Genetically Modified Foods

August 30th, 2022


Genetically modified (GM) food is expanded around the globe. People are aware of the disadvantages of consuming GM products, at the same time ignoring some of its advantages. There are a number of benefits that are associated with this type of foods [1]. They can benefit an individual’s health, assist in solving the starvation crisis and in some instances, be employed in making vaccines [2]. As a result, the main reason for the exploring the GM food concept is the need to uncover the benefits of producing them, to learn and acknowledge new aspects of food production, the interests in topics revolving around science, and the growing demand and attraction to the concept of gene transfer. Whereas many individuals focus on the limitations of GM foods, they are mostly beneficial depending on the manner in which they are employed.

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The focus of this paper is on exploring the advantages of GM foods, the opinions of individuals on the topic, its implication of allergens and toxins associated with GM food on individual’s health. Additionally, some of the dangerous diseases and infections, such as liver failure, cancer and thyroid diseases, and their relation to GM foods are discussed. Finally, the paper focuses on different types of crops such as potatoes and corn when exploring the concept of GM foods. The following key terms were used in the paper. Transgenic foods arefoods that are produced by transferring another gene into their system. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms produced using bioengineered technology [3]. Genetically engineered crops refer to crops produced by introducing another gene into their DNA [1]. Genetically modified foods were first discovered in 1946. In the 1990s, China became the pioneer country in employing transgenic crops [2]. After a number of experiments, some of them received approval to be sold in different markets [3]. In 2006, some reports indicated that weeds have undergone evolution and tolerate herbicides, which prompted the need for transgenic crops [2]. In the modern context, the advantages associated with GM food are on the rise. In the past, people were worried that this type of food may be harmful to their health due to lack of information, but currently, they comprehend its benefits.

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II. The Impact of Genetically Modified Food

Genetically modified foods are produced from animals or plants whose DNA has been changed with the help of biotechnological genetic engineering [3]. For instance, by transplanting DNA from other plants, the genes of an organism can be altered directly [2]. Apparently, the manner in which these foods are produced is different from the conventional method of breeding plants selectively to realize the traits that are needed.

There are different reasons why genetically modified foods are produced since genetic engineering is a technique that can be employed for a number of purposes. For instance, soy and corn undergo this process to develop resistance to herbicides, which makes it easier to spray weeds without affecting the growth of these plants [2]. It can also be instrumental in producing crops that are able to survive in drought areas or enhancing the nutritional value of some foods [1]. Additionally, there is a great scientific evidence suggesting that GM foods which are being sold on the market are as popular as regular foods.

The producers of genetically modified foods believed that they will cost less, have better taste and higher nutritional value, and be more durable as far as produce quality is concerned. Moreover, initially, the main objective of producing GM food was to improve crop protection [1]. However, the growing success of genetic engineering has encouraged scientists to explore new areas of modifying living organisms to produce beneficial results. For example, some organisms are being affected by insects and pesticides, and the techniques of fighting them are time-consuming or costly [4]. As a result, researchers believe that the DNA obtained from the virus can be implanted in the crops’ DNA to fight these pests and insects and make it using the top resistant virus.

Genetic modified organisms have a potential to improve the problem of food scarcity. The growing global population and the fact that so many countries are experiencing massive hunger and many people are dying due to starvation are clear indicators that this technology may benefit not only people planting crops but also the global societies [2]. Here are some notable opportunities that encourage the use genetic engineering on foods since they tend to offer bigger yields with less employment of pesticides and herbicides, use land effectively, besides, they tend to produce foods with better flavor, texture and better nutritional value.

Genetically modified foods tend to be environmental friendly. In this case, soil salinity has been a growing challenge in the agriculture sector. As a result, this has impacted growth of crops and in some instances, crops are unable to grow [1]. Excessive salt makes so many crops to shrink hence making farmers around the world to incur losses due to soil salinity. As a result, researchers have tried to establish a way of using genes that are tolerant to salt such as mangrove in planting crops [2]. For instance, Avicenna marina, a gene obtained from grey mangrove has to some instances been implanted in tobacco plants, which makes them tolerant to ionic and salt stresses.

Creation of sustainability through the use of GMO in the form of edible vaccinations is one of its exciting benefits. In this case, genetic engineering of foods has the capability of providing edible vaccines that can be employed in immunizing individuals against an extensive number of infectious diseases such as cholera [2]. For instance, the transgenic potato has been employed successfully in delivering a pharmaceutical vaccination that was instrumental in immunization against diarrhea.

Food allergy is known to be a significant threat to public health since it affects around 2% of adults and 5% of children living in the United States [5]. In this case, an allergy happens when a harmless protein reacts with the body producing an immune response [5]. As such, if the GM foods are made with a novel protein that emanates from a source that is allergic, it is possible that the protein may illicit an immune response in individuals [2]. As much as there have been a limited number of allergic reactions that have been confirmed so far regarding GM foods, the growing concern that some GM raw materials may cause allergy has encouraged some companies to move away from its production.

Some plants are known to produce substances that can be toxic to human beings. The plants that people consume produce low-level toxins that are just enough not to affect the human health [6]. Apparently, research studies have shown that by inserting a highly toxic gene in some food crops may result in the production of toxins at an extreme level which might harm human health. It may happen as soon as the gene is inserted into the plant since as soon as the genes that are already found in the plant are damaged, they may end up distorting their toxin structure hence resulting in adverse implications [2]. As much as this implications have only been seen in conventional breeding plants, they have raised serious concerned in GM foods.

A food product produced through genetic engineering may be of less nutritional value relative to the traditionally prepared food crops by making some nutrients indigestible tor unavailable to humans. For instance, Phytate may bind with minerals hence making some nutrients in plants unavailable [5]. Apparently, some genes that are inserted in plants may increase the rate of Phytate, which in the end may reduce the nutritional value of some crops.

Most individuals are of the opinion that altering an animals or plants DNA has a critical effect on an individual’s chances of developing cancer. However, it is important to note that the current research as far health risks of cancer of GMOs is inconclusive. However, there are still a number of people that believe that an extraordinary number of tumors have been established to develop earlier in female animals [2]. The challenge revolves around the fact that it is impossible to genetically manipulate an animal without triggering a number of other changes that the scientists did not account for. Even minor changes in a human body can lead to devastating health implications such as cancer. A number of research studies using soy, canola and potatoes have indicated damage to the liver in the animals that were fed with the GM food. Other research studies have also indicated an impaired gene in GM-fed animals, more organ damage and greater mortality rate. Certain research works have also indicated that GM soy possessed 12-14% less cancer-fighting phytoestrogens which is an indicator that some of the GM foods can cause cancer especially if they are not tested before being sold in the market [1].

III. Conclusion

Genetically Modified foods have for some time attracted a lot of interest in both the media and research. Despite the growing interests, members of the public are still unaware of some of the consequences and benefits that are associated with them particular based on the number of applications that they can be used. Ever since its initiation, there have been a number of issues of concern in the form of its environmental implication and its effect on human health. Research has proven that, as much as so many people are concerned about the limitations of GM foods, it can be beneficial. The interest in GM commenced because of the need to develop herbicides and insecticides’ resistant crops that can as well do well in drought areas. Despite its protection ability to plants, GM foods can contain some nutrients that cannot be obtained from the traditionally produced plants. It has also been employed in making of vaccines that are useful to humans. However, as much as it has done some tremendous things for the human population, GMO can as well be harmful which makes it important for further research to be conducted in order to identify strategies that can help eliminate the challenges associated with it in terms of health effects on humans. But above all, GM foods are beneficial.

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