The Perils Of Genetically Modified Food

1407 words - 6 pages

Most things are created in a specific place and certain systems are put in place as directed by nature. In the efforts to comprehend and deal with nature, humans have invented, engineered and manipulated nature in ways that often create unforeseen results. My grandmother used to say: “Do not mess with Mother Nature”, but now that, I think about it, I realize that we do mess with nature. I should perhaps say that we must mess with nature – hard-wired to constantly engineer the environment. Humans do this in order to produce something that will be better or healthier than its original design. One example of such “messing” with nature is genetically modified foods.
Genetically modified foods also referred to as GMOs is a term used to describe crop plants designed for human or animal consumption using molecular biology techniques. These crops have been modified in a laboratory by molecular biologists in order to improve some desired characteristics such as enriched nutritional content or better resistance to herbicides. Traditionally, this development of desired characteristics has been done through breeding; however, these plant breeding methods have shown to be very time consuming and not quite accurate. On the other hand, genetic engineering creates plants with the precise desired characteristic rapidly and with great accuracy. For instance, crop genetics can separate a specific gene from a given plant that is responsible for drought tolerance and implant that gene into a different plant. Thus, the new genetically modified plant will also obtain drought tolerance. Genetic engineering of this type has its advantages and criticisms.
One of the advantages of GMOs is pest resistance. Crop losses from insect pests can be overwhelming, which will in turn result in a financial loss for farmers. Farmers often use many chemical pesticides annually. However, consumers do not wish to consume foods that have been treated with pesticides because there are potential health hazards. Growing genetically modified foods eliminates the application of chemical pesticides and reduced the cost of bringing a crop to the market. 1 Another advantage is herbicide tolerance. For some crops it is not cost-effective to remove weeds by physical means, so farmers usually spray large amounts of different herbicides to destroy weeds. This is an expensive and a time-consuming procedure that requires additional care so that the herbicide does not harm the crop plant. On the other hand, crop plants that are genetically engineered to be resistant to one powerful herbicide could stop environmental destruction by reducing the quantity of herbicides needed. A third advantage of genetically modified foods is disease resistance. There are many bacteria, fungi, and viruses that are sources of plant diseases. Many plant biologists are working to create plants with genetically engineered resistances to diseases. Finally, a fourth advantage of genetically modified foods is cold...

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