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Is genetically modified food safe?

By: Chris West

What is Biotechnology? (with food)

Genetically modified food is food and crops that have been changed molecularly and biologically, with biotechnology, for human or animal consumption. These foods have been modified in laboratories to enhance certain traits, such as a higher nutritional content, and to have more resistance to herbicides.

Papayas: In the 1990s, Hawaiis papaya trees were plagued with
the ringspot virus. The ringspot virus dangerously affects a crops health, this virus basically wiped out half of the crops in the state. So in 1998, scientists developed a transgenic fruit called rainbow papaya, which is resistant to the virus. Now 77 percent of the crop grown in Hawaii is Genetically Engineered. Without this genetic engineering, Hawaiis economy would have been devastating. <<<< Papaya with the ringspot virus

How has food changed over time?

During World War 2, the most common reason why people who enlisted into the U.S military were rejected because they were malnourished and underweight. Around 60 to 70 years ago, this was considered at the time as a strategic threat to our security. So the U.S government pushed to learn how to process food at a greater scale that was clean and safe so that they can make it constantly available to every American. Before that, you couldnt really trust the food that was being processed. The food industry has done some great things over the years. No matter where you are in this developed world, you could always just grab a bottle, a package, or a box and you could just always assume that it is safe to ingest. If it isnt safe, it usually would make news, they couldn't do this back in the day when most food wasnt safe after being processed.

How do they do it?

They make genetically modified food by using biotechnology, which is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make useful products, or "any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use"- says Wikipedia. They change the organisms DNA/Genetic code by adding and removing more genes which would help the farmers grow their crops faster, their crops would also not need to be sprayed with insecticides. They also help us by adding antibiotics with the intention to improve the quality of human life.

Why do they do it?

Genetically modified foods were developed and marketed because they serve an advantage to the grower, the consumer, or both. They wanted a product with a lower price, a greater nutritional value, and a greater durability. The initial objective of the development of plants by GM companies was to improve a crops protection. The current GM crops on the market are mainly aimed at a higher protection of a plant from certain diseases and viruses caused by insects or herbicides. A way that they can achieve insect resistance in a crop is done by putting a gene from a specific toxin into the plants cell structure. The toxins are proven to be safe to human health and it also causes the crops to use a lower amount of insecticides in climates where they would normally use a lot. They also use less herbicides by using a gene from a bacterium and they can decrease the amount of viruses by putting a gene from the virus into the plant.

Economical Revolution (Supply & Demand)

Plant genetic engineering methods have been around for many many years. And since then, genetically modified crops have become commercially available and widely adopted. In 2009, GM crops were being grown on 10 percent of the Earths arable land. According to a report by the National Research Council, Many U.S. farmers who grow genetically engineered (GE) crops are realizing substantial economic and environmental benefits -- such as lower production costs, fewer pest problems, reduced use of pesticides, and better yields -compared with conventional crops. Also, according to Resources of the Future, Where BT (BioTech) crops have been grown in developing countries, the technology appears to often generate employment, because more workers are needed to harvest the significantly higher yields. One study in India suggests that BT cotton produces 82 percent higher incomes for small-farm households compared with conventional cotton-- a remarkable gain in overall economic welfare.

Opposed viewpoints
There are plenty of reasons as to of why people are against GMOs. People are tired of not having a choice between genetically modified foods and more natural foods. This is because the labels that are on gmo products are not labeled differently than the non-modified food, this doesnt give much people a choice at all. In Europe, it is mandatory for ge foods to have specific types of labels. With all of the new gmos, some people may be allergic to new foods and this may potentially harm that consumers health. GMOs mess around with the natural balance between plants and animals, it messes with the web of life, and they cost more money than expected to! Genetic engineering is mostly corporated, which seems to make it appear that big corporations are controlling the agriculture industry worldwide! The production of GMOs is not beneficial to the world and does not have the effects on the people as promised. World hunger still exists.

Supporting viewpoints
With the coming of GMOs comes great benefits to the people, the economy, to the farmers, and to the world. When we grow foods with GMOs, it can result in better tasting foods that stay more fresh for a longer period of time, along with the immunity to insects! Plant breeding also causes the growing of crops to be better at withstanding ecological dangers, like droughts, diseases, and insect infestations. By developing specific traits, biotechnology allows food to be grown in different places easier, with the use of fewer chemicals and natural resources. This increased availability of crops will help benefit farmers all around the world! A college study also claims that without the use of GMOs, prices for crops would be more expensive. Biotechnology also benefits the environment, growing these crops decrease the amount of soil erosion, ultimately preserving around 37 million tons of topsoil. With biotechnology, the world is just a better place.

My Viewpoint
With the controversies of genetically modified foods and organisms, I have mixed viewpoints. With all of the research that I have been doing, I dont really know who to believe. Scientists claim, with studies, that with the use of biotechnology, crops can be cheaper and faster to grow all around the world. They say that it will help stabilize economies and that it will help end world hunger. But then their are the other guys. They arent all scientists but they claim that the use of biotechnology is horrible to the environment and possibly to our health. I understand why they want GE products to be labeled different in stores, but I think I would rather go with the cheaper products that have been genetically modified. I hear it is better for your health and I would much rather have a cheaper grocery receipt than an expensive one full of organic materials. Therefore, Id say that biotechnology is a good thing, but in order for more support, the companies should release better information on the products.