Genetically modified foods - Research Paper Example

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Originally, the discoveries in this area were thought important because they opened doors to creating crops that were supposed to be more resistant to pests and supposed to produce higher yields…
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Download file to see previous pages As a result, GM could provide solutions to problems of poor, hungry, and marginalized people in developing countries (Weirich, 2007). Yet opponents of the technology are concerned that genetic modification can erode biodiversity, lead to genetic pollution, and cause the evolution of "super bugs" and "super weeds" (Weirich, 2007; Weick and Walchli, 2002). They also raise questions about the health safety of GM food and equity issues relating to the ownership of GM seeds (Weick and Walchli, 2002).
Advocates of genetic modification often contend that the risks associated with it do not differ much from risks introduced by conventional breeding. Indeed, in 1990, the International Food Biotechnology Council recommended that GM food plants could be regulated with existing laws and practices and that no additional regulatory measures were needed (Ingenthron, 1991). Some argue, on the other hand, that new biotechnology is qualitatively different from conventional techniques (Victor and Runge, 2002). In conventional breeding, whole blocks of genes are moved by allowing crossovers or meiosis (Lappe and Bailey, 1998). With genetic engineering, only isolated genes carrying specific traits are transferred. Also, genetic engineering allows gene transfer between species that would not naturally exchange genetic material. The later trait makes this new technology revolutionary, as revolutionary as the splitting of the atom. Giddens (2000: 8) called it a quantum leap, both in terms of its possible advantages and risks. Like every scientific revolution, GM technology has entered into public debate with its perceived benefits and costs.
In 1991, the Office of Technology Assessment stated that biotechnology would contribute to agriculture by: (1) lowering production costs; (2) increasing yields; (3) providing higher-quality food; and (4) ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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