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The Controversy Over Genetically Modified Foods

2402 words - 10 pages

“The views of people with strong opinions should be given equal prominence to those with compelling scientific evidence”. Discuss with reference to media coverage of a scientific controversy.

The genetically modified food controversy

What are GMOs/GM foods and why are they controversial?

In this essay, I will uncover whether strong opinions should be given equal prominence to those with compelling scientific evidence on genetically modified organisms and ultimately, come to the conclusion whether GMOs are safe or potentially harmful for humans and the environment.

Genetically modified (GM) food is created from organisms that have had specific modifications introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. In molecular biology, genetic engineering is specified as ‘the direct manipulation of genes for practical purposes’ (Campbell & Reece, 2005: 384).

Retrospectively, organisms that have been genetically engineered are scientifically called ‘transgenic organisms’, which are more commonly known as ‘genetically modified organisms’ (Karp, 2008: 770). GM food or GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) is used to denote crop plants whose genetic material have been engineered to modify their biology or chemistry for augmented resistance to herbicides or enhanced nutritional content.

GM food has generated polemic debate amongst: governmental regulators, biotechnology companies, scientists, economic activists, environmentalists and consumers. The main areas of controversy correlated to GM food are the neutrality of scientific examination and publication, the results of GM crops on the environment and health and the role of the crops in feeding the world population.

Strong opinions of environmentalists, economic activists & religious groups:

Research and development of GMOs have been existent for over three decades; however, people have started to become more concerned with the environmental and economic issues that GMOs, for some, has become known for being rife with misinformation and suspected motivated reasoning. Biotech corporations that develop and market GE crops, Monsanto being the most prominent, promote their products as ideal solutions to nutrition, the environment and world hunger. Even though, this may well be accurate, economic activists believe that these companies trick people into trusting untruthful information for economic gain.

Most trepidation about GM foods falls into three categories: economic concerns, human health risks and environmental hazards. The shortcomings of GM foods include the subject of integrity, ethics and safety. Numerous religious groups dispute that biotechnology is the equivalent to ‘playing the role of God’ and is profoundly immoral. Believing that mixing genes and altering the DNA code is meddling with Mother Nature that could lead to adverse consequences. With objections to integrating animal genes in plants happens to cause several concerns about safety, environmental impact, health...

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