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Genetically Modified Food In Canada Essay

1588 words - 6 pages

A trip to any supermarket in Canada will reveal nothing out of ordinary, just the usual of array of fresh and packaged goods displayed in an inviting manner to attract customers. Everything appear familiar and reassuring, right? Think again. A closer microscopic inspection discloses something novel, a fundamental revolution in food technology. The technology is genetic engineering (GE), also known as biotechnology. Blue prints (DNA) of agricultural crops are altered and “spliced” with foreign genes to produce transgenic crops. Foods harvested from these agricultural plants are called, genetically modified (GM). Presently, Canada has no consumer notification; GM foods are being slipped to Canada’s foods without any labels or adequate risk assessments. This essay argues that GM foods should be rigorously and independently tested for safety; and, consumers be given the right to choose or reject GM foods through mandatory labels. What is the need for impartial examination of safety of transgenic foods? And why label them? GM foods are not “substantially equivalent” to conventional foods, genetic engineering of agricultural crops is not a mere extension of traditional plant breeding, and finally, there are human health implications associated with it.
Modern biotechnology was born at the hands of American scientists Herb Boyer and Stain Cohen, when they developed “recombinant deoxyribonucleotide, (rDNA), [1] for medicinal purposes. Subsequently, biotechnologists started genetically engineering agricultural plants using this technology. A single gene responsible for a certain trait, from one organism (usually a bacterium) is selected altered and then ‘spliced” into the DNA of a plant to create an agricultural crop consisting of that desired trait. Presently, biotech corporations such as Monsanto Canada, AgrEvo Canada, and Pioneer Hi-Bred Int’l produce varieties of agricultural plants conferring resistance to herbicide, insects, disease and droughts. There is an abundance of GM foods varieties in Canadian market: assortments of corns, soybeans, canola, potatoes and tomatoes. In addition about sixty percent of processed foods are laced with GM materials [2].
The driving factor behind plant biotechnology is “social constructionism”, in which “social values and institutional domains and their culture shape technology” [Goyder chapter 10]. Bioengineering companies might declare social needs as the motive behind pursuing this technology. In reality, these capitalist institutions possess the much needed economic surplus to invest serve their own desires. The social needs they “intend” to solve are: world food shortage, increase agricultural productivity, help the environment by eliminating pesticides, improve nutrition of foods. Opponents of biotechnology, scientists, consumer advocates, environmental protection agencies, do not buy this claim. According to them, these reasons are just the pretence to fulfil “...capitalist’s profit-making via the...

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