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Gm Foods

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Gm Foods

Genetically Modifying food is a major issue facing people today. It is a very serious issue, involving human health, the environment, ethics and the future needs of the global population.

Cells in all plants and animals contain DNA, DNA is like a blueprint for life, passed down from generation to generation. Strands of DNA are made up of genes; genes carry the information that gives organisms their specific characteristics, including physical appearances, such as blue eyes or green leaves, and physiological functioning.

Genetic Modification means changing the DNA by transferring genes between different living things. For example, you could take a gene from a fish that lives in very cold seas and insert it into strawberry DNA, allowing the strawberry to survive frosts.

Some say that genetic modification of organisms first started last century. A man called Gregor Mendel was crossbreeding pea plants to create particular outcomes, such as pink flowers from red and white ones. Earlier this century scientists started crossbreeding distant plant relatives, such as two varieties of corn, to create hybrids with desirable characteristics from the two types of corn. Some of the food crops that we have now are the result of this type of crossbreeding.

The genetic manipulation of organisms that we are seeing today is a different approach of crossbreeding; it involves crossing the natural boundaries between species, even between the biological kingdoms, such as plants and animals. Genetic Modification has advance so quickly that it is possible to do things now that were unimaginable 10-20 years ago.

It is very difficult to know how Genetically Modified plants may affect human health and the environment, because not enough is know about them. It is only possible to assess new technologies after they have been in use for many years. For example, in the 1960’s people thought that nuclear power was a safe and cheap way of solving their energy problems. These days, they are questioning the safety of nuclear power after a series of accidents in Russia and America. The risks involved in Genetically Modifying plants need to be looked at thoroughly.

Some scientists are worried that some Genetically Modified foods could badly affect human health. In the survey conducted by Amy, Sarah and I, fifteen out of the eighteen people randomly chosen, responded “yes” when we asked them if they would be concerned if genetically modified plants did something to their health. For full results of the survey please see Graph 4.

Scientists often put marker genes into host DNA so they can identify a successful transfer. One of the marker genes used is to show resistance to particular antibiotics, such as ampicillin, so it is easy to see that effectiveness of antibiotics could be reduced if these marker genes enter the food chain.

Bioengineers are also concerned that new allergies may be made. For example, when a gene from brazil nuts was transferred into soybeans, people that were allergic to brazil nuts were also allergic to the genetically modified soybeans.

Science can’t really prove that genetically modified foods are safe as standard toxicology tests don’t work for food. Genetically modified food developers avoid testing whole foods , instead they try to isolate the changed portion and test that. Proponents, however, argue that even canned foods can be toxic, such as kidney beans, if they are undercooked.

Genetically modified crops could accidentally cross-pollinate crops that aren’t modified, this would lead to contaminating and increasing the spread of genetically modified foods.

Genes

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