Do the potential advantages of GM food outweigh possible drawbacks - Essay Example

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Genetically Modified Food: Worth the Risks? Course, Professor Name University Name March 31, 2011 Genetically Modified Foods: Worth the Risks? Table of Contents Introduction 3 Background 3 Risks and Concerns 4 Potential Benefits 6 Conclusions 8 References 9 Introduction In 2007, 143 million hectacres worldwide were planted with transgenic crops of some kind (Magana-Gomez and Calderon de la Barca, 2009)…
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Do the potential advantages of GM food outweigh possible drawbacks
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Download file to see previous pages With this in mind, it is therefore vital that we understand genetic modification as it relates to our food products, in order to explore more fully the science and controversy surrounding its risks and benefits in our world today. Using this information, we can then make an educated decision as to whether the sale and use of such products would be to our gain or to our detriment. Background First, it is vital that we understand what the words “genetically modified food” actually mean to the general public and to the scientific community. “Genetically modified”, or GM, food, is a food crop that has had its genetic code, as designated by the DNA of the plant, altered in some way that makes it different from the original food crop (Forman, 2009). The other commonly heard term GMO refers to a genetically modified organism. This is slightly different from a GM food crop in that it is a wider term. GMO can be any kind of genetically modified product, but the term is most often used in reference to food product organisms, such as soybeans that have been altered to resist colder climates or bacteria that have been designed to be useful in the manufacture of cheese (Whitman, 2000). The sale and human consumption of genetically modified food crops is generally more controversial than the usage of genetically modified organisms in food manufacture, as such organisms are used only in the manufacturing process and are not present in the final consumer product (Forman, 2009). In the approximately fifteen years that genetic modification have been in practice for food and consumer goods, there have been three major tiers of progress. The first level was changes to food at a level generally unnoticeable to the consumer. This included changes to products that primarily affect the growers, such as giving the plants insecticide resistance or a lengthier period of ripeness. While this tier was the only one in effect, most consumers were unconcerned about genetic modification and there seemed to be little conflict. The second level, however, gained much more widespread coverage. This stage started to involve changes to product that were visible all the way down to the consumer level, such as altering colour and nutritional content. The newest and next generation of genetically modified foods is currently in the research phase, and primarily focuses on medicination uses for GMO. This involves the creation of pharmaceutically-active food crops, which could be designed to contain vaccines or medicines for developing nations (Magana-Gomez and Calderon de la Barca, 2009). All three of these categories are currently ongoing, and all have a wide variety of both helpful and harmful possibilities. Risks and Concerns One major concern for many consumers and companies that purchase food products is the relative newness of the genetic modification process (Forman, 2009). While most produce and meat that we eat today is already greatly modified from its “wild” phenotype to make it more palatable, have better yields, or for myriad other reasons, the traditional breeding methods used to produce these crops have been in use for hundreds and even thousands of years. The scientific community generally considers such methods proven safe by the basic fact that they are still in use after all this time with no serious detrimental effects on the human ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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