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The scientific breakthrough in the field of agriculture created room for the adoption of technology to improve genetic engineering. Genetically modified organisms result from the application of modern technology in genetic engineering in order to introduce desired genetic materials to plants to come with new species. Policymakers and researchers have different views on the impact of genetically modified foods on the health, social, and economic aspect of people’s lives. There are arguments that the use of genetically modified foods has surpassed its practicality. Although the new technology makes the new breed of food crops to stay fresher and create their pesticides, it has adversely affected the lives of many people. As supporters of the new technology in crop production argue for its application, critics argue that it has posed more threat to the global economy, human health, and the environment.
Positive Effects of Genetically Modified Foods
According to Barrows, Sexton & Zilberman (2014), there will be more than 12 billion people across the globe in the 50 years. Such a high number of people exert pressure on the available resources leading to food shortages and hunger. The introduction of genetically modified plants has increased food production thereby helping to fight food shortages and famine. Moreover, the developments of new types of pesticides and herbicides, the costs of production have been reduced while increasing the crop yield. Genetically engineered crops are more resistant to the various diseases and bacteria that inhibit the growth of plants (Perry et al., 2016). The ability of the plants to withstand adverse conditions like cold or hot temperatures helps to obtain yields even in areas where crop production could not be carried out before.
Genetic engineering has helped in the creation of variety nutritionally enriched foods necessary for fighting malnutrition. Unlike in the past where underdeveloped countries depended on staples as their main diets, the adoption of technology. According to Andersen et al. (2015), over one billion people in developing countries are malnourished due to inappropriate diet. For instance, the ‘Golden Rice’ that contains beta-carotene is vital for the provision of vitamin A to the body. Moreover, the production of pharmaceutical compounds using the genetically modified crops has helped to eradicate some illnesses.
Negative Effects of Genetically Modified Foods
Various researchers have raised concerns over the toxicity of GM foods. Barrows, Sexton & Zilberman (2014) argue that herbicide-resistant GM maize is highly toxic compared to non-GM maize. Besides, increase in the transfer of allergens to the immune system of human beings. Given that the dietary proteins are hydrolyzed and digested into smaller peptides, they hinder the production of the immune response in human beings. Moreover, such challenges have led to the emergence of hypersensitivity disorders and inflammatory responses. Therefore, the introductions of GM foods into the food chain with proteins containing unknown allergic potential expose people to more risks.
People are more vulnerable to allergens due to toxic substances that are produced by GM foods. For instance, the gene inserted into a soybean plant’s DNA from Brazil nut not only increased its nutritional value but also produced allergens leading to allergic reactions among consumers. Just like the emergence of more resistant strains of pests and diseases in crops due to the production of genetically modified crops, human beings are facing challenges due to the emergence of more drug-resistant bacteria and human diseases. According to Felt (2015), genetic modification is slowly leading to the development of life resistant diseases that makes the cost of eradicating diseases more expensive. Farm production cost, on the other hand, is increasingly becoming expensive due to the emergence of drug-resistant crops and diseases. The long-term impact will be consumption of crops with high concentrations of herbicides and pesticides thereby espousing human life to more risky conditions to the consumers of GM crops.
When evaluating the impact of genetically modified foods on people’s lives, human health forms the most critical factor that must be taken into account. Over the past few years when GM food has been embraced in many countries, the increased viruses that are associated with GM foods have affected human health. Although people take the matter of GM food lightly, the risk of being affected by the drug-resistant bacteria and viruses is a significant challenge. The increasing rate of disease infection as scientists venture into technological applications in the production of foods may expose more people health complications (Nicolia, Manzo, Veronesi & Rosellini, 2014). Since no pesticides or antibiotics have since been created to counteract the effects of the superbug, it may end up infecting human beings and crops.
One of the adverse effects is the loss of biodiversity in the various regions where GM crops or foods are introduced. For instance, there are concerns about the emerging type of weed that replaces the wild weed population. As genetically modified foods gain more popularity, new species of weeds spread slowly encroaches the popular weed types reducing their diversity. Moreover, the emergence of resistant pest and diseases that spread to other farmlands with utilizes their unique characteristics to prosper in the new areas (Felt, 2015). With time, they overtake the indigenous weeds and crops causing loss of diversity and increased production costs to the peasant farmers with less mechanized farming. GM crops contain ant-viral genes that have the potential of combining to form dangerous and resultant trains of viruses. Moreover, the varieties of crops planted due to emergence of crop
Technological development is currently being applied in all the fields to enhance efficiency and address particular challenges. In the area of agriculture, for instance, biotechnology and genetic engineering are widely used to ensure there is increased productivity in crop and animal production. The adoption of modern technology in genetic engineering has led to the emergence of genetically modified foods that have led to positive and negative changes in people’s lives. More concerns being raised about the dangers associated with the consumption of GM foods. Some of the issues include toxicity and allergenicity of the food substances. The increasing health risks that arise from exposure to genetically modified foods are life threatening and may shorten the lifespan of individuals in future. Although the adoption of technology in various fields is often embraced, genetic engineering provides an opportunity for human beings to utilize modern techniques in boosting their volume of production and time taken for the maturity of a pant.
Andersen, M. M., Landes, X., Xiang, W., Anyshchenko, A., Falhof, J., Østerberg, J. T., ... & Sandøe, P. (2015). Feasibility of new breeding techniques for organic farming. Trends in plant science, 20(7), 426-434.
Barrows, G., Sexton, S., & Zilberman, D. (2014). Agricultural biotechnology: the promise and prospects of genetically modified crops. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 28(1), 99-120.
Felt, U. (2015). Keeping technologies out: Sociotechnical imaginaries and the formation of Austria’s technopolitical identity. Dreamscapes of modernity: Sociotechnical imaginaries and the fabrication of power, 103-125.
Nicolia, A., Manzo, A., Veronesi, F., & Rosellini, D. (2014). An overview of the last 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety research. Critical reviews in biotechnology, 34(1), 77-88.
Perry, E. D., Ciliberto, F., Hennessy, D. A., & Moschini, G. (2016). Genetically engineered crops and pesticide use in US maize and soybeans. Science advances, 2(8), e1600850.
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