Genetically Modified Foods: Are They Worth It?

GMO[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”1484956478″ cloaking=”default” height=”180″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51mAMfgV4lL._SL110_.jpg” popups=”default” tag=”monsterherbsc-20″ width=”141″]Also referred to as genetically engineered foods, genetically modified foods are created by scientists in a laboratory setting by inserting genes from one organism into the DNA of another. The procedure is intended to create food products of better quality and to achieve great commercial success.

Some foods are genetically modified to prevent allergies, while others are created to increase their shelf life. Experts are working on creating genetically modified foods that have the ability to treat certain diseases. Although developers of GMOs ensure that such foods are safe for consumption, the majority of people are against them.

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of genetically engineered foods.

Advantages Of Genetically Modified Foods

  •  Pest Resistant: Every year farmers suffer losses due to pest infestations in their crops. Consumers avoid eating foods that are cultivated using pesticides, so growing GM foods helps eradicate the use of pesticides and reduces the cost of bringing the food to the market.
  • Disease Resistant: There are numerous viruses, bacteria and fungi that cause plant diseases. Developers of GMOs are working to create plants that are resistant to these diseases.
  • Nutrition: Malnutrition is one of the major problems faced by many third world countries. People are dying because of the inadequacy of necessary nutrients and minerals. Genetically engineered foods are higher in nutrition than traditional foods. Also, they taste better. Experts are also trying to create foods that contain additional vitamins and minerals in order to alleviate nutritional deficiency.
  • Cold Tolerance: Unexpected frost can destroy fields and crops. Genetic engineers have introduced an anti-freeze gene from cold water fish into plants such as potatoes and tobacco. Because of the presence of this gene, plants are able to withstand low temperatures that normally would destroy unmodified plants. Besides, GM foods have a high shelf life, which makes them very easy to store.

Disadvantages Of Genetically Modified Foods

  • Threat to Human Health: The biggest disadvantage of these foods is that they can be dangerous to human health. It is believed that consumption of GM foods can cause diseases to develop that are immune to antibiotics. Further, some experts believe that GM foods can increase the probability of forming cancerous cells.
  • Insect Resistant: Most genetically modified crops are created to be resistant to herbicides or to form their own pesticide in the form of Bacillus thurengiensis (Bt). Organic farming also includes the use of Bt, but very sparingly. However, acres of GM crops contain Bt. Experts believe that within three to four years, insects will become resistant to Bt.
  •  Hidden Allergens: A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine pointed out that genetically modified soybeans contain proteins that can cause allergic reactions in people with sensitivity to nuts. Based on these findings, the sale of GM soybeans was restricted. However, the public may not be so fortunate in future since GM foods are not labelled and there is no way people can tell if food contains genes from species they are allergic to.
  •  Religious Considerations: Genetic engineers incorporate fish genes into tomatoes to prevent them from freezing at low temperatures. Moreover, chicken DNA has been added to potatoes to increase their resistance to disease. Many people who are vegetarian may begin to wonder if the food they are eating is free from meat or not.

Genetically modified foods have the potential to eradicate hunger and malnutrition problems around the world. However, there are many ambiguities to this technology, and using it without caution can cause unintended harm to human health and the environment.