Franken Food

Topics: Genetically modified food, Genetic engineering, Genetically modified organism Pages: 5 (1585 words) Published: April 10, 2014
Every time we go to the supermarket or any grocery store, we are not able to distinguish what vegetables, fruits or even meats that are genetically modified. To make this situation worse, most consumers do not pay much attention to what they are eating, when they are actually ingesting 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 is an ongoing issue. According to Dianne Smith, “In the past 20 years genetically modified foods have been introduced into the food market, many people have little or no knowledge about the potential risks of genetically modified organisms” (2012 Smith:36). 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 could create herbicide-resistant super weeds, endanger pollinating insects, induce allergic responses, and post risks to human's health. What are genetically modified organisms? Genetic modification, defined by Robin Mather, is the manipulation of DNA by humans to change the essential makeup of plants and animals. The technology inserts genetic material from one species into another to give it a new quality, such as the ability to produce its own pesticide, or to increase the growth rate (2012 Mather). There is a lot of hype about the benefits of genetic engineering; more resistance to environmental factors such as insects and unpredictable weather, reducing environmental damage, and inserting nutrients and other additives to increase nutritional value. In 2000, the commissioner of the FDA, Jane Henney, was interviewed about the role of GMOs in the food industry. Her views about the use of biotechnology were positive. She explains that bioengineering a plant involves inserting a specific gene into a plant to give it a new characteristic instead of mixing all the genes from two plants and seeing what comes out. Transgenic Bt genes have been used for decades to be transplanted into crops such corn and cotton and Henney explains that corn is inserted with the gene, Bacillus thurigiensis, usually referred to as Bt, that makes the plant produce a lethal protein to caterpillars that destroy the corn plants (2000 Thompson:18). Although this gene is aimed to kill pests, an important pollinator that is under the danger of genetic engineering is the honeybee. The purpose of this DNA modification is to control pollinators that damage farm crop, such as the caterpillar. John McDonald, a beekeeper from Pennsylvania, found out that the unnaturally amount of disappearing honeybees, a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder, might be linked to the Bt variants crops (2007 McDonald). This disruption to the pollination system could cause severe effects on the biological chain if research and studies are not required by government to ensure safety of the honey bees. Due to honey bees and other pollinating insects, another potential problem is the cross pollination of the herbicide resistant genes with weeds. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weed killer, sold by Monsanto, is RoundUp, and is the most widely used herbicide in the United States, but some plants have grown resistant to it (2012 Science Daily). Super weeds could potentially harm the food supply and slow the production of food and could lead to a massive destabilization of food crops around the world. Plants and living organisms are not the only things being affected by biotechnology. Even though biotechnology has opened up new discoveries of drought, pest, and stress resistant seeds along with chemicals to aid in crop production, the environment is...
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