Discussion About Genetically Modified Foods
Genetically modified foods: Beneficial views & Adverse views a. What is the possible risk for genetically modified crops considering nutrition and health? b. Whether the economic effects are the most important? c. Will it bring severe environment problems? III. Arguments for beneficial effects of GM foods a. Firstly, transgenic technology has made considerable progress in food applications. b. Transgenic food has successfully lowered food prices and ensured food safety. c. GM foods significantly reduce the environmental impact of agriculture.
Introduction The author, Magana-Gomez, critically analyzed the risk assessment methods of transgenic food for human nutrition and health in the paper, “Risk assessment of genetically modified crops for nutrition and health”. Magana reviewed various modes including different feeding period, animal modes and parameters in the paper published in 2011 by Nutrition Reviews (Magana G, 2009). In consistent with his studies, negative effects of GM food were identified “at molecular and microscopic levels”.
However, with our entry into the 21st century, genetically modified foods have undergone even faster development. However, there are also many doubts about the safety of genetically modified foods. Therefore, genetically modified foods have become a hot topic issue. Personally, although there are many controversies about GM food, I still insist on the research and promotion of transgenic food due to its diverse benefits. Views According to Curieux-Belfond CL, he could identify the factors that deserve consideration before “commercialization and promotion of transgenic food” (182).
In this paper, “Factors to condider before production and commercialization of aquatic genetically modified organisms: the case of transgenic salmon”, the author took transgenic salmon as an example, in which Curieux-Belfond examined the corresponding impacts in terms of aquaculture, wildlife, ecosystem and human health. The paper published in 2011 by Evironmental Science & Policy suggested that GM food undoubtedly contributed to economic benefits without exerting too much extra burden (Curieux B, 2009).
In the end, the author believed that the benefits of genetically modified foods far outweigh the disadvantages. Analysis of the benefits of genetically modified foods Magana’s argument is persuasive when he assessed the risks about GM food. However, since genetic engineering techniques have successfully transferred anti-viral, insect resistance, cold resistance and other genes to cotton, wheat, tomatoes and other plants, we can get stable new varieties of genetically modified, with low production cost and high-yield food, which will ease the world food shortage and reduce the use of pesticides to a large extent.
Based on the above reasons, I will provide a critical analysis with the following specific examples which show his argument is partially wrong. Firstly, transgenic technology has also made considerable progress in animal food applications. At present, a variety of mammal and bird genes are successfully integrated into the genome of fish, which can significantly enhance transgenic fish muscle protein content and improve growth speed. With the development of genetic engineering technology, people have been freed from natural enzymes to a large extent.
Especially when the enzyme obtained from natural protein material encounters difficulties, genetic engineering has the unique advantages of natural gene cloning (Seralini GE, 2011). Thus, it can be highly expressed in microorganisms with mass production by fermentation. At present, the transgenic enzymes are widely used in the food industry, such as maltose enzymes amylase, pectinase and the juice protease. The food nutritional quality modified by genetic engineering has also made remarkable achievements.
For instance, the genetic engineering technology has been applied for seed protein improvement, which renders it possible to change the plant composition and amino acid content. Secondly, transgenic food has successfully lowered food prices and ensured food safety, which helps increase production and food supply while reducing the farm labor and pesticide applications, agricultural inputs and production costs (Weasel LH, 2009). In the future, GM crops have great potential in solving the food crisis.
For instance, by applying transgenic technology to the human staple foods of rice and wheat, people can increase food production and improve nutritional quality, which will provide mankind with higher-quality food. Furthermore, GM foods have also proved effective in alleviating poverty and hunger. The world’s poorest 50% of the population are small and resource-poor farmers, while 20% living in rural areas without their own land actually depend on agriculture. Therefore, the increase in small-scale and resource-poor farmers’ income will directly assist 70% of the world’s poorest people (Curieux-Belfond O, 2009).
So far, genetically modified cotton in India, China and South Africa have already made a significant contribution to more than 1. 2 million poor farmers’ income. The benefits of genetically modified corn in the Philippines and South Africa will be much clearer in the future. In addition, genetically modified rice has great potential to benefit 250 million poor families in Asia, whose benefits will reach 10 million people (Curieux-Belfond O, 2009). Transgenic food also helps to reduce land development. Transgenic technology has been developed to improve the current 1. billion hectares of arable land productivity through conservation of biological resources, thereby reducing land development and deforestation. Thirdly, I will demonstrate such improvement since they significantly reduce the environmental impact of agriculture. Traditional agriculture has a significant impact on the environment, and transgenic biotechnology can help reduce this impact. In the first decade of application of genetically modified crops, by planting herbicide and insect-resistant characteristics, transgenic technologies have greatly reduced the use of pesticides, saved fossil fuels and reduced carbon dioxide emissions.
Undoubtedly, genetically modified crops with drought-tolerant genes will improve water-use efficiency and maintain sustainable agricultural development, which will play an important role in easing the crisis of population growth and global food shortage (Artemis D, 2009). GM crops have also contributed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in two main ways, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping slow climate change. First, by reducing fuel use, the spraying of insecticides and herbicides, GM crops continue to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In 2007, genetic engineering has been stated to reduce 1. billion kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions, which is equivalent to a decrease of 50 million cars from the road. Secondly, herbicide-resistant GM crops help reduce tillage applications, which protects the land and enhances soil carbon sequestration. Conclusions Despite the many advantages of GM food, we cannot ignore the risks. After genetically modified foods have been taken into the human body, they may cause harm to human health. Moreover, after a large number of transgenic crops come into nature, they may be biologically harmful to ecosystems.
Since the risks of GM food is serous, it is important for us to reflect on it first. Any of the scientific and technological developments should be comprehensive and provide well-being for human life. If genetically modified foods can only increase our economic interests and improved material life without the moral, social and environmental harmony, they cannot be defined as making great contribution to social development. Therefore, whether GM food is a benefit or a disadvantage really depends on what kind of human values people hold (Qaim M. 2009). That is the question we reflect on deeply.
In contemporary society, with the rapid development of science and technology, the economic situation of the human and the material standard of living has been soaring. It seems that mankind is taking great proud for the advanced technology. However, we should look back to what the living environment we rely on is subjected to. Therefore, genetically modified foods are seen as the savior of mankind, which is actually human self-centered ideology. Of course, with the continuous development of biotechnology and genetic engineering, human beings have the ability to create more genetically modified food.