Genetically Modified Crops

Topics: Genetically modified food, Genetically modified organism, Bacillus thuringiensis Pages: 38 (14540 words) Published: November 10, 2012
Essay 3 - Argumentative Essay
Genetically modified food should be strictly controlled due to its various detrimental effects on the environment as well as human health. Every time we go to supermarkets or any grocery stores, we would not know whether the vegetables, fruits or even meats being sold are genetically modified. To make this situation worse, most consumers do not pay much attention to what they are eating, when they are actually devouring genetically engineered food. Despite of this ignorance, more and more people, including researchers, are becoming aware of the impacts of genetically modified food, and debate over the issue of whether genetic engineering should be stopped from modifying organisms has never ceased. According to a statistic from Institute for Responsible Technology (2007), 91% of soy, 85% of corn, and 80% of canola sold in the U.S. are genetically modified. In fact, analysts estimate that 60% to 75% of processed food commonly found in supermarkets and restaurants are genetically engineered. Although genetic engineering technology in agriculture can help increase crops production, reduce environment pollution, increase the amount of nutrients in food, create pharmaceutical products, and slow down ripening process of plants, genetically modified food should be strictly controlled because it would create herbicide-resistant superweeds, cause genetic pollution, induce allergic responses, post risks to human's health and have negative impact on other wild species. What exactly is genetically modified or engineered food? In molecular biology, genetic engineering is defined as "the direct manipulation of genes for practical purposes" (Campbell & Reece, 2005, p. 384). In other words, genetically modified organisms have specific changes in their own genome, mainly by the process of introducing foreign genes or DNA into the cells. Organisms that have been genetically engineered are scientifically called as "transgenic organisms", which are more commonly known as "genetically modified organisms" (Karp, 2008, p. 770). Advocates of genetically modified food claim that genetic engineering could decrease the rate of environmental pollution by reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides (Cookson, 2008). However, there is no reliable evidence proving that the rate of pollution has actually decreased since the introduction of genetically modified crops. Instead, it is shown that they have the potential to instigate pollution of the environment. For example, the introduction of genetically engineered crops that tolerate herbicides such as Roundup-Ready soybeans produced by Monsanto would actually increase pollution (Halford, 2003). This is due to the fact that farmers would spray larger amounts of herbicides and pesticides to kill weeds and pests, since they know that their crops would not be harmed by the chemical substances. As a result, genetic engineering in agriculture does not actually help reduce environmental pollution as my opponents claim; instead, it helps to increase pollution of the environment. According to my advocates of genetic engineering, crops can be genetically modified to carry various important vitamins or nutrients which are beneficial to human health, solving the issue of nutrient deficiency in poor countries. They claim that, for instance, Golden Rice, which is a type of genetically modified rice containing Vitamin A, could solve shortage of this important dietary vitamin in various poor countries. However, Halford's (2003) study shows that an adult would have to devour at least 700g of dry rice, which is two times the normal intake of 300g, to get the daily optimum amount of Vitamin A. This means that poor people would have to consume as twice the amount of rice as much a normal person would, and this is ambiguous and ironic since they would not have the ability to acquire large amount of rice. Hence, genetically modified food like Golden Rice does not really solve the...
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