Genetically Modified Foods
Genetically modified foods are “foods produced from genetically modified plants or animals” (Zhang, 2016). Essentially, being genetically altered implies that a “Gene of Interest” from one organism is extricated and embedded into the target organism. For instance, if scientists need to make a particular crop deliver a nutrient that it typically is not equipped to produce, they will search for another organism that produces that nutrient of interest and then they would insert that gene into the target plant. Although there has been a lot of debate regarding this technique, it has become an industry norm. The primary goals of genetically modified foods are to increase the nutritional value of foods and increase food production which could potentially end starvation and malnutrition. In any case, much the same as other forms of technology today, it has two sides.
Genetically modified foods present numerous benefits. For foods that do not have necessary minerals and vitamins, the GMO strategy can enhance their nutritional value. Considering that there are areas around the globe that solely depend on one food type as their daily staple food, such as corn and rice, foreign genes could be added to these foods to raise their nutritional value (Arber, 2010). By doing so, malnourished populations would get more nutrients. Some foods such as corn have also been genetically altered to produce medically useful proteins. Scientists have come up with techniques to put vaccines into GM foods such as the hepatitis B vaccine implemented into corn (Simpson, 2014). This vaccine delivery method is cheaper and more efficient and has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives. Genetically modified crops produced through genetic engineering is intended to ensure that the products will be less vulnerable to pests and diseases. Being more resistant means that farmers use less pesticides making it safer for the environment by reducing pollution. Farmers do not need to use pesticides to protect their plants from different insects and pests that would otherwise damage crops. GM foods also lead to larger food production as raising genetically modified crops is significantly easier because they have a better resistance to parasites and diseases. As such, farmers increase their profits by lowering the cost of required resources. Increased yields and lower expenses can prompt to cheaper nourishment. Reduced food prices will unquestionably help families that cannot afford food and thus help to reduce starvation globally.
Despite these advantages, GM foods could lead to some problems. GM foods might bring about allergic reactions because of the foreign or engineered proteins they contain (Herman, 2003). These allergic responses happen when the immune system deciphers compounds as intrusive and hostile and responds accordingly. They also have negative effects on the environment; one of which is the impact on pollinators. It is a concern that the pollen of GM crops could have unplanned results for creatures that associate with the crops such as pollinators (Maghari & Ardekani, 2011). Also, presentation of GM foods might be detrimental for the genetic diversity qualities of specific yields. This occurs as the “superior” GM strain swarm out different ones available, or that genes from a genetically modified product could go to another living being, which raises the likelihood that weeds and other intrusive species could get a similar imperviousness to pesticides and herbicide that GMOs have.
Genetically-modified foods can solve a significant portion of the world’s malnutrition, vaccine, and hunger issues, and help secure and protect nature by reducing heavy pesticide reliance. However, many drawbacks need to be addressed before it becomes a viable solution. Despite these drawbacks, genetic engineering is an unavoidable wave with enormous potential benefits that we cannot ignore.
Arber, W. (2010). Benefits of genetically modified crops for the poor: household income, nutrition, and health. Biotechnology Journal, 552-557.
Herman, E. (2003). Genetically modified soybeans and food allergies. Journal of Experimental Botany, 1317-1319.
Maghari, B. M., & Ardekani, A. M. (2011). Genetically Modified Foods and Social Concerns. Avicenna Journal of Medical Biotechnology, 109-117.
Simpson, M. (2014, November 24). Hepatitis B vaccine produced cheaply and efficiently using GMO corn. Retrieved from Genetic Literacy Project: https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/11/24/hepatitis-b-vaccine-produced-cheaply-and-efficiently-using-gmo-corn/
Zhang, C. (2016). Genetically modified foods: A critical review of their promise and problems . Journal of Food Science and Human Wellness, 116-123.