Yolande Devere

Frankenstein foods or an end to famine?
Science has improved farming methods dramatically over the last 100 years. But at what price? Following the scare in Europe over mad cow disease and contaminated beef, shoppers are far more nervous about the food they buy, especially if it has been "modified" by science. Supermarkets in Britain have been forced to lead where government has failed, and have insisted that suppliers label their products if they have been genetically modified. The supporters of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) say that food crops can be made resistant to pests, disease and drought, and made to produce more. With such crops, harvests need never fail again. Hunger will become a thing of the past. However many people, including scientists, are very worried. GMOs raise a lot of questions such as those below, which need a lot more research, if shoppers are to be won over. The good news is that Genetically Modified Foods are being tested more thoroughly than any other foods. Indeed, there are many common foods that would be banned if they were new today. Look at kidney beans, which are poisonous if they are not cooked properly. Peach seeds contain cyanide - every year around the world several people die from eating them. Before improved

PRUEBAS DE ACCESO A LA UNIVERSIDAD PARA MAYORES DE 25 AÑOS varieties were available, manioc, the staple food of millions, had to be specially prepared to remove its cyanide.

What will happen if new genes "escape" into other living things?
The genes are inserted into GMOs to do a specific job - to resist insects for example. But people are concerned that they will spread to other plants growing around the crop - as pollen on the wind or carried by insects. The insects will then starve and die. If there are no insects, birds and small animals will have nothing to eat and will also die. The supporters of GM foods, however, say that if insects stop eating the crop, the farmer has no need to kill them with insecticide. So more insects will be allowed to live. They say that it is actually very difficult for genes to transfer between different species. They also say that genetic modification by selective breeding has been going on for generations.