Genetically Modified Foods
Genetically modified foods generally refer to foods that are accorded a type of discriminatory propagation by gene alteration in the DNA structure for superior productive capability. Ehrenfeld (1997) asserts that the farming industry has noted technological milestones in response to the gradual increment of the populace noted over time in a bid to offer adequate food security. The Green Revolution established in the late twentieth century played a fundamental role in the transitory nature of agriculture from natural methods into technically engineered ones. The Green Revolution initially targeted rice and wheat, where the palatable part of the plant was enhanced while observing a simultaneous reduction of the inedible part. To encompass animal foods, the subject was extended to the area of genetically modified foods that were instituted in the period of 1990s. Although both operatives were well received at their initial phases, current trends have sought to reject the practices as attributed to health wellbeing, environmental degradation and monetary issues expressed by several appraisers on the subject.
Researches on the subject covering up to fifteen years in monitoring the health of individuals that consume genetically modified foods have indicated the absence of health hazards on the consumers (Brody, 2000). However, this has sparked debates across various lobby groups with some noting that the foods have proven to posit health hazards after prolonged consumption. In the year 1998, scientific investigators raised the alarm on genetically modified foods after a study indicated intestinal and tissue erosion and malfunctions in animals that had been fed with the mentioned food type. Latest studies have also posited the possibility of heart, kidney and liver harm to the intake of genetically modified foods. However, these results have been rejected by a majority of experts within the subject on the argument that the studies had employed the use of faulty data. Additionally, the toxin employed within the control study was a known hazardous health element that would never be used by genetic engineers on palatable foods.
An alternative scientific school of thought holds the view that posited health hazards on consumers are widely unidentified yet the inference does not rule out the possibility of health risks. These three views have created the first core controversy regarding the issue of genetically modified foods. However, the assertions currently are only tangential in nature as they are more abstract than quantifiable in nature. The only health issue linked to genetically altered foods is the creation of possible genes that may cause allergic responses to consumers as noted mostly within the European populace in the consumption of nuts. These allergies enhance health risks within affected individuals by increasing the reduction of bodily resistance to some illnesses. Expansively, allergens also affect other living organisms as the microbes that are very significant in the health sustenance.
This negative influence on microbes additionally plays a role in environmental dilapidation. Maggots have also been noted victims of genetic alterations with the consequences being very severe and consequently leading to massive life loss. Genetically altered plants rely greatly on nitrogenous fertilizers for the super normal growth required (Ehrenfeld, 1997). These growth stimulants rely on the usage of oil energy whose ecological harm is widely known. The extent of environmental dilapidation depends on the amount of oil consumed in the manufacturing process. As demand for the fertilizers increase, the amount of oil energy and the ecological hazard resulting from the production process also increase. Pesticides have also been noted in the harmful loss of unintended useful organisms on plants during the spraying exercises. A significant loss of these useful organisms leads to the alteration of food chains and webs causing further harm to other related organisms within the chain/web.
A notable research study regarding this issue examined the harmful effects of the B.t. contaminant on various plant dwellers. The outcomes of the study supported the given view on environmental degradation yet no accord has been made on the matter with the opposing view holding the ground that the data applied was erroneous. The other issue raised against genetically modified plants is genetic transmission occurring between sprayed crops and weeds within the same farming area. This is made possible by the cross pollination and the problem lies in the acquisition of superior genes by the weeds as it creates a sort of resistance on the unwanted plants. As the weeds increase, so do their harmful effects on the crops and broadly on the environment. Additional fertilizers have to be created to combat the genetically modified weeds and this acts as an additional cost and risk to the farmer. Excessive spraying of the area may lead to further harm on the crops (Ehrenfeld, 1997). Insects also share in genetic modifications just as the weeds and an increase in such insect breeds pose probable health hazards to the populace.
The third issue deals with the monetary aspect of the genetic alterations. The technology used to infuse genetic modifications in both plants and animals is very costly and this consequently adds a significant intrinsic cost within the manufacturing process. With the nature of the cost being intrinsic, it means that its effects trickle down to the farmer in terms of costly seeds. As any normal businessperson bent on the profit element, the farmer is forced to increase the selling price affecting the consumer’s purchasing power considerably. The genetic machine owners have acquired exclusive rights to their products in a bid to secure profits within the agricultural industry. This move has ultimately sidelined developing nations that cannot afford the cost levied to genetically altered products. This contradicts the main objective of the Green Revolution for the creation of food surpluses by the enhancement of food productivity. Lobby groups have therefore used the controversy created by this issue to combat that issue of genetically enhanced products.
As the debates concerning the aforementioned issues persist, various points of consent have been noted touching on the three core issues. Credible information may have lacked for the establishment of the discussed issues, but Brody (2000) notes that probable hazards have been noted within the packaging area as related to health issues. Genetically modified foods lack a reliable regulatory framework to ensure that there is safety in food handling, packaging and constituents. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) body is not allowed to examine these foods unless an ingredient termed as unsafe is noted. Therefore, the testing requirement is solely the manufacturer’s duty that is constrained as a reliable process by the producer’s willingness to test the products. This means that, if the manufacturer sees no need for testing, then his actions are viewed as legal and the FDA cannot legally dispute the move. Allergens, which are the causative agents for allergies therefore, are easily passed along with the food products and the health hazards attached to the same have been pointed out in the discussion.
Ignorant consumers have the highest probability of acquiring health issues from allergenic transfers. This is also enhanced by the fact that, although known allergens are noted in genetically altered products, new allergens still lurk widely to the unknowing consumer. With regard to the environment, the various groups have consented on the risk attached to genetic swapping between microorganisms and plants (Brody, 2000). The deaths attributed to this issue have raised a lot of concern on the environmental impact posited by the issue. Although genetically modified foods are still being consumed on a wide scale, the issues that surround the mentioned products have created notable ethical and societal concerns that in future may cripple the industry once the health, monetary and environmental hazards are fully established. At the moment however, individuals should focus on investigating any form of forwarded observation in a bid to clear the core issues related to the use of genetically modified foods.
Brody, Jane. “Gene Altered Foods: A Case Against Panic.” New York Times, 5 Dec. 2000. Web. 17 Jan. 2011.
Ehrenfeld, David. “A techno-pox upon the land.” Harpers Magazine, Oct. 1997. Web. 17 Jan. 2011.