Genetically Modified Foods
Linda L. Day
SCI207 – Dependence of Man on the Environment
February 26th, 2012
Genetically Modified Foods
Genetically modified foods have increased the total harvest of many cash crops by eradicating the harm done by weeds and insects, and for the most part, this has been the single greatest benefit that GMOs have presented within the last decade. There are benefits being speculated and tested as of now to future speculation on what this science can bring us.
There are other ways that GMOs are able to increase the overall bounty of a crops harvest, such as resisting dangerous diseases and being able to sustain the plant with less water or ...view middle of the document...
With all of these benefits available to everyone, the process of genetically modified organisms seems to be the perfect answer for everyone. However, there are also great risks to altering DNA structures of organisms and in turn consuming the altered organisms. Genetically-modified diseases, which can be passed on to almost every consumer in the market, are a dangerous possibility, and human and even animal health is being put on the line when genetic engineers are, arguably, “playing God”. The BT and HT crops which are being used by over half of the farmers in the United States are creating genetically altered insects and weeds, and it’s believed that consumers are susceptible to similar alterations. Granted this does not mean all consumers will sprout gills or grow a third arm, it does mean that if a transformation were to occur within our DNA, the potential risk would be that it would cause effects within our bodies that make us susceptible to a new breed of disease.
Insertion of genes into the genome can also result in unintended effects, which need to be reduced / eliminated by selection, since some of the ways the inserted genes express themselves in the host or the ways they affect the functioning of the crop’s own genes are unpredictable. This may lead to the development of unknown toxic/allergenic components, which we cannot analyze for and seriously limiting the selection criteria. (Pusztai)
The other danger that Gm foods present is the effect on the environment. GM foods, especially BT and HT crops are filled with chemicals and toxins that are intended for destroying unwanted weeds and insects; however, when such plants pollinate, they send spores through the air which also carry the DNA structure designed to kill weeds and insects. When a harmless insect, such as a monarch butterfly, comes in contact with the deadly spore, it is affected to the point of death. The targets of these BT and HT plants are as of now uncontrolled and varying, and harmless insects are dying because of them. “Unfortunately, BT toxins kill many species of insect larvae indiscriminately; it is not possible to design a BT toxin that would only kill crop-damaging pests and remain harmless to all other insects.” (Whitman)
Another fear of GM foods is that the actual price of buying genetically altered seeds is very high in comparison to non-GM seeds. The pricey seeds have been linked to many financial problems among farmers who have purchased them, and have also been connected to Indian farmer suicides over the last few years. Although there is no official link, “many anti-biotech activists are blaming Bt cotton for many of the problems gripping cotton farmers, including farmers' suicide.” (The Truth about Bt Crops…) Although the actual suicide issue is not a direct result of the overpriced cotton seeds, these Bt seeds are expensive to obtain, and there are no promises of any substantial profits gained by farmers in India; cotton is a gamble to grow in...