Genetically Modified Foods

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Genetically modified foods are also referred to as genetically engineered foods and are produced from organisms whose DNA has been altered by genetic engineering methods. Genetic engineering methods permit the introduction of new features and a greater control of these qualities than other methods such as mutation breeding, and selective breeding. Genetically modified organisms represent scientific farming where certain chemical substances are introduced to crops to maximize the yield and expand product sizes. Despite this method being debated, it has become increasingly more typical in today’s foods. However, genetically modified organisms have their two sides, simply like any other thing. This research paper focuses on the blessings and disadvantages of genetically modified foods basing on its impacts on the economy, the environment, and health. The most common GMO foods in the market include cantaloupe, strawberries, potatoes, and tomatoes.
Advantages of GMOs
Crop biotechnology has reduced pesticide spraying significantly by 503 million kg in 1996-2012. This equals to the amount of active pesticide ingredient used in arable crops in Europe for approximately two crop years. Therefore, it has resulted in a decrease in the environmental impacted related to the use of insecticide and herbicide on the area GMO foods are planted by 18 percent (Landrigan & Benbrook, 2015).
GMOs has several environmental benefits as it has contributed to the reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices. This is as a result of reduced additional carbon storage in the soil and less fuel usage from reduced tillage with GMOs. In 2012, GMOs contributed to the reduction of 27 billion Kg of carbon dioxide stored in the soil (Landrigan & Benbrook, 2015).
In 2012, the economic benefit of crop biotechnology at the farm level was $18.8 billion, equivalent to a $117 per hectare increase in income. GMOs help farmers to earn reasonable income for their work (Landrigan & Benbrook, 2015).
GMOs is beneficial since it has helped in improving animal studies. Currently, several studies done on animals have been linked to GM foods. These studies have helped scientists to realize that GM foods lead to reduced fertility, liver and kidney malfunction, inflammation, and altered metabolism. In a certain experiment, a generation of hamsters was fed with genetically modified and were affected adversely (Phillips, 2008).
Genetically modified organisms have some genes inserted in their genomes for them to produce better meat, eggs, and milk. These organisms are supposed to have better health and higher resistance to diseases, with best natural waste management. Theoretically, genetically modified animals and crops are believed to be more environmentally friendly since they conserve energy, soil, and water. For instance, genetically modified crops have genes that make them grow faster than non-genetically modified crops, using less water (Mathews & Campbell, 2000).
Genetically modified organisms have positive impacts on independent studies and improvements. Since the introduction of GMOs, several research and experiments have been conducted concerning their impacts on humans and the environment. These research and experiments have resulted in the improvement of science and other disciplines as it has led to discoveries. For instance, GMOs were reported to have no health effects on consumers, but recently certain studies show the potential long-term effects of GMOs on human health (Eastham & Sweet, 2002).
Disadvantages of GMOs
Research from the Organic Consumers Association indicated that some GM food products are known to cause most food allergies including wheat, peanuts, fish, milk, and eggs. The Organic Consumers Association states that proteins in GMO foods are what triggers allergic reactions. Most of the foreign proteins that are gene-spliced in foods have never been tested for their safety or been eaten before (Dospinescu, 2010).
Genetically modified foods have decreased nutritional value as compared to their traditional counterpart foods. In some cases, the nutrients in GMO foods may be indigestible or unavailable to humans. For instance, phytate is a compound in grains and seeds that combine with minerals and makes these minerals unavailable to humans. Thus, an inserted gene will make some plants to produce greater amounts of phytate decreasing the nutritional value of the plant (Dospinescu, 2010).
The introduction of genetically modified genes to farm crops can be a threat to the genetic diversity, and these genes can spread to organic farm crops and endanger crop diversity in agriculture. A decrease in crop diversity will directly affect the entire ecosystem thus affecting the population of other organisms. When a large scale plantation produces genetically modified strain through pollination to non-genetically modified crops could create a hybrid system. This will lead to new artificial strains introduced into the environment could potentially reduce biodiversity through competition (Eastham & Sweet, 2002).
Despite having several advantages GMOs little is known about the long-term effects of genetically modified organisms to human health. Scientists should work collaboratively to unearth the consequences of using GMO foods for a long period of human health. Several controversies surrounding GMOs should be settled. These controversies include whether GM foods are adequately regulated or tested, can harm the environment, and if they can be consumed safely. These controversies have continued since the introduction of GM foods. They have occupied international organizations, the media, and the courts (Mathews & Campbell, 2000).

Dospinescu, N. (2010). The Marketing of GM Products: Between Economic Growth and Ecology. At the Interface/Probing the Boundaries, 62.
Eastham, K., & Sweet, J. (2002). Genetically modified organisms (GMOs): The significance of gene flow through pollen transfer (pp. 1-74). Copenhagen: European Environment Agency.
Phillips, T. (2008). Genetically modified organisms (GMOs): Transgenic crops and recombinant DNA technology. Nature Education, 1(1), 213.
Landrigan, P. J., & Benbrook, C. (2015). GMOs, herbicides, and public health. New England Journal of Medicine, 373(8), 693-695.
Mathews, J. H., & Campbell, M. M. (2000). The advantages and disadvantages of the application of genetic engineering to forest trees: a discussion. Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research, 73(4), 371-380.

July 24, 2021

Food Science



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