Good Example Of Argumentative Essay On Genetically Modified Foods (Gmfs)
Genetically modified foods or GMFs can be described as “foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally, e.g. through the introduction of a gene from a different organism” (Verma & Singh, 2014). The techniques employed for the alteration of the genetic composition of a plant or an animal or the transference of genetic order from one life form to another have been introduced, developed, and promoted since the ending years of the twentieth century. Staple crops that are modified genetically like soya or corn are available in many regions throughout the world since early 21st century. However, a number of countries criticize and oppose the initiation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the process of developing and making them available on the mass market. This is because of the fear that the consumption and utilization of genetically-modified foods may cause significant damaging and potentially irrepressible effects on environment and peoples’ health (“Genetically Modified Food,” 2014).
How is Genetically-Modified Food Produced?
The process of production of genetically modified food involves the modification of plants in the laboratory for developing or boosting the ideal qualities. These may include instantaneous betterment of herbicide resistance or superior dietetic content for human consumption. Previously, desired traits were developed by the employment of breeding. However, those methods took a lot of time to produce results and were often found to be inappropriate and inaccurate. On the other hand, plants with the perfect desired trait have been created very quickly and with immense accurateness with the use of genetic engineering. However, genetic engineering is not the only method whereby food crops are modified. In fact, it is a branch of biotechnology field that is still continuously developing. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), scientists make use of numerous tools in agricultural biotechnology for understanding and manipulating the genetic structure of organisms in order to use them for producing and processing various agricultural products. The traditional techniques in agricultural biotechnology may involve “the brewing and fermentation of beverages, as well as new laboratory applications such as genomic analysis, genetic marker-assisted selection, and the actual genetic engineering methods for direct manipulation of DNA” (“Genetically Modified Food,” 2014).
Positive Impacts of Genetically Modified Foods
Presently, the genetically-modified food is derived from plants. However, it is expected that the availability of foods obtained from genetically-modified organisms and animals would be made possible to the future consumers. Genetically-modified foods have become increasingly popular as they are developed for the improvement of yield. Another objective to develop plants through genetic engineering is to bring improvements in crop protection. Genetically-modified crops that are currently available on the market have the major purpose of increasing crop protection levels. Such crops demonstrate resistance against virus-caused or insects-caused plant diseases. Genetically-modified also have higher levels of herbicide-tolerance. The gene responsible to produce toxin in the Bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) is incorporated into the food plant to achieve resistance against insects. In the present times, this toxin is utilized as a conventional agricultural insecticide as human beings can consume it safely. On the other hand, a gene present in certain viruses that cause plant diseases is introduced in a plant for making it virus resistant. As a consequence, crop yields are higher as plants become less vulnerable to virus-caused diseases (Kreipe, 2010).
Why Genetically Modified Foods Have Become Increasingly Popular?
As there has been a continuous increase in the world population, governments all over the world are challenged by the availability of sufficient food supplies to people. According to the advocates of genetically-modified food, the development of GM foods is the potential solution for resolving certain problem related to malnutrition, lack of food resources, and world hunger. The advocates of genetic modification assert that this technology may ultimately provide consumers the opportunity of accessing low cost but better varieties of food (Brady & Brady, 2003). Genetically modified foods can also contribute by facilitating the processes to protect and preserve environment due to their evident outcomes in farm yields’ increase and reduction of utilization of chemical herbicides and pesticides. Genetic modification could also be employed in the future for alteration of food’s nutrient content, reduction of possibilities of allergies, or the improvement of food production systems’ efficiency ((Verma & Singh, 2014). In short, biotechnology and genetically modified plants and food products can be considered the future representatives carrying numerous benefits for the human race as they possess exceptional have “incredible prospective “to enhance nutrition, feed a growing world population, open up new markets for farmers, and reduce the environmental impact of farming” (Mann, 2000).
Negative Impacts of Genetically Modified Foods
The manufacture, production, and distribution of agricultural staples that are genetically modified are criticized as they may incur potential damage to human health. This criticism is also based on the ground that the natural species and ecosystems may also be harmed as a result of uninhibited dispersal of genetic material. Allergenecity or adverse allergic reaction caused by genetically modified crops and foods is a major concern regarding health. The consumption of genetically modified soy protein is reported to result in gastroenteritis and gastroenteropathy. These are adverse allergic reactions an individual may experience after consuming high protein foods. Respiratory problems and certain skin problems are also associated with the consumption of genetically-modified edible products. Although there is no conclusive research data regarding the certainty of such allergies being caused by GMFs, researchers recommend people to take a precautionary approach while using genetically-modified food products and crops (“Genetically Modified Food,” 2014). There are many who oppose genetic modification on the moral grounds as this technology intervenes in the natural genetic structure of a living organism. Others discourage genetic engineering due to its probable economic consequences. This is because there is a great difference in the accessibility of resources and technologies between affluent and poor nations. It is feared that rich nations and similar companies may take an undue advantage of accessing and using these technologies for controlling world markets (Brady & Brady, 2003).
Certain effects on environment have also been identified. A major effect is that the fresh species that show tolerance for pesticides may employ numerous natural mechanisms for transferring the tolerance to adjacent weed species. As a result, ‘super weeds’ are created that have no susceptibility for common herbicides. In addition, valuable crops may be contaminated through interbreeding with insidious genetically modified organisms. Although researchers do not recommend abandoning such plant species, they still encourage the manufacturers of genetically-modified foods to take a cautious approach while experimenting. The modern day manufacturers advertise the bio-safety of genetically modified foods and products with great hype. However, there is a need to take precaution as there could be numerous poor and unfavorable effects of transgenic plant products that may take more time to become apparent (“Genetically Modified Food,” 2014).
Effects of Genetically Modified Foods on Prepubescent Girls
Genetically modified foods have been reported to affect women and girls more as compared to their male counterparts. GMFs have a great impact on female body especially the bodies of prepubescent girls. For instance, the genetically modified soybean is particularly questioned for its safety for the teen girls. It has been reported that soybean affects the growth patterns of adolescent females in certain ways. In fact, soy contains compounds that are rather similar to estrogen found in human bodies. The consumption of genetically modified soy may cause hormonal disruptions resulting in early puberty. As soy-made products are also responsible for the disruption of endocrine function, its excessive consumption may also cause infertility. In addition, soy is heavily sprayed with Roundup (an insecticide) to increase its resistance against plant diseases and insects. Roundup contains an active ingredient known as glyphosate (Rott, Lawrence, Wall & Green, 2004). This element in the mentioned insecticide may possible cause an imbalance in the hormones. Therefore, it is important for parents to be aware of the various potential dangers of genetically modified soy which is so easily available in the market with different names.
Effects of Genetically Modified Foods on Children
Genetically-modified foods also affect the young bodies of children in significant ways. Children have a rapid physical growth and their bodies are more likely to be impacted by the consumption of foods that are modified genetically. For the same reason, scientists have conducted experiments on young rats to study the effects of genetically modified foods on their physical functioning. The results demonstrated considerable health damage in young rats just after a few days. Results included damage of digestive functions, immune system, smaller brain size, precancerous cellular growth in intestines. In addition, children are at a higher risk of developing allergies as compared to adults. New allergens particularly affect toddlers (1-2 years). Genetically-modified food and milk products may cause certain allergic reactions in children. The consumption of genetically modified foods by mothers may ultimately affect their breast-fed children. Corn that is genetically modified is particularly harmful for kids as their diet mainly consists of corn and products made from it (Hasan, 2000).
The milk production in cows is boosted by the employment of bovine growth hormones (BGH) through genetic engineering. When children consume milk from cows treated with BGH, it results in a number of unfavorable effects as BGH is threatening for both cows and consumers. This is because bovine growth hormones could be absorbed into blood from milk ultimately producing allergic reactions and hormonal imbalances. Furthermore, the “steroids and adrenaline-like stressor chemicals induced in cows by these hormones are likely to contaminate milk and may be harmful, particularly infants and young children” (Hofland, 2000).
Children also show more susceptibility towards nutritional problems. The nutritional content of food may be changed harmfully through genetic modification. Besides, there are a number of infant formulas that use genetically-modified soy. As mentioned, such plants change estrogen levels in human body. The consumption of soy-derived infant formula may greatly impact children’s sexual development. Also, even a small change in nutritional state of a food product may instigate bowel obstruction.
Verma, A., & Singh, A. (2014). Animal Biotechnology: Models in Discovery and Translation. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic Press.
Brady, J., & Brady, P. (2003). Consumers and Genetically Modified Foods. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 95(04), 12-12.
Genetically Modified Food. (2014, January 1). Cengage Learning. Retrieved December 31, 2014, from https://www.questia.com/library/science-and-technology/life-sciences-and-agriculture/agriculture/genetically-modified-food
Hasan, H. (2005). Mendel and the Laws of Genetics. New York: Rosen Pub. Group
Hofland, I. (2000). Simply Dairy Free. Auckland, N.Z.: White Cloud Collective Publications.
Magaña-Gómez, J., & Calderón de la Barca, A. (2009). Risk Assessment Of Genetically Modified Crops For Nutrition And Health. Nutrition Reviews, 67(01), 1-16.
Mann, R. (2000, December 22). Biotechnology Regulation. Issues in Science and Technology. 5.
Kreipe, M. (2010). Genetically Modified Food: Trade Regulation in View of Environmental Policy Objectives. Hamburg: Diplomica Verlag.
Rott, M., Lawrence, T., Wall, E., & Green, M. (2004). Detection and Quantification of Roundup Ready Soy in Foods by Conventional and Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52(16), 5223-5232.
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