Genetically Modified Organisms in Food
Tomatoes, soy beans and McDonald’s French fries- what all of these things have in common? They are all some of the most commonly genetically modified foods on the market today. With scientists in the race to invent newer and better everythings, genetically modified organisms, or “GMOs” have become a hot topic of research in just the past 10 years. By using the genetic information from one organism, or the “DNA” and splicing it with the DNA of another, scientists can make food crops grow bigger, stay fresh longer, or even create their own pesticides. In this case however, and often with any case involving genetic modification, the technology has exceeded the practicality of this innovation. Genetically modified foods have no place in everyday agriculture because of the threat they pose to humans, the environment, and the future of traditional agriculture.
Plants have been genetically manipulated for thousands of years. Even in the earliest cases of civilized agriculture, people saved seeds of high yielding crops to replant each season (Shannon 1999). Lately, however, with genetic engineering being the hottest and most controversial side of science, many companies such as biotech are now tampering with food crops to get results that the early farmers could have never imagined.
This seems to be scientific child’s play in comparison to all of the recent media attention the cloning of sheep and even human cloning has received. Much of this genetic experimentation with the cloning of mammals and similar species can be linked to a high stakes game of chicken, where scientists are trying to do more and more daring things before people actually take the final step and clone a human. Likewise there are no real demands for genetically modified foods, but their supporters keep manufacturing and experimenting with new food ideas to make more efficient what nature had already designed.
Among the list of foods genetically created is a product from the Biotech Corporation; A modified tomato called the “FLAVR SAVR”, and in theory this sounds like marvelous invention. It is larger, better tasting, and stays fresh longer than commercial tomatoes on the market. How did they do it? The FLAVR SAVR tomato was created by combining conventional tomato genes with genes of an arctic trout. This was no natural or logical combination of genes and certainly presents a lot of complication when arriving to the market. Will people with a sea food allergy be able to eat the FLAVR SAVR? Would these new trout genes allow new types of bacteria to form on the tomatoes making them especially hazardous to eat? With so many new attributes introduced through this new DNA it is difficult to know the potential side effects from these new foods. For centuries now farmers have been able to cross breed various strains of sweet corn to make it grow even sweeter, or to make potatoes grow bigger, but mixing tomatoes and fish is a match that...