Genetically Modified Food
Genetically modified food is food derived from genetically modified organisms. These organisms include genetically modified fish and crops. Through engineering techniques, genetically modified foods have changes done in their genetic composition. The techniques used in making of genetically modified foods are usually clearer than mutual breeding. Other techniques human beings use to modify foods are somaclonal variation, plant breeding, and animal breeding. However, the thesis of this paper does not focus on the other techniques, but considers and analyzes only the genetically modified foods. Most genetically engineered or modified food include plant products like tomatoes, corn, soybeans. This method is usually used by scientists to produce crops that are extremely prolific and resistant to drought and diseases (U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science 2012).
There is a fact about genetically modified foods, which states that there has never been any study conducted to determine the safety of these products for human organism. Any implication to the contrary fact is usually a pure fabrication. The communities of scientists across the world have different opinions regarding these foods. In the last thirty years, the global demand for food has increased with the growing populations across the world. In the quest to feed the planet, scientists have discovered environment friendly ways of food production; they manipulate DNA and produce crops that are stronger and more resistant to diseases. This essay helps to understand whether the genetically modified foods are slow poison killing the human race or a panacea for the world’s hunger.
Genetically modified crops have improved the traits of crops. There is a manipulation of the genetic makeup of crops with undesirable traits, while the desirable traits are kept in food through genetic engineering. Considering the population crises facing the planet, with a population estimate of 9 billion by 2050, there is a prediction of increasing strains on water, energy and food supplies, it is not possible to ignore the greater fortune awarded to the human race by the scientists. It is totally wrong to imagine that any solution could lye on anything rather than genetically modified food.
The resolution of the concern of food shortage on the planet is particularly assigned to the scientists who create genetically engineered food. In fact, they modify the food so that there is a chance to make various crops compatible with different ecological zones and to spare them from harm by insects. This is a positive step towards restoring food safety considering that genetically modified food is highly productive, disease-free and pest-free. For example, recently a strain of wheat has been developed, which emits a chemical known as E-beta-farnsene. This is the chemical produced by aphids when their lives are at stake (Shah, 2002). Therefore, it communicates to other aphids that their lives are in danger, and they should flee. The chemical substance emitted by this strain of wheat has also been proven to attract aphid predators and this act as an effective method of preventing this strain from insects. The knowledge of genetically modified food, once incorporated in the field of agriculture saves the plants from irreparable harm cause by these pests.
Another advantage closely associated with the genetically modified foods is that it controls the farm runoff. Chemicals used in agriculture could pollute water and soil in the agricultural land. With genetically modified food, there are also minimal cases of the application of chemicals in the farm. Therefore, this is an environmental friendly way of dealing with the environment, considering that the soil is not made toxic by insecticides and herbicides, neither is the water polluted. These foods also reduce the chances of allergic reactions caused by some foods.
Additionally, an intriguing argument can be used to understand the importance and necessity of the genetics research in food production. This is the difference in the state of food security for both developed and under-developed countries. The developed countries experience peaceful times of food security. This is because the developed countries invest heavily in the new technological innovation. Also, second generation of genetically modified crops has highly unique properties. They have a high quality of nutrient content.
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Genetically modified food has suffered a lot of criticism in the recent past (Whitman, 2000). Therefore, it is vital that consumers get informed about the possible shortcomings of using given product. It has been argued by scientists that changing plants is likely to have long-term effects on the ecosystem. The alteration of a genetic component of a plant may make it toxic to an insect that uses the given plant as the main source of food. There is also a potent fear that prolonged use of insect resistant genes in crops is likely to make the insects experience some form of adaptation making them resistant to these genetic modifications. The loss of bio diversity is likely to result in this widespread loss of crops to animals.
Another chief criticism that this technology has suffered from is that they cause unintended harm to other living organisms, the safety of using these foods has not been established by the scientists. As a matter of fact, we are the guinea pig or lab rats, who test the safety of the new foods. Also, it has been argued that genetically modified ingredients have the potential of causing cancer. Dr Stanely Ewen stipulated that food and water that is contained in the genetically modified foods could rapidly increase the growth of malignant tumors whenever they have contact with humans. The adverse effects of the immune system are left behind after the use of genetically engineered food and this changes cannot be ignored. Studies in the past have shown immune reactions that alter the blood cells that should protect humans from diseases.
The production of genetically modified food is also a venture that promotes dependency of third world countries on developed countries. For example, when there was golden rice developed which had a high proportion of vitamin A; this strain of rice was tremendously beneficial to poor people in developing countries. The problem arises when the poor countries do not have money to import such products or to grow them on their own. Despite these criticisms, the advantages of genetically modified foods still outdo their limitations, especially considering that some disadvantages do not have a basis on documented facts (Krieger, 2012). Therefore, it is necessary to appreciate the highly nutritious, disease resistant and extraordinarily prolific foods that play a significant role in fighting food shortage today. Therefore, the development and use of genetically modified foods should be encouraged to ensure food security across the world.
In conclusion, it is indisputable that the genetically modified foods are extremely valuable undertaking, especially in supporting the economy of any country. By elimination, every rational thinking individual would prefer to die of the effects of using genetically modified foods rather than the lack food to eat at all. This reasoning that all the people in the world should perceive these foods with open minds, especially bearing in mind the gap filled by these foods. Concerning the criticism that genetic foods contain poison, these claims should be dismissed from the minds of any individuals with the intention of saving the whole world from serious food crisis. The extent to which the genetically modified foods preserve the environment is preferred compared to the ordinary crops. Perhaps governments in developing nations should consider curtailing food shortage in the planet. They should also organize seminars to educate the public on the importance of food shortage to avoid these conflicts in opinions about genetically modified foods.
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Krieger, Lisa M. Genetically modified food debate muted in generally accepting science community. Sep10, 2012. Web. Retrieved October, 2012 from http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_21709575/genetically-m..
Shah, Anup. Genetically Engineered Food.September 26, 2002. Web. Retrieved October, 23 2012 from http://www.globalissues.org/issue/188/genetically-engineered
U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms. May 17, 2012. Web. Retrieved October, 23 2012 from http://www.ornl.gov/hgmis/elsi/gmfood.shtml
Whitman, Deborah B. Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful? April 2000. Web. Retrieved October 2012 http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview.php