Genetically Modified Fruit
Genetically modified fruits have specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques known as biotechnology. It is a very controversial issue, many disagree with the idea as it may cause harm to human health. However others argue that it could be the beginning of nutrient packed foods and could solve world hunger.
Many fruits are genetically modified to resist certain viruses. These are known as transgenic fruits.
The papaya has been genetically modified to resist the ringspot virus. Because of this the Hawaiian papaya industry steered clear of disaster – there is still no conventional or organic method to control this virus. Today 80% of Hawaiian Papaya are genetically modified.
University of Central Florida professor Henry Daniell created a genetically modified strain of lettuce that carries the insulin gene. The lettuce cells protect the insulin on its journey through the digestive tract, and when the insulin reaches the intestines, the body’s natural insulin-producing response is triggered.
These techniques are much more precise] than mutagenesis which is mutation breeding where an organism is exposed to radiation or chemicals to create a non-specific but stable change.
Benefits of Genetically Modified Foods
- -Sturdy plants able to withstand weather extremes
- - Drought-tolerant and salt-tolerant crops
- - Better-quality food crops
- - Higher nutritional yields
- - Inexpensive and nutritious food, such as carrots with more antioxidants
- - Foods with a longer shelf life, like tomatoes that taste better and last longer
- - Food with medicinal (nutraceutical) benefits, such as edible vaccines – for example, - - - bananas with bacterial or rotavirus antigens
- - Disease- and insect-resistant crops that require less pesticide and herbicide – for example, GM canola.
Social and Ethical Concerns
Concerns about the social and ethical issues surrounding genetic modification include:
- The possible monopolisation of the world food market by large multinational companies that control the distribution of GM seeds
- Concerns related to using genes from animals in plant foods. For example, eating traces of genetic material from pork is problematic for certain religious and cultural groups
- Animal welfare could be adversely affected. For example, cows given more potent GM growth hormones could suffer from health problems related to growth or metabolism
- New GM organisms could be patented so that life itself could become commercial property.