Are Genetically Engineered Food Products Safe For Human Consumption? Argumentative Essay
Through the use of genetic engineering and advanced technology, man has been in a position to modify the DNA and other traits of food producing animals and plants to improve their productivity and the level of survival. The commercial sale of animal and plant products that are genetically engineered began as early as 1994 (Crespi, John & Stéphan, 327). The need to undertake genetic engineering of crops and animals has been facilitated by various issues. To begin with, environmental and climatic changes affecting the survival rate of cash crops and animals have compelled scientists and biotechnologists to come up with ideas on how the survival rate of the cash crops and animals can be improved. In this aspect, scientists have implemented actions that lead to creating animals and crops that can withstand harsh environmental conditions i.e. attack by wild herbs, attack by insects and conditions of inadequate water (Crespi, John & Stéphan, 329). On the other hand, food shortage as a result of increased population growth has created a need to develop plants and animals with enhance levels of productivity to meet this pressure. Despite these advancements, there have been opposing views on the safety of genetically modified foods, with one group claiming that genetically modified organisms pose serious health risk to the global populace. On the other hand, certain scientists have indicated that there is no proof that genetically modified organisms have serious health risks or any form of health risks and are thus appropriate for human consumption. These opposing views have led to a heightened level of confusion among the general global population (Crespi, John & Stéphan, 331). Taking these issues into consideration, this paper will attempt to explore appropriate data sources to determine whether genetically modified organisms are safe and nutritious for human consumptions. As such will answer the questions: Are genetically modified organisms safe for human consumptions? What are the supporting facts about the safety of GMO’s on human consumption? What are the opposing views on this level of safety?
A visit to any food shop and science conference subjects one to various perspectives concerning genetically modified organisms. However, the question that lingers in one’s mind after listening to these perspectives is: Are genetically modified food products nutritious and safe? The answer to this question is yes. In a research performed by the University of California by the Davis department of animal science in the year 1999, using field data that represented more than one billion genetically modified animals it is indicated that: Genetically modified animal products are safe and nutritionally equal to non-genetically modified animal products. The research did not indicate any unusual trend in health of the animals that were studied since the introduction of genetically modified animal feeds in the year 1996. Taking into consideration the magnitude of this data, one can conclude that the issue of whether animals fed on genetically modified feeds are safe for human consumption is closed a case. As such, the research concluded that the consumption of animal products i.e. meat of animals fed on genetically modified feeds is equivalently safe and nutritious as those that are not fed on GMO’s.
In a Meta-analysis performed by Dr. Steven Novella on previous published laboratory studies that have been conducted to determine whether genetically modified food products have a significant negative effect on human life, it is indicated that out of 24 published studies, indicated no significant negative effects or health hazards on human beings. The meta-analysis or did not indicate important statistical differences on the previous studies indicating negative health effects (www.forbes.com). Dr. Steven Novella mentioned in the research that in case 80% of GMO food was poisoned as alleged in some studies, human beings and animals would have experienced a high level of mortality (www.forbes.com). Moreover, the research concluded that, considering the fact that protein and DNA are normal and pertinent components of food products that are digested, there was no reliable and detectable quantities of GMO components in certain food products such as milk, meat et cetera (www.forbes.com). As such, the consumption of genetically modified food products are safe and do not pose any significant health hazards.
In relation to the nutritive value of genetically modified food products, it has been argued that one of the benefits of GMO’s is their enhanced nutritive value (Fagan, 5). Genetically modified food products basically involve application of biological techniques, not only to improve the quantity of food products, but also to enhance their nutritive value. In this regard, scientists are in a position to create and develop crops that have a higher value of nutrients. One of the genetically modified food products that have been indicated as having an enhanced nutritive value is ‘golden rice’ that was developed by Swiss scientists (Fagan, 5). This strain of rice has been confirmed to possess a relatively higher amount of beta-carotene compared to other non-genetically modified strains of rice. In addition, there are certain strains of genetically modified soybeans that have been confirmed to possess a higher amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, for instance: the Monsato soybeans. Consequently, the use of genetically modified techniques to enhance food production has been considered healthy especially those techniques that are applied to prevent naturally occurring molds that attack crops and are hazardous to human health (Fagan, 5).
The safety and nutritive value of genetically modified food products has also been confirmed by research institutions such as the Society of Toxicology (SOT) (Lucio, 8). This society is committed to ensuring that human and animal life is protected through the application of recommended principles of scientific production. According to the SOT, the essence of referring to certain food products as genetically modified strains is misleading and inappropriate. This is due to the fact that conventional methodologies of animals and crop improvement are also causes of modifications, which are not given adequate attention. The society also asserts that it is quite inappropriate to argue that genetically modified animals and crop products have adverse health effects compared to non-genetically modified food products. This is due to the fact that the modification of certain characteristics of food products is equally employed in conventional animal and crop production techniques, which have a significant impact on the DNA’s of animals and crops. As such, the society acknowledges the fact that recognition of these effects should be directed towards the processes through, which GMO food products are subjected to in terms of processing in order to assess their safety. However, considering the fact that organizations like SOT play an important role as in ensuring that food products provided to the general public are not intoxicated, it is important to conclude that genetically modified food products are safe for human consumption (Lucio, 8). Otherwise, their productivity would have not been allowed.
Despite the fact that there have been scientific projects and researches conducted to prove that genetically modified food products are face and equally nutritious for human consumption, there have been opposing views to this argument. Various institutions and scientists have argued that the consumption of genetically modified crop and animal products subjects man to increased risks of health hazards. Jeffrey Smith an anti-GMO crusader, of the Institute for Responsible Technology, has provided a list of cases indicating that indeed the consumption of genetically modified organisms poses serious health risks to man (Moeller et al, 10). In his publications, Jeffrey Smith has placed emphasis on the fact that genetically feed animals have exhibited adverse health conditions such as early death and cancer, which could also affect human beings. He has also provided evidence of published books indicating that sheep that are gated on BT usually die prematurely while pigs fed on GMO feed tent to turn sterile (Moeller et al, 12). Jeffrey believes that this health effects could also be experienced among human-beings, especially those that consume GMO products.
Certain research institutions such as the Center for Food Safety have argued that there is no adequate proof indicating that genetically modified food products do not have adverse food products on human beings. In this aspect, the Center for Food Safety has implemented initiatives and campaign programs geared towards ensuring that the commercialization of genetically modified food products is stopped until adequate evidence of their effects is provided. In addition, the Center for Food Safety has placed emphasis that genetically modified food products offered in the current market, should be labeled as a means of public awareness. This view could be considered inappropriate due to the fact that there are organs and institutions that are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that food products offered to the public are safe. Therefore, the essence of creating pressure on companies that produce GM food products is unwarranted.
As aforementioned, the consumption of genetically modified food products is a subject of discussion, with two main opposing views, those that believe it is safe and those who do not. It is apparent that a variety of researches and publications have been provided to indicate that GMO foods are equivalently health and nutritious as non-GMO foods. These discussions have raised concern among the general public who are also subjected to opposing scientific views. However, apparently no research indicates the steps and actions that are taken to ensure that the identified challenges associated with the consumption of GMO products are solved. Global population is rapidly rising, this entails that there is an increasing need of sustainable food sources. It is therefore crucial that instead of subjecting consumers to confusion of whether to use or not use GMO food products, research institutions should focus on how the available food sources can be improved without harming human health.
Crespi, John M., and Stéphan Marette. "“Does Contain” vs.“Does Not Contain”: Does it Matter which GMO Label is Used?." European Journal of Law and Economics 16.3 (2003): 327-344.
Fagan, John. "New EU Regs on GMOS: Genetically Modified Organisms in Foods Is a Touchy Subject. The EU Has Just Passed GMO Regulations That Affect How Food Manufacturers Who Export Their Products to the Region Will Do Business There." Prepared Foods 1 Jan. 2004. Print.
"Genetically-Modified Food; Can You Comment on Genetically Modified Food Products? How Safe Are They? - Lucio R., Manila." Manila Bulletin 29 June 2003. Print.
Moeller, R et al. Farmers' Guide to GMOs. St. Paul, MN: Farmers' Legal Action Group ;, 2012. Print.
"The Debate About GMO Safety Is Over, Thanks To A New Trillion-Meal Study." Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. 19 Mar. 2015. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/09/17/the-debate-about-gmo-safety-is-over-thanks-to-a-new-trillion-meal-study/>.
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