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Concerns and Issue of Genetically Modified Food

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Genetically modification safety has remained a mystery since its development in 1973 (Rangel, 2015). Scientists and various organizations have performed a wide range of experiments to examine the safeness of the issue of genetically modified food (GMF). The experiment results show that not only is GMF safe, but it also brings various benefits. While the results have strongly emphasized its advantageous aspects, none of the results clearly show GMF does not cause potential risks to humans and the environment. Thus, most people tend to believe that genetically modified food is nutritious enough to replace the traditionally grown food and thus produces larger amounts of food supply for human needs. However, the lack of sufficient research evidence brings unsafety concerns about human health, food security, and environmental issues.

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As the most advanced creature on Earth, humans nowadays put their interest and health in the first place. As technology improves, genetically modification techniques have greatly improved over the years. Moreover, these techniques are also used in food and organisms. After various experiments and examinations, people start to believe GM food does not have any safety concerns. Therefore, some governments allow specific approved of GM food to get into the market. However, some opposing scientists argue that drawbacks may occur later on. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), toxins in some natural plants can be toxic to humans when consumed in large amounts. Thus, they further investigated the possible similar changes that genetically modified crops might occur. Although the results reveal certain problems of plant toxins may improve by altering the crops genetically, NCBI states that there are some unknown potential risks to human health. NCBI claims there are two general sources of effects that can affect food safety: genetic changes on food characteristics and DNA changes (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2016). The organization further emphasizes that unanticipated effects may lead to food safety concerns. Therefore, they highly suggest further examinations of genetically altered food or crops be carried on. Another risk of genetically modified food is also mentioned in an article on the ProQuest website. The article gives an example of possible allergens that may pass on to humans from food. The experiment result brings up an example in the past showing that a specific genetically altered corn, StarLink (TM) corn, may cause humans to be exposed to allergens. The StarLink corn comprises a specific protein, Cry9C, which is heat stable and resistant to stomach acids and enzymes (Brandner, 2002). These are all characteristics of human allergens. Thus, governments put restrictions on StarLink corn for human use. However, the company that withheld these prohibited corn failed to follow the restriction order well, so part of them went into the market. Later, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received approximately 34 reports of adverse reactions to corn products which may contain StarLink (UCDavis Center for Consumer Research, 2017). The Center for Consumer Research of UCDavis further states the Cry9C is only a small fraction of corn protein, so the possibility that protein would sensitize an individual is low (UCDavis Center for Consumer Research, 2017). Examinations on the 34 reports later reveal 20 of them were very unlikely a result of an allergic reaction (UCDavis Center for Consumer Research, 2017). However, the conclusion also highly suggested people might develop an allergic reaction in the future. With all the uncertainties, the safety of genetically modified food remains doubtful. Therefore, the caution alerted by experiments by scientists and organizations still unfolds the safety concerns of genetically modified food on human health.

Other than humans, genetically modified food also affects other organisms and crops, which are also what humans consume. As stated by Earth Open Source, DNA fragments derived from genetically altered plant materials may occasionally be detected in animals (Earth Open Source, n. d.). Moreover, genetically modified feed (GM feed) has been found to negatively affect the health of animals that eat it (Earth Open Source, n. d.). Although some may argue that the genetically modified DNA and protein are digested by animals before it can further generate any effects, genetically modified DNA can still be found in milk and meat from GM-fed animals. The article concludes that a diet containing genetically altered food can damage animals’ health and even humans who consume these sick animals. Overall, food security will become a big issue in our ecological system, since herbivores can easily take up the genetically modified DNA and continue passing down to other carnivores. This circulation within the food chain may affect all creatures’ health and ultimately affect human health.

References

  1. Brandner, D. L. (2002). Detection of genetically modified food: Has your food been genetically modified? Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/pqrl/docview/219031609/882052F68C9348A1PQ/1?accountid=134641
  2. Earth Open Source. (n.d.). Myth: GM animal feed poses no risks to animal or human health.
  3. Retrieved from
  4. https://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/3-health-hazards-gm-foods/3-10-myth-gm-animal-feed-poses-risks-animal-human-health/
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2016, May 17). Human Health Effects of Genetically Engineered Crops. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424534/
  6. Rangel, G. (2015, August 9). From Corgis to Corn: A Brief Look at the Long History of GMO Technology. Retrieved from http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/from-corgis-to-corn-a-brief-look-at-the-long-history-of-gmo-technology/
  7. UCDavis Center for Consumer Research. (2017, June 28). StarLink Corn: What Happened. Retrieved from https://ccr.ucdavis.edu/biotechnology/starlink-corn-what-happened
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