Before people start considering supporting or taking part in the production, sale, and use of the GM (Genetically Modified) foods, it is important that their disadvantages and advantages are identified and known. That is to mean; it is important to study and create awareness about the safety issues the GM foods (Ozkok, 356). Since the GM foods are made by introducing genes from other plant species into their DNA, they are not naturally occurring plants and animals; hence, error in research can lead to the omission that would make them dangerous health wise. Even though this technology is applied in both plants and animals, it is more commonly used in the production of plants than in animal production (Bawa and Anilakumar, 1041). Advancement of research in the production of these foods has led to the development of foods aimed at alleviation of certain disorders and diseases. However, despite the efforts of the manufacturers to major in the advantages of GM foods, a big percent of the population is opposed to technology and ideas. Advocates for Genetically Modified Foods may argue that it is necessary to sustain our plant and Population fifty years in the future, people should think this through because supplying the world with Genetically Modified Foods come at a high price to pay.
History of food production
In the year 1946, scientists discovered the possibility of DNA transfer from one organism to another (Bawa and Anilakumar, 1038). This led to the discovery of several DNA transfer mechanisms that occur in large scale naturally. For instance, the resistance in pathogenic bacteria is considered a natural DNA transfer mechanism. In the year 1883, the first genetically modified plant was produced. This was achieved by the use of a tobacco plant, which was resistant to the antibiotic. China became the first country to commercialize transgenic crops when they introduced a tobacco plant, which was resistant to the virus in the early 1990s (Bawa and Anilakumar, 1039). FDA (Food and Drug Administration) later approved the transgenic "Flavor Saver" tomato to be sold in the United States of America in the year 1994 (Bawa and Anilakumar, 1035). The modification in the tomato was meant to delay ripening after picking. In the year 1995, other transgenic crops were approved for the market. Such crops included Bacillus thuringiansis (maize/corn), canola with oil composition modification, bromoxynil-resistant cotton plant, Monsanto (Bt cotton and Bt potatoes), glyphosate-resistant soybeans, virus-resistant squash, as well as additional tomatoes with delayed ripening (Peto/Zeneca, DNAP, and Monsanto). Currently, almost every country in the world is aware of GM foods, approve, and invest in them for exportation and use within the countries to improve food security.
Genetic modification is defined as a set of special gene technology aimed at improving quality through the alteration of genetic machinery of organisms such as microorganism, animals, and plants. Terms such as 'transgenic,' 'genetically engineered,' and 'genetically modified are used to describe organisms that come as a result of a combination of genes from different organisms by the use of recombinant DNA technology (Ozkok, 356). Currently, the most commonly grown transgenic crops for commercial purposes in the field include insecticide and herbicide-resistant canola, corn, soybeans, and cotton. Others crops that are also grown for commercial purposes include virus-resistant sweet potatoes, rice with increased vitamins and ion, as well as several other plants that are designed to survive extreme weather conditions.
The major reason for supporting genetically modified foods is to respond to the rapidly increasing world population with limited resources that can help in food production naturally. Countries such as China and the United States of America were the pioneer countries in developing, approving and using the GM foods as a way of ensuring that they fed their population effectively (Bawa and Anilakumar, 1044). Some of the properties of GM foods that make them suited for combating food security in countries include survival in extreme weather conditions, fast maturity, delayed rotting, and increased the ability to produce and reproduce. In as much as traditional farming lead to the production of healthy and naturally occurring foods, it cannot meet the food demands by the population; this makes GM technologies acceptable in many countries.
However while advocates of GM foods believe that such foods are necessary for the planet's future, there is the downside of the science people must consider. The biggest threat posed by supporting GM foods is that they can lead to unidentified, negative health implication on the population (Ozkok, 356). Some people believe that consumption of some of the foods may lead to the development of diseases, which are immune to the antibiotics hence becoming difficult to manage or treat. Since the GM foods are new inventions, people do not know much about them, especially concerning the possible long-term health, economic and environmental effects (Bawa and Anilakumar, 1040). For instance, since many people do not know the effects, they prefer staying away from GM foods.
It is believed that the manufacturers fail to indicate on the labels that the foods are genetically modified, as this will make many people avoid them in the market. One of the financial implications of the GM foods in the market is that they are generally cheaper than the naturally grown food products; this encourages people to spend a lot of money on such products at the end of the day. In as much as it reduces the cost of food and allows people to invest the money they save on food in other things, the health implications still make it an expensive venture to the population. Besides, the unfair competition brought about by the cheap GM foods in the market where naturally grown foods are expensive affect business for farmers. Farmers lose money as their products rot in the market as people run to acquire cheap GM foods (Nep and O'Doherty, 520).
It is also important to consider the fact that many cultural and religious communities are opposed to the use of GM foods as they claim it is an unnatural way of food production. Many people are also opposed to the technology that allows the transfer of plant genes into animals and vice versa (Brookes and Barfoot, 166). Apart from the financial, social, and religious issues attached to GM food production and use, environmentally, there are also concerns that need to be addressed. For instance, the method used in cross-pollination can affect the natural occurrence of certain organisms and microorganisms in nature, which are important for the quality of the environment (Brookes and Barfoot, 176). Growing GM plants introduce foreign microorganisms, chemicals, and organisms that affect the natural ecological niche; this may lead to the loss of soil fertility. Some of the supposed health risks of GM foods are associated with allergens, toxins, and genetic hazards.
The food hazards can be categorized into three forms; the pleiotropic and secondary effects of gene expression, inserted genes, and the products they express in, and gene integration causing insertional mutagenesis (Nep and O'Doherty, 516). In reference to the inserted gene, which is in the second category, the transferred gene is not the one associated with the health risk; rather, what poses a health risk is the gene expression and effects caused by the resultant gene product. Besides, unpredictable allergic effects can result from new proteins synthesized in GM plants (Brookes and Barfoot, 158). One of the ways that the health impacts of GM foods have been suppressed is through continuous research aimed at addressing the concerns. The fact that the issue of GM foods is left open for debates and raising of concerns has played a big role in creating opportunities for revealing the possible harmful effects and using technology to reduce them.
Education on Resolutions
One of the ways that the effects of GM foods can be reduced is through supporting food education. People should be educated on the differences between GM foods and the foods from plants and animals whose genetic make-ups are not altered. It is important that people know the health benefits of healthy eating, as this is the first step towards appreciating the need to know what people eat (Nep and O'Doherty, 511). A breakdown of the possible health effects of GM foods can help people to choose between over-dependence on such foods and increased consumption of natural foods. Education on food should also be aimed towards encouraging farmers to venture into organic farming so that the cost of natural foods can reduce (Brookes and Barfoot, 158). This is possible as the increased supply of organically produced foods in the market reduces their prices and results in an increased rate of consumption of the same.
When the government supports farmers to venture into organic farming, there will be a reduced compulsion to depend on GM foods as a resort to solving food security issues. One of the ways that the government can support farmers is through reducing the cost of seeds and other inputs used in the production of organic foods. Supporting inorganic farming that does not include genetic modification of plants and animal species can increase food supply and reduce overdependence on GM foods (Brookes and Barfoot, 189). Again, when corporate societies are given the opportunity of being the leading suppliers of foodstuffs; the supply of GM foods will be uncontrollable in the market. It is therefore important that cooperate hold on food supply be broken to give other suppliers the chance to bring foods which are not genetically modified to the consumers.
Genetically Modified foods may very well be the key to solving our vast growing population, but it is the price to pay that matters. It is important that a lot of research is supported in the food industry to ensure that what people eat is healthy and the processes used in producing them do not lead to harmful effects on the environment. If care is not taken, then the effects of GM foods will increase in fifty years to a level that they will not be easily controllable. However, if research is supported in identifying and correcting the imminent dangers of GM food consumption, then more people will support such foods. As a result, GM foods may completely replace the naturally produced foods in the market in fifty years.
Bawa, A. S., and K. R. Anilakumar. "Genetically Modified Foods: Safety, Risks, and Public Concerns-A Review." Journal of Food Science and Technology, vol. 50, no. 6, 2012, pp. 1035-1046. Springer Nature, doi:10.1007/s13197-012-0899-1. Accessed 8 February 2019.
Brookes, Graham, and Peter Barfoot. "Farm Income and Production Impacts of using GM Crop Technology 1996-2015". GM Crops & Food, vol. 8, no. 3, 2017, pp. 156-193. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/21645698.2017.1317919. Accessed 8 February 2019.
Nep, Shauna, and Kieran O'Doherty. "Understanding Public Calls For Labeling Of Genetically Modified Foods: Analysis Of A Public Deliberation On Genetically Modified Salmon." Society & Natural Resources, vol. 26, no. 5, 2013, pp. 506-521. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/08941920.2012.716904. Accessed 8 February 2019.
Ozkok, Gulcin Algan. "Genetically Modified Foods and the Probable Risks on Human Health." International Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences, vol. 4, no. 3, 2015, p. 356. Science Publishing Group, doi:10.11648/j.ijnfs.20150403.23. Accessed 8 February 2019.
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