What is Genetic Modification?

Genetic modification is the use of biotechnology to alter the genetic makeup of an organism’s cells. This is not a natural method, but is in fact carried out by genetic engineers. This scientific technique is carried out for a variety of purposes and one of them is Genetically Modified Foods (GMO Foods).

Genetically Modified Foods

Simply put, an organism that is a product of genetic engineering is known as genetically modified. This technology has been tested on a variety of organisms to produce: Glofish, insulin producing bacteria, etc. Genetically modified foods are also the product of genetic modification. These foods now occupy the major portion in the markets. It is reported thatalmost 80% of the processed food available in the USA is genetically modified food. A GMO food is not a new plant or animal species. Instead, it is induced with special characteristics as per the needs of the people. For example, an apple that does not go brown when peeled off, is a genetically modified fruit. Now is this a good idea or a bad one?

A good idea

  • Less need for herbicides and pesticide:

    It has been proposed that growing genetically modified crops would actually lead to a decrease in the amount of herbicides and insecticides being sprayed.

  • Increase in desired constituents:

    Through genetic modification, new and useful characteristics can be introduced into the product. These can include the nutritional value of a fruit. They can also be made resistant to viruses.

  • Endless possibilities:

    The GMO foods offer a wide range of possibilities as it is more exact than the process of selective breeding.

  • Answer to food shortages:

    Genetically modified food can be a back-up when things go awry, especially when countering ‘population inflation’. In third world countries where hundreds and thousands of people are dying every day due to extreme starvation, this could be the solution.

  • Less reliance on energy:

    They require less amount of ploughing and other activities for growing plants. As a result, there is equally less burden on the exhaustible fossil fuels.

A bad idea

The whole idea of GMO foods is still quite controversial. In some parts of the world like in EU foods they are banned. Those against it proclaim that it is unhealthy. Some are even concerned about the impact it will have on the environment. Then there is opposition against it by those who find it wrong, ethically and religiously. But statistics have shown that at present there is no harm induced by GMO foods on human beings. At the same time there are many questions left unanswered. As a result, people are not generally satisfied and are hesitant when it comes to buying Genetically Modified Foods.

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