The Genetically Modified Food Debate

Essay by kate123High School, 12th gradeB, October 2008

download word file, 3 pages 4.0

The genetically modified food debate is one that has been very controversial in recent years, and with the future technologies and growing population it isn't going to end soon. Genetically modified foods (GMF) are foods that have had their DNA altered through genetic engineering to enhance desired traits or improve nutritional content. About 2/3rds of food on the supermarket shelf are either genetically modified or contain genetically modified ingredients, sparking issues surrounding morals or lack thereof.

Modern techniques of producing GMF include taking copies from the cells of a plant or animal and inserting them into the cells of another plant or animal to create a desired characteristic. Scientists describe it as "one gene controls one character trait, and transferring the gene results in the transfer of the corresponding trait to the genetically modified organism, which can then pass it on indefinitely to future generations". The first step involves identifying the gene/s responsible for this characteristic, called the gene of interest.

It is then isolated from the donor organism and appropriate gene switches are added. The gene of interest is then inserted into cells of the host organism which is then grown with selective media (lighting, temp) so only the plant cells containing the gene of interest will grow. Then conventional breeding is used for future generations. Plants are then transferred to a greenhouse and eventually into fields.

The health issues which accompany GMF are enormous, with many stakeholders have concerns about the risks which may affect them. These are mainly allergenicity, toxicity, antibiotic resistance, and the unknown effects on human health. The process of GMFs can introduce dangerous new allergens and toxins into food that were previously naturally safe. By producing and marketing GMFs in mass, the risk of infecting consumers is great and dangerous to take. Secondly the...