Academic journal article Competition Forum

Genetically Engineered Food and Genetically Modified Organisms

Academic journal article Competition Forum

Genetically Engineered Food and Genetically Modified Organisms

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are two types of plant breeding: the traditional method and the genetic engineering method. The FDA describes the difference between the two methods as the traditional method can produce unwanted effects, while the genetically engineered process can control the effects produced as shown in Figure 1. The six largest genetic engineering companies in the world are Monsanto, which holds the largest market share, Pioneer Hi- Bred International, Syngenta AG, Dow Agrosciences, BASF and Bayer Cropscience (Biology Fortified, 2013).

A genetically engineered food is also known as genetically modified food. According to Medline Plus (2013), a website produced by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, ?Genetically engineered foods have had foreign genes (genes from other plants or animals) inserted into their genetic codes. Genetic engineering can be done with plants, animals, or microorganisms,? and it is a topic that has been an ongoing debate due to consumer safety and exposure to new allergies or health risks. In the words of Naik, (2010), an author who has written extensively on environmental issues:

The history of producing genetically modified food can be traced back to mid-19th century, when Gregor Mendel - an Austrian monk and botanist, carried out an experiment wherein he crossbred tall pea species with short pea species to show that certain traits in one species were inherited by other in this process. Even though Mendel is considered to be the founder of science of genetics today, his efforts were not acknowledged until 20th century. Mendel's observations paved way for the development of first genetically modified plant - an antibiotic resistant tobacco plant, in 1983. (GM Foods)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered regulations around the processing, labeling and selling of products containing genetically modified organisms to ensure consumers are aware that the products they are purchasing may contain genes not directly related to that product. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has also played a significant role in regulating and permitting genetically modified products. The debates contain strong arguments for and against the genetic modification of genes, despite that fact that no actual research has concluded harmful or beneficial results.

ISSUES CONCERNING GMOS

Main concerns of those opposed to genetically engineered foods are allergies and unintended exposure to genes or chemicals that may contain harmful reactions. The Institute of Responsible Technology (IRT) recently reported (Climate, 2013) that there may be a direct link to a spike in Americans with gluten allergies, stating that ?a team of experts suggests that GM foods may be an important environmental trigger for gluten sensitivity, which is estimated to affect as many as 18 million Americans? (p. 48).

In addition to the issue of gluten allergies, consumers are worried that the cross-contamination may cause unexpected allergic reactions due to genes found in peanut products, for example, being injected into tomatoes or soy products, which would not naturally contain the peanut gene (Mount, 2012). A series of studies on animals was conducted by Global Research and concluded GMOs can cause harmful effects, based on results such as death, gastro-bleeding, abnormal cell growth, false pregnancy or infertility, severe allergic reactions (headaches, itching, inflammation, rashes, etc.), pancreas problems, liver inflammation and organ damage (Lendman, 2013).

As reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Antoniou, Fagan and Robinson (2012) presented evidence about GMOs, which support the findings in the animal studies that GMOs are harmful and come at a costly price. According to Fagan, ?Crop genetic engineering as practiced today is a crude, imprecise and outmoded technology. It can create unexpected toxins or allergens in foods and affect their nutritional value. …

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