Genetically modified foods have raised great debate attracting polarized views and opinions. Genetically modified foods are plants or animals which are consumed by either animals or humans and whose genetic configuration has been altered in the laboratory to enhance certain characteristics. For example, genetic modification can be done by isolating a gene responsible for resistance to weed killers and insert it into another plant. The new plant would maintain its characteristics but would now be resistant to weed killers. Contrary to the wide disapproval for consumption of the genetically modified foods, these foods are not only safe to consume but also are environmentally friendly. This paper explores the benefits that are associated with these foods as well as the reasons why various entities disapprove their consumption.
Through genetic modification, the nutritional benefits of food are greatly enhanced. Foods that are deficient in a certain nutrient can be modified to include the lacking nutrients or increase the level of the nutrients for example the introduction of vitamin A in rice. This maintains the importance of rice but adds extra nutritional value to the food (Human Genome Program). This can be an important factor in keeping complications associated with vitamin A deficiency especially in areas where rice is the staple food.
With the current food shortages experienced in many parts of the world today, GM foods would be the most logical alternative to adopt. By taking several desirable traits from various other organisms and including them in one food plant, several characteristics can be greatly improved such as the food taste, resistance to drought and resistance to pests (Whitman, "Genetically Modified Foods”). As global warming and drought increasingly affects populations especially in the third world countries, having drought resistant food plants that take a very short time to grow would be a significant move to control deaths due to lack of food (Human Genome Program).
Demerits of GM foods
Many groups and movements have come up against GM foods and raised concerns about their safety to human existence. Most of those against the introduction of GM foods have been the religious groups and environmentalists. One major concern among the environmentalist is the effect the modification has on other organisms and the ecology. It is likely that genetically modified plants would undergo cross pollination with those which are not. If such an uncontrolled situation were to happen, genes would be transferred to undesirable locations and a mix up would give rise to an ecological problem.
The greatest concern regarding genetically modified foods is the possible consequences they would have on human health. Scientists have shown that some genes that are introduced in the GM foods would increase a person’s resistance to antibiotics. Consumption of these foods would expose unsuspecting people to health dangers especially because manufacturers do not label which foods are genetically modified and which are not (The Organic & Non GMO Report). Other than health reasons there are people who would not consume GM foods due to religious reasons. It is grossly unfair to sell people food without alerting them what they are buying for them to make decisions.
Genetically modified foods have a lot of criticism surrounding them but in essence they have more good than bad and it is illogical to expect a perfect commodity. With the advantages of solving the hunger problem experienced in many parts of the world and incorporation of genes necessary for production of necessary nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, GMOs are the best available solution. Genetic modification has also been practiced for ages through cross breeding of animals or plants. It is no different from what is done in the lab by taking desirable traits in one organism and inserting in another to have a resultant organism with a combination of better characteristics. If scientific evidence has proved that GM foods are safe to consume, then I think FDA should follow expert advice and legalize their use. However the citizens must be made aware of which foods are modified and which are not in order to make an informed decision.