Issues of Genetically Modified Foods Technology

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Genetically modified foods have advantages and disadvantages concerning human health, the environment, and the economy. These foods have played a role in enhancing food quality and promoting human health.

Genetically modified foods (GMFs), also known as biotechnology, are created by directly manipulating DNA. This process involves combining genetic sequences from different sources that do not naturally occur. Through various techniques, genetic engineers transfer DNA from plants or animals to crops, resulting in new or enhanced qualities for the crops.

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James D. Watson, a scientist who pioneered the molecular revolution in biology, enabled advancements in genetic engineering, gene therapy, and cloning (Cullen, 2006, p. 144). Genetically modified organisms are utilized across diverse fields such as biological and medical research, gene therapy, and agriculture. The public frequently encounters genetically modified crops and food products (National Geographic, 2012). Some examples of genetically modified crops are maize (corn), rice, wheat, potato, soybean, tomatoes, and cotton.

Genetic engineering has sparked continuous debates due to its controversial nature. Despite scientific evidence supporting its advantages, it is important to acknowledge the existence of drawbacks, which consumers may be unaware of. Consequently, genetically modified foods encompass both benefits and risks concerning human health, the environment, and the economy. These foods have been scientifically proven to enhance nutritional value and provide a better taste.

In a study mentioned in an article by Whitman (2000), scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Institute for Plant Sciences have developed a type of rice called “golden” rice, which has a significant amount of beta-carotene (vitamin A). This special rice can be genetically modified to include essential nutrients that help combat malnutrition. The project was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, a non-profit organization that intends to distribute the golden rice seed free of cost to any developing country facing nutritional deficiencies.

In February 2001, Greenpeace expressed their opposition to the argument that golden rice is beneficial, referring to it as “fool’s gold.” According to Yount (2006), Greenpeace stated that the rice plant produces only minimal amounts of beta-carotene. This means that in order to meet the recommended intake of vitamin A, a person would have to consume nine kilograms of cooked rice daily. Additionally, genetically modified foods with longer shelf lives can be transported to distant places, reducing expenses and waste for consumers.

Genetically modified foods are designed to resist pesticides and herbicides, reducing the need for chemical sprays and minimizing soil contamination and pollution. Additionally, these crops demonstrate increased resilience, thriving in various weather conditions such as droughts and extreme cold (Whitman, 2000). Moreover, Whitman (2000) asserts that genetically modified crops offer economic benefits to farmers in developing countries by generating higher crop yields within a shorter timeframe to meet rising food demands.

Genetically modified crops provide benefits for farmers, such as higher profits from needing less land. Additionally, they contribute to addressing food shortages in starving nations by growing quickly and at a lower expense. However, there are concerns regarding potential negative effects on human health, such as the development of diseases and allergies. Critics contend that these harmful consequences can only be identified through future outcomes rather than being anticipated.

Genetically modified foods may contain antibiotic-resistant genes that can be transmitted to consumers, potentially reducing the effectiveness of antibiotic treatments. Moreover, the complete safety of genetically modified foods cannot be guaranteed due to inadequate traditional toxicology tests in assessing their risks (Giorgio, 2008). Additionally, concerns arise regarding possible allergic reactions in consumers caused by gene transfer between different species and the introduction of allergens from unexpected sources during gene alteration (Betancourt, 2011).

The use of genetically modified food made from eggs may cause different reactions in individuals with an egg allergy, indicating the possibility of developing new and potentially more perilous allergies through genetic modification. Moreover, there is a rising apprehension regarding the potential environmental hazards associated with genetically modified foods, including gene transfer to unintended species and detrimental effects on biodiversity. Additionally, concerns exist about the interbreeding of genetically modified crops resistant to herbicides and pesticides with weeds, leading to the proliferation of “super” weeds and pests.

Giorgio (2008) states that if genetically modified plants become resistant to pests, the development of stronger pesticide sprays would be necessary. However, this could lead to an increase in soil and water pollution, contradicting the original purpose of genetically modified plants. Moreover, there are concerns about potential conflicts over patent rights resulting from crossbreeding between genetically modified and non-genetically modified crops. Additionally, a decline in biodiversity occurs when there is a decrease in the population of organisms and their interactions within an ecosystem. The widespread cultivation of genetically identical crops can disturb the balance of nature and wildlife, causing disruptions in surrounding ecosystems.

Wild plants located miles away have the potential to receive pollination through wind-borne pollen. Certain genetically modified plants, like B. t. corn, can affect insects such as the Monarch butterfly. Research has indicated that exposure to pollen from B. t. corn resulted in higher mortality rates for caterpillars of the Monarch butterfly species. This has prompted concerns regarding the impact of genetically modified foods on the organic foods industry, leading environmental agencies to closely monitor these developments.

There are also concerns about the use of bees in crop pollination and how it may be affected by genetically modified crops (Whitman, 2000).

According to National Geographic (2012), genetically modified food is a new and untested technology with the potential to cause significant global economic problems if not managed correctly. Critics argue that biotechnology prioritizes profits over scientific progress. This profit-oriented mindset is evident in patent infringements related to genetic modification. The introduction of genetically modified foods into the market is a costly and intricate process, leading many newly developed foods and plants to be patented for the financial protection of biotech companies. Consequently, this shift in power from agriculture to biotechnology occurs within the industry.

Consumer advocates are worried about biotech companies patenting genetically modified crop seeds, as it could make them too expensive for small farmers and third world countries. This would result in a growing wealth inequality between the wealthy and impoverished (Whitman, 2000). In addition, there are difficulties in enforcing these patents because of the possible cross-pollination between genetically modified plants and nearby farms. As a result, farmers may be accused of infringing on patents by biotech companies, leading to legal action against them. The enforcement of patents can also create a dependence on prosperous biotech companies for seeds among farmers in third world countries.

The benefits of genetically modified plant seeds in third world countries are their ability to grow faster and produce higher yield, thus addressing the issue of food scarcity. However, a drawback is that these modified plants produce infertile seeds that can only be used for one growing season. Consequently, farmers in developing nations who cannot afford new seeds each year face financial impracticality (Whitman, 2000). Another concern is the potential for genetically modified foods to create an unequal economic landscape and lead to an unfair distribution of wealth. Furthermore, there are concerns about a decrease in food diversity due to the continuous use of genetically modified crops.

The biotechnology industry’s rapid growth may lead to a future where standardized crops are grown by everyone. This could cause a decrease in food diversity and richness, potentially resulting in a global diet lacking cultural differences in terms of food and drink (Panse, 2011). In conclusion, despite the notable advantages of genetically modified foods and crops such as lower production costs and higher yields, their potential risks and hazards are significantly greater. These risks can have lasting effects on human health, the environment, and society.

Some people consider biotechnology to be an undesirable disruption of natural biological states and processes that have naturally evolved over time. This opposition is particularly common in Europe, where genetically modified foods are often referred to as Frankenfoods due to fears that genetic engineering could result in the creation of monsters resembling the scientist in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein novel (Yount, 2006, p. 147). In my opinion, I believe that the current advantages of biotechnology will only be temporary, and consumers should exercise caution regarding the food they consume and the potential health risks associated with genetically modified foods.

It is vital to have accurate global labeling for genetically modified foods so that individuals can decide whether or not to consume them. Strict government regulation is necessary for controlling the growth of genetically engineered crops, particularly in developing nations. Before permitting the distribution of any genetically modified item, thorough scrutiny of biotech companies involved in producing such foods must be conducted to guarantee public health.

Furthermore, it is imperative that all biotechnology companies prioritize the development of a robust ethical awareness concerning their responsibility and consider the long-term welfare of society rather than exclusively concentrating on present requirements.


  1. Betancourt, L. (2011). GM foods advantages and disadvantages. Retrieved from http://www. livestrong. com/article/422846-gm-foods-advantages-disadvantages/
  2. Cullen, K. (2006). Biology: The people behind the science. New York, NY: Chelsea House.
  3. Giorgio, V. (2008). Genetically modified food. Retrieved from http://scienceray. om/technology/applied-science/genetically-modified-food/
  4. National Geographic. (2012). 100 scientific discoveries that changed the world: Genetically modified organisms. Special publication, pp. 52-53.
  5. Panse, S. (2011). The Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Food. Retrieved from http://www. brighthub. com/science/genetics/articles/23358. aspx#secn_3
  6. Whitman, D. (2000). Genetically modified foods: harmful or helpful? Retrieved from http://www. csa. com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview. php
  7. Yount, L. (2006). Modern Genetics: Engineering life. New York, NY: Chelsea House

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