Genetically modified foods

Essay by dreamadreamHigh School, 10th gradeA, February 2009

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How are foods modified?Genetically modified foods (GMF) are foods which have had their DNA altered to enhance desired traits or improve nutritional content by means of genetic engineering. About two thirds of food on the supermarket shelf are either genetically modified or contain genetically modified ingredients, creating various moral issues and dilemmas.

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 commonly simplify it to “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 in the lab, usually with an incubator, 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.

Advantages/DisadvantagesThere is a need to produce, in mass, inexpensive and nutritious foods to help feed the world’s growing population. Genetic modification may provide better quality food, which have higher nutritional content, lower consumer costs, greater shelf life, better taste, medical benefits and less pesticide application as crops. GMFs are a good idea to combat third world poverty, future population skyrockets, thus creating a healthier society. However these pros are countered with many cons. There are many social and environmental risks involved with GMF, such as unintended harm to some species, and a possible...