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Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Food

Genetically modified food has been on the market since the early 90’s and since that time has attracted both positive and negative attention. Many people believe genetically modified food to be unsafe for human consumption and a hazard to the natural environment. There have been numerous studies undertaken to determine the risks involved with genetically engineering foods. As yet no set conclusions have been reached about the risk involved with genetically engineered food and strict guidelines have been established to regulate the genetically modified foods that can be sold to the consumer.

What is Genetically Modified Food?
Genetically modified food is food that has been altered at the DNA level. This is done by very precise genetic engineering techniques developed by scientists. In general the aim of genetically modifying food is simple, either to make the food more marketable or make it easier to produce. Most food that is genetically modified are plant products or vegetables such as soybeans, corn and tomatoes. The genetic modification of crops happened prior to scientific engineering via breeding and cross pollination. This method is still used to create crops that are more resistant to pests or to produce plants that yield bigger harvests. Scientific genetic engineering allows for a specific gene to be taken from one organism and transplanted into another. The gene responsible for making a plant resistant to pests can be quickly and efficiently transplanted into another plant allowing it to gain this resistant property.

Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Food

  • There have been numerous criticisms leveled at genetically modified produce and it is important that we as the consumer are informed about the possible drawbacks of a product.
  • Changing plants may have lasting effects on other organisms in the ecosystem. The change in a plant may cause it to be toxic to an insect or animal that uses it as its main food source.
  • Due to the widespread use of insect resistant genes in crops the insects may become resistant to the genetic modifications. This would cause a widespread loss of crops and plants that have the natural immunity leading to a loss in biodiversity.
  • Breeding and cross pollination across unintended species could occur resulting in things such as insect resistant weeds.
  • Cross pollination can also occur across crops that are not genetically modified leading to lawsuits about who owns the GM technology and seed. The same thing can happen between organic crops and genetically modified crops making it difficult to maintain an organic status.
  • A huge concern is that genetic modification could cause allergies in humans due to gene modification of plants. People may find that they are now allergic to other food products – people because they contain a gene from the allergen they have. One example is the use of a Brazilian nut gene in corn.
  • Some studies have shown that it may affect the human digestive system in a number of ways. The incorporation of substances that may interact badly with one another in food or in fact be poisonous to people may happen. The modification of certain genes may make some plant substances difficult to digest at all.
  • A major economical concern is that the control of world food sources may be limited to large companies because they own the GM seeds and have the money to start and finish the accreditation process.
  • Genetic modification can also make it difficult to know what you are eating, as a plant could contain animals products via genetic engineering. This could cause issues for those with dietary restrictions and religious commitments.

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Advantages of Genetically Modified Foods

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