Should Genetically-Modified Foods Be Banned

In the past decade genetically modified foods have been have made a world of stir about whether these foods are beneficial to our society or if they are actually hurtful. There is plenty information that is available to help support both sides of the issue but for every positive thing there is also a negative consequence. With genetically-modified foods being a trendy topic and being like all great debates it has its prons and cons, so it all comes down to whether the good will supercede the bad, or vice versa.

The word GM foods or sometimes labeled GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) is created for human and/or animal use by using the most advanced molecular biology procedures. The plants and/or crops sometimes have been altered in the laboratory to enhance certain important traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improve nutritional value. The enhancement is usually undertaken through breeding, soometimes a conventional plant breeding methods can be very time consuming and are often not very accurate as well as very costly.

On the other hand, a system know as genetic engineering can create plants with the exact sought after trait faster and with pin point accuracy. Take for example, we can select a certain a gene that is the cause of drought tolerance and insert that gene into a totally different plant thus resulting in the new GMO gaining drought resistance. Also genes from non-plant organisms also can be used, one of most well known examples of this is the use in corn and other crops. B. t. or Bacillus thuringiensis, is a naturally occurring bacterium that produces crystal proteins that are lethal to insect larvae. The United States accounts for nearly two-thirds of all biotechnology crops planted globally. According to the fact sheet which was produced by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, about 672 million acres of land are under cultivation,since 1996 the United States has consistently planted more GM crops than any other country, with 105. 7 million acres supporting GM crops in 2003.

Argentina is the next largest producer, with 34. 4 million acres, followed by Canada with 10. 9 million acres, Brazil with 8. 4 million acres, China with 6. 9 million acres, and South Africa with 1. 0 million acres in 2003. All in all these six countries grew 99 percent of the global GM crop area in 2007. Australia, Mexico, Romania, Bulgaria, Spain, Germany, Uruguay, Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Columbia, and Honduras also planted significant acreage in GM crops in 2003.

There can be many advantages about the gentically modified organisms and people who are for the production like Henry Miller say that “the regulation made on genetically modified foods should be based on genuine risk about the genetically modified organisms and not on the process which they are made. “Some of these advantages include are not limited to pest resistance as mentioned earlier this really helps because crop losses from insect pests can result in a devastating financial loss for farmers and starvation in developing countries.

Also herbicide tolerance, is important in most crops,the reason being baecause it is not cost-effective to remove weeds by physical means such as tilling, so farmers will often spray large quantities of different herbicides to destroy the weeds, a time-consuming and expensive process, that requires care so that the herbicide doesn’t harm the crop plant or the environment that the plant lives in so with the help of plants that are genetically-engineered to be resistant to one very powerful herbicide could help dilute damage to the environment by cutting down the amount of herbicides used.

Tolerance to the cold also helps the plants because unexpected frost can eliminate sensitive seeds, but with a antifreeze gene, these plants are able to tolerate cold temperatures that normally would kill unmodified seedlings. People would also argue that as the population increases and more land is being utilized for housing instead of food production, farmers will have to produce crops in locations previously would be ill-equipped for plant cultivation.

Producing plants that can live through extended times of drought or and groundwater will help people to produce crops in formerly inhospitable areas as well. Malnutrition is very common in third world countries where the “poor” peoples rely on a single crop such as rice for the main ingredient of their diet. Since, rice does not contain a sufficient amount of all the vital nutrients to prevent malnutrition, but what if rice could be genetically engineered to contain additional vitamins and minerals, so that certian nutrient deficiencies would be reduced.

Its a proven fact that every person will become ill atleast once in there lives and the use of medicines and vaccines often are costly to produce and sometimes may require special storage techniques that is not available in third world countries, and now researchers are working to patent edible vaccines in tomatoes and potatoes. These vaccines will be much easier to ship, store and administer than traditional injectable vaccines. To not be misleading not all GM plants are grown as crops, soil and groundwater pollution still remains a problem in almost if not every part of the world.

One example of an effort to help eliminate this is the use of poplar trees, these trees have been genetically engineered to clean up heavy metal pollution from contaminated soil. On the other hand you have critics like Martin Teital who states “that genetically modified foods should be banned until their safety for human consumption has been proven” and Kimberley Cooper who says that “the issue is still apperaring to this day and needs to be taken care of to assure the safety of all living kind. A few other critics of the issue with genetically modified organisms believe that over the past decade new studies have finding that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include high risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and certain types of cancer.

As for environmental impacts, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture could advance to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening uncountable microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of non-genetically engineered life forms with possibly hazardous genetic material. Acoording to the CFS or Center of Food Satety “Despite these long-term and wide-ranging risks, Congress has yet to pass a single law intended to manage them responsibly. This despite the fact that our regulatory agencies have failed to adequately address the human health or environmental impacts of genetic engineering.

On the federal level, eight agencies attempted to form regulation against biotechnology using twelve different laws that were written when genetically modified organisms were just an idea, long before genetically engineered food, animals and insects became a reality. The result has been a regulatorion frenzy, where any regulation exists, as existing laws are grossly manipulated to manage threats they were never intended to regulate or the rules are so broad that they can be re worded and pass through the loopholes.

Among many bizarre examples of these regulatory anomalies is the current attempt by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate genetically engineered fish as “new animal drugs. “(CFS) With all of the recent backlash the government is also starting to get involved and starting to put strict regulations on these major companies. The Organic and NON-GMO report released this statement “In mid-January, the US Food and Drug Administration announced new regulations requiring biotechnology companies to consult with the FDA at least 120 days before marketing new GM foods”.

Previously, such consultations were voluntary but now the Biotech companies must provide health safety data about the new GM foods to the FDA. While biotechnology and food industry representatives celebrated the new regulations, consumer and environmental groups downed them, saying they did not cover the entire aspect, mainly the part of labeling GM foods.

The FDA rejected consumer demands for labeling, not good for companies wanting to advertise products as non-genetically modified is the fact that the FDA says it will not allow labels like “GM-free,” “GMO-Free” or “biotech-free. The agency says “guaranteeing a product to be free of GM material is virtually impossible”. Instead the labels will have to say the food was not produced through bioengineering. Genetically-modified foods have the ability to make answers from the questions of the world’s hunger and malnutrition problems, and to help protect and prolong the environment by cutting down upon our reliance with chemical pesticides and herbicides.

Many people feel that genetic engineering is one of the inevitable waves of the future and that we cannot afford to ignore a technology that has such enormous potential and even better benefits. Yet there are many obstacles ahead for governments, especially in the areas of safety testing, regulation, international policy and food labeling. However, we must proceed with caution to avoid increasing any unintended harm to human health and the environment as a consequence of our enthusiasm for this groundbreaking technology.

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