Genetically modified foods come from organisms whose genetic properties have changed. The foods do not occur naturally. The genetic foods stem from plants in most cases but other foods are from genetically modified microorganisms and genetically modified animals. The genetically modified crops have resistance to plant diseases and a high tolerance to herbicides. The crops have high yields compared to the naturally existing plants. Another purpose of human-made genetic recombination in food is to reduce the time taken by the plant from the time of planting to harvest.
The use of the foods arising from this genetic combination is not safe to both the human beings and the environment. The use poses healthy risks to the human beings. It causes life-threatening allergies. This is because introducing a gene to a plant may cause an allergic reaction and this goes to the individual using the plant as food. The use of the genetically modified foods also causes other ailments like obesity. The genes enter into the human body and it causes abnormal growth. Scientific research conducted by British researchers show that the modified DNA from the crops find its way to intestines and causes possible health concerns. The use of the plants can cause cancer because the engineered plants increase the growth of the malignant tumors when they encounter humans (Santaniello et al, 2001). It also has effects on the immune system of the human body. A study conducted on feeding the mice with engineered food led to an immune reaction and changed the number of cells regulating the immune system. It can cause dietary restrictions because these modifications allow the introduction of the animal products to plants hence people will no longer be purely vegetarians.
The governments all over the world are doing everything possible to establish regulations guiding the processes of genetic engineering. The agencies regulating the genetically modified crops in America include the food and drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). These agencies ensure that the food products are safe for consumption. It also ensures that the chemicals and herbicides used in the process of genetic engineering are safe. It also ensures that the people have the information required on the products. These agencies conduct assessments on pesticides that might cause harm to humans and the environment (Evenson, 2004). They give out limits on the type and amount of pesticides that are used in the crops. The growers of the crops must have valid licenses for the pesticides. The pesticides must conform to the safety standards set by these agencies. The government has inspectors that periodically visit the farmers to conduct investigations to ensure full implementation of the regulations set. Failure to comply with the regulations may result in loss of licenses, fines and sometimes even jail sentences. They also have policies regarding animals
The genetically modified foods are present in the supermarkets. There are over 40 plant genetically modified plant varieties. The examples of the plants include soya beans, tomatoes, sugar beets and many more. Not all of the products get to the supermarkets but they are mostly found in grocery stores (Freedman, 2002). The foods found in supermarkets include, tomatoes, fruits and vegetable oils that have some percentages of genetically modified ingredients.
Genetically modified foods have the potential of solving hunger problems in the world and problems of malnutrition. It has helped in increasing yields and reliance on pesticides and herbicides because of the tolerance they have. However, the challenges are many and measures to ensure regulation, testing and labeling must be put in place. This will ensure that the health of humans and the environment remains in a healthy state.
Evenson, R. E. (2004). Consumer acceptance of genetically modified foods. Wallingford: CABI Pub.
Freedman, J. (2002). Everything you need to know about genetically modified foods. New York: Rosen Pub. Group.
Santaniello, V., Evenson, R. E., & Zilberman, D. (2001). Market development for genetically modified foods. Wallingford, Okon, UK: CABI.