering. This process involves alterations in the genetic composition of the plant’s DNA to cause influence its normal growth procedures. Genetically modified foods were introduced in the market in the early 90s for the first time. The main reason why this process was developed was to try and create or come up with crops that were more resistant to diseases and would yield more produce. This has since changed. Owners of the processes of genetically modified food argue that the product comes with much more benefits than just crop protection. There are greater benefits associated with genetically modified foods; they are said to be of a higher nutritional value than traditional foods. Genetically modified foods are also cheap. This is about the time they take to grow and the nutrients required in supporting their growth. This has been achieved by introducing new genes to the old variety to induce resistance to pests, viruses, and herbicides (Fagan, 55).

Discussion

This being a new technology it has had its share of challenges just like any other new technology. Several scientists have given the reasons why genetically modified foods form a major part in solving the food insecurity issue worldwide. Paul Arnold (2009) in his article, Pros, and cons of genetic engineering’’, has outlined the reasons why this technology will help in addressing the food insufficiency experienced in most developing countries. In his article, he highlighted some of the desirable features of genetically modified foods including fast maturity, high yielding, pest resistance, highly nutritious, drought-resistant, having a good flavor, and are durable and can as well be used as a cheap source of medicine. All these are characteristics that most conventional foods lack. Marian (2010), in the article Buzzle.Com, on the advantages of modified foods, further gives the pros of genetically modified foods. She argues that modified foods have influenced the environment positively in several ways including the production of bioinsecticides and bioherbicides that helped in the conservation of energy, soil, and water and this technology has also made it possible for better processing and management of natural waste. She continues to argue that genetically modified animals show better production in terms of milk and eggs and meat. The meat from such animals is of high quality as compared to the meat from conventional animals. The document produced by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace in August 2003, indicated its support for the program, the statement revealed that the council saw the production of genetically modified food as the only realistic solution to the issue of food insecurity and in particular in developing countries (Paul A. P.1-4)

The next Newsletter continues to give the advantages of genetically modified foods. In the article, genetically modified foods are illustrated as being superior to conventional foods in that they are generally nutritious since the source has been upgraded by mixing genes of high quality, the products are also resistant to herbs and pests, and they are fast maturing despite the above advantages of genetically modified foods, several people are worried on the risks that these foods pose to human beings. (BioNexXT Newsletter.p1-4)

Critics

Genetic engineering has not gone without critics and controversies. Cardinal Gaudecio Rosales is one of the critics of genetically modified foods. According to AsiaNews., cardinal Rosales is reported to have sent a letter to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Philippine president, urging her to halt the sale of genetically modified rice since it poses health hazards to the people. He claimed that both the local and international scientists have warned against the use of genetically modified foods since there are health concerns related to these foods. In the article Buzzle.com, Marian (2010), also describes the cons of genetically modified foods. She argues that genetically modified foods create allergens and as result can be harmful to the person. She also claims that the technology raises questions on the moral dilemma since it seems like competing with God’s plan by integrating genes from different species and interfering with nature. According to my, this creates a lot of objection from society and especially amongst the Christians. She continues to argue that genetic engineering could negatively influence the environment since genes can be transferred to unintended targets thus damaging the organism attacked. (Marian K. p.1)

Negative aspects

The presence of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) in these foods has been the backbone of the many side effects associated with genetically modified foods. According to the article on life-threatening food from the CBS EVENING NEWS, a lady by the name of Grace Booth felt sick after consuming genetically modified corn products. Grace was detected to have developed an allergy from the food she consumed. The disorder further resulted in diarrhea and abdominal pain skin rashes, conditions that can lead to death. From the report, I can confidently say that genetically modified food poses a lot of risks to the health of consumers. From the book Seed of Deception’’, in addition to allergenic reactions, genetically modified foods also result in toxicity as indicated by the damage, extreme and unusual cell enlargement in the small intestine of mouse study, rats fed on modified corn for ninety days also showed toxicity in the kidneys and the liver, a farmer from German claimed that 12 of his cows died because of consuming genetically modified corn and around twenty farmers from Northern America reported abnormalities in their pigs upon feeding them with a variety of genetically modified corn varieties (CBS EVENING NEWS p.3)

Conclusion

There are both pros and cons to genetically modified foods. This has raised a lot of controversy between those who care for and those who are against the technology. This to me means one should be guided by his/her conscience concerning genetically modified foods. Though technology improves food production, it also has so many disadvantages to the health of both the consumer and the environment. Genetically modified foods therefore still need a lot of research to bring the two sides together.

Works Cited

Paul Arnold p.1.Pro and Cons of Genetic Engineering 2007’

AsianNews.it.p.1. Stop US GM food, says Cardinal Rosales.

BioNexXT Newsletter.p1-4.Biotechnology the solution to food 2004. Web.

CBS Evening News p.3. Life-Threatening Food? 2001. Web.

Fagan, John. Genetic Engineering: The Hazards. Vedic Engineering, the Solutions. Maharishi University. 1995.

Jeffrey M. p.1. Plant-Incorporated Protectants; Potential Revisions to Current Production Regulations. 2007. Web.

Marian K..P.1. Genetically Modified Foods: Advantages and Dangers 2010. Web.