Genetically Modified Foods

...Harmful or Helpful?

So what exactly are Generically Modified Foods (GMFs)?

"Genetically Modified Foods (GMFs) are crop plants created for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biology techniques. These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content. The enhancement of desired traits has traditionally been undertaken through breeding, but conventional plant breeding methods can be very time consuming and are often not very accurate. Genetic engineering, on the other hand, can create plants with the exact desired trait very rapidly and with great accuracy. Not only can genes be transferred from one plant to another, but genes from non-plant organisms also can be used."


Advantages of GMFs.

"One of the major advantages is that they help in controlling the occurrence of certain diseases. There are some foods that cause people to have allergies when consumed. By modifying the DNA system of these foods, the properties causing these allergies are eliminated successfully.

It is also said that these foods grow faster than the foods that are grown in the traditional manner. Due to this, productivity increases, providing the population with more food. That is important because the world population is supposed to be about 6 billion, and double in the next 50 years! Apart from this, it is claimed that these foods are a boon in places that experience frequent droughts, or where the soil is incompetent for agriculture, making it difficult to grow normal crops. Also, genetically engineered food crops can be grown at places with unfavorable climatic conditions, while a normal crop can only grow in a specific season or under favorable climatic conditions.
Though the seeds for such foods are quite expensive, their cost of production is said to be lesser than traditional crops. The main reason for this is that these foods have natural resistance towards pests and insects. This reduces the need to spray genetically modified crops to harmful pesticides and insecticides, making these foods free from chemicals and environment friendly as well. Genetically engineered foods are also said to be high in nutrients, and contain more minerals and vitamins than those found in traditionally grown foods, and taste much better! Genetically engineered foods also have an increased shelf life and have a lesser chance of going rotten."


Problems of GMFs.

  • "The biggest threat caused by this food is that they can have harmful effects on the human body. It is believed that consumption of these genetically engineered foods can cause the development of diseases which are immune to antibiotics. Moreover, according to some experts, people who consume such foods have high chances of developing cancer. Besides, as these foods are new inventions, not much is known about their long-term effects on human beings. As the health effects are unknown, many people prefer to stay away from these foods.
    In many countries, manufacturers do not mention on the label that foods are genetically manufactured because they think that this would affect their business. However, this is not a good practice as consumers do not get the chance to decide whether they should really opt for these foods.
    Many religious and cultural communities are against such foods because they see it as an unnatural way of producing foods. Many people are also not comfortable with the idea of transferring animal genes into plants and vice versa. Also, this cross-pollination method can cause damage to other organisms that thrive in the environment.
    Experts are of the opinion that with the increase of such foods, developing countries would start depending more on industrial countries because it is likely that the food production would be controlled by them in the time to come."


  • Overall...

    "Genetically-modified foods have the potential to solve many of the world's hunger and malnutrition problems, and to help protect and preserve the environment by increasing yield and reducing reliance upon chemical pesticides and herbicides. Yet there are many challenges ahead for governments, especially in the areas of safety testing, regulation, international policy and food labeling. Many people feel that genetic engineering is the inevitable wave of the future and that we cannot afford to ignore a technology that has such enormous potential benefits. However, we must proceed with caution to avoid causing unintended harm to human health and the environment as a result of our enthusiasm for this powerful technology."


    Labeling GMFs?

    "Genetically modified foods have been a concern for many people around the world. Europeans have been the most vocal in their opposition to genetically modified foods, implementing strict labeling requirements for any GM foods sold in their stores. The European Commission has proposed mandatory labeling for genetically modified foods that contain even a single ingredient with one percent genetically modified material. In the United States, by contrast, there are no mandatory labeling requirements in place. Over two dozen countries outside of the EU have labeling requirements for GM foods. Obviously, many more do not have such requirements. The question of whether these labeling laws are good national public policy is an open one around the world. One central argument in favor of labeling GM foods is that it is important for consumers to have a choice in consuming or avoiding products made with GM ingredients. A primary argument against labeling is that there are no proven health risks surrounding GM foods, while labels seem to imply such hazards. This article documents over two dozen additional pros and cons."


    Pro-labeling Arguments.

    "Consumers have a right to know what’s in their food, especially concerning products for which health and environmental concerns have been raised (Raab and Grobe, 2003).

    Mandatory labeling will allow consumers to identify and steer clear of food products that cause them problems.

    Surveys indicate that a majority of Americans support mandatory labeling. (However, such surveys often do not specify the effect on food prices.)

    least 21 countries and the European Union have established some form of mandatory labeling (Gruere and Rao, 2007; Phillips and McNeill, 2000).

    For religious or ethical reasons, many Americans want to avoid eating animal products, including animal DNA."


    Anti-labeling Arguments.

    "Labels on GE food imply a warning about health effects, whereas no significant differences between GE and conventional foods have been detected. If a nutritional or allergenic difference were found in a GE food, current FDA regulations require a label to that effect.

    Labeling of GE foods to fulfill the desires of some consumers would impose a cost on all consumers. Experience with mandatory labeling in the European Union, Japan, and New Zealand has not resulted in consumer choice. Rather, retailers have eliminated GE products from their shelves due to perceived consumer aversion to GE products (Carter and Gruere, 2003).

    Consumers who want to buy non-GE food already have an option: to purchase certified organic foods, which by definition cannot be produced with GE ingredients.

    The food system infrastructure (storage, processing, and transportation facilities) in this country could not currently accommodate the need for segregation of GE and non-GE products.

    Consumers who want to avoid animal products need not worry about GE food. No GE products currently on the market or under review contain animal genes. (However, there is no guarantee that this will not happen in the future.)"


    Should GMFs be labeled?

    GMFs do not need to be labeled. Most people don't care because they don't take the time, and unless the food is fine then they're satisfied. I had never even heard of them, and they don't affect me at all. Everyone is different though, and forms there own opinions.