Saturday, April 6, 2013

Genetically modified crops - advantages and disadvantages

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To genetically modify an organism, scientists have to try and break down the DNA structure of that organism, and then take out or add single or multiple genes and alter them to give it an advantage over other types of crops or organisms. As a result of this procedure scientists are also creating health and safety hazards as well as environmental concerns for the whole world.

The good things that come out of genetically modifying do help to make people forget about the disadvantages’ but not me; I am totally against it because of the dangers and risks that come of it. The general public are not the only ones fooled by the advantages of genetic engineering; food companies, supermarkets and lots of food retailers, are more than happy to buy and sell the products. They are like this because it is cheaper to produce, less work is required and if there were a food shortage, genetically engineered crops would be the perfect answer because they can be produced in vast amounts. To me this sounds brilliant and safe to eat, or is it?

There are many fundamental weaknesses of the concept like imprecise technology. When a genetic engineer moves genes from one organism to another, they can cut the DNA from the organism very precisely but when they decide to try and insert it into the target organism, it is basically random. To me this sounds a bit unusual. As a consequence, there is a risk that it may disrupt the functioning of other genes, essential to the life of that organism. Side effects are another key factor. “Genetic Engineering is like performing heart surgery with a shovel” (Washington Times 17). Scientists do not yet understand living systems completely to do any kind of genetic engineering, without creating mutations which would not only be harmful to the environment but also to our health. Widespread crop failure is just another big problem; because farmers intend to profit by patenting genetically engineered seeds. This means that they have all the same genetic structure, so if one gets a virus or a bug infestation; there could be widespread crop failure. An even bigger issue than before is that it could threaten our entire food supply because birds, insects and wind carry genetic seeds anywhere they want, like fields and beyond. Pollen from genetic plants can cross-pollinate with genetically natural crops and wild relatives. All crops-organic and non-organic-are vulnerable to contamination of cross-pollination.

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Even more crucial is the health hazards; there is no long term safety testing. Genetic engineering uses materials from organisms that haven’t been part of the human food supply to change the fundamental nature of the food we eat. Without long term safety testing the food might not be safe to eat. I definitely think, that laws of some sort should be passed so that we can have peace of mind about the food we are eating. Genetic engineering can cause mutations in an organism, which can create new and higher levels of toxins in foods, which also concern me. Genetic engineering can also cause unforeseen and unknown allergies, in foods. Problems cannot be traced without labels; our public health agencies are powerless to trace any problems back to their source, the potential for tragedy is staggering. Side effects can kill; 7 people died; 1500 were partially paralysed; and 5000 more were temporarily disabled by a syndrome’ that was finally traced back to a substance; tophan made by genetically engineered bacteria.

The most critical matter that I can possibly think of, that arises, is the environmental hazards. The influence of genetically engineered organisms on the food chain may damage our local ecology. The new organism may compete successfully with wild relatives, causing unanticipated changes in the environment. Once genetically engineered organisms, bacteria and other viruses are released into the environment’ it is impossible to contain or recall them. Unlike nuclear or chemical contamination, negative effects are irreversible. I think genetic engineering is very wrong because there are more reasons against it than for it and by looking at what it does not only us but the environment, I can see that it should be stopped before it is too late. I would not like to wake up one day in the future, and know that it is dangerous to go outside because of the chemicals, or having to stick to certain foods and giving up the ones that I like because the others could kill you. This might not be real but some day it could become a reality.

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