Genetically modified foods refer to crop plant-produced human and animal use using the new molecular biology methods. The plants are adapted in the laboratory to enhance them with desired traits such as improved nutrition content and increased resistance to herbicides. The enhancement of the desired traits was traditionally got through breeding. Conventional plant breeding techniques are time consuming and at times may lack accuracy. Genetic engineering produces plants that have the desired traits and are fast and very accurate. For instance, plant geneticists can separate a gene responsible for drought tolerance and insert it in a different plant. The new plant gains the same traits of drought resistance as the old one. Genes can be transferred from one plant to another and also from one organism to another. The best known case is the use of B.t genes in corn and other plants. Bacillus thuringiensis is a bacterium that arises naturally and produces proteins crystals that are poisonous to insect larvae. The crystal proteins are transferred to a corn plant that enables it to produce its pesticides against insects like European corn borer. The world population is increasing at a very high rate, and it is expected to double in the next fifty years. Ensuring enough supply of food to this booming population will be quite challenging in the years to follow. However, genetically modified food promises to meet this need in several ways. First, by providing crops that are pest resistant to farmers. Crop losses from insect pest can be disturbing leading to the devastating loss for farmers and hunger or starvation in developing countries. Farmers use many tons of chemicals on chemicals in their farms per year. Consumers do not wish to take food that is treated with pesticides because of potential health problems. Run off of agricultural wastes from excessive use of fertilizers and chemicals can poison water supply and harm the environment. Growing genetically modified foods like B.t. Corn can help remove the application of chemical pesticide and decrease the cost of taking the crop to the market. For some crops, it is expensive to remove weeds by physical methods such as tilling. Farmers spray large quantities of different herbicides or weed killers to destroy weed. It is a very expensive and time-consuming process that needs care to prevent the herbicide from harming the crop or the environment. Crop plants that are genetically engineered to be resistant to herbicides could help in preventing environmental damage by decreasing the quantity of herbicide that is required. For example, Monsanto has formed a genetically modified soya bean that is not affected by the herbicide product Roundup. Farmers grow these soya beans that require only one application of weed-killer instead of many applications hence reducing the production cost and limiting the dangers of agricultural waste run-off. Genetically modified foods that are disease resistant are very helpful to farmers. There are several fungi, bacteria and viruses that cause plant diseases. Plant biologist is carrying out research and working to come up with crops that are genetically engineered to resist diseases. Unexpected frost can harm and destroy sensitive seedling. An antifreeze gene removed from cold water plant has been transferred to plants such as potato and tobacco. The antifreeze gene enables these plants to withstand cold temperatures that would destroy the unmodified seedling.Another advantage of using genetically modified foods is their nutrition content. Most of the third countries are facing the problem of malnutrition. The impoverished people mainly rely on one type of staple food for their diet. Rice is the main diet in these countries and does not contain enough amount of the entire required nutrient to prevent malnutrition. If the rice is genetically engineered to provide the necessary nutrients, the problem of malnutrition could be alleviated (Freedman, 43). For instance, blindness caused by lack of vitamin A is a common problem in the developing countries. Researchers at Swiss had created a golden strain of rice containing an unusual amount of vitamin A hoping to offer it to any developing country that requested for it. However, the campaign against genetically modified food in Europe, has not granted the sale of this grain in the market. Medicines and vaccines are very expensive to produce and sometimes needs special storage methods that are not easily available in the third world nations. Researchers are working to come up with edible vaccines in potatoes and tomatoes. The vaccines will become easier to store, ship and administer than the old injectable vaccines. The world population is increasing at a booming rate and most of the land used for food production is being utilized for putting up house. Farmers are forced to cu9ltivate in new grounds that were not formerly used for cultivation (Wu,34). Creating crops that can tolerate long durations of drought or high content of salt in the soil and groundwater will help farmers grow plants in formerly inhospitable lands.Another advantage of genetically modified food is phytoremediation. Not all genetically modified plants are grown for the purpose of producing foods. Soil and groundwater contamination is one of the most prevalent problems in the world today. Plant like poplar trees is genetically engineered in order to clean up heavy metal pollution on the contaminated soils. Genetically engineered food is quite prevalent in the world today. According to the United State Department of Agriculture and FDA, there are over forty plants varieties that have met the federal requirement for sale. Some examples of these plants are cantaloupes and tomatoes that are modified with ripening characteristics, sugar beets and soybeans modified to herbicides resistance, cotton plants and corn with increased resistance to insect pests. Not all of these products are present in the supermarket though genetically modified food is very widespread in the U.S groceries than commonly thought (Nelson, 23). There are very few genetically modified vegetables and fruits on the produce stand but highly processed foods like breakfast cereals and vegetable oils small amount genetically-modified ingredients because the raw material is got from one main processing stream using different sources. Thirteen countries in the world grew genetically modified food in 2000 and U.S led with the most produce. Soybeans and corn are the most common crops grown and consisted eighty-two percent of the crops grown in 2000. Global acreage of genetically modified food is increasing in a very fast rate. The advantages discussed genetically modified food, shows the importance of having this plants in our society. Improvement in health, increase in food yield and growing crops that are resistant to hostile condition will boost the economy of the country. Healthy people can work more efficiently and produce good results than ill and starved people (Kreipe, 2010). It is the duty of the producers to enlighten people on the great value of this food and law restricting their sale to allow them if they meet the required standards. Genetically modified food should not be made with harmful contents that affect the health of people.The manufacturers should provide clear and correct labels on the foods. This will make easier for persons with allergies to avoid such foods and those who are not affected to acquire them easily. Genetically modified food, can deal with many of the global hunger and malnutrition problem. They can also help in shielding and conserving the environment by increasing production and minimizing the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides (Carter, 22). Government faces the challenge in areas of international and food labeling, safety testing and regulation. Most people feel that genetic engineering is the adaptable wave of the future and people cannot afford to ignore a technology that has big potential benefits to the population. However, care should be taken so as not to cause unintended harm to people and environment as a result of using this new technology.
Carter, Colin A, Giancarlo Moschini, and Ian M. Sheldon. Genetically Modified Food and
Global Welfare. Bingley, UK: Emerald, 2011. Print.
Kreipe, Marie. Genetically Modified Food: Trade Regulation in View of Environmental Policy
Objectives. Hamburg: Diplomica-Verl, 2010. Print.
Freedman, Jeri. Everything You Need to Know About Genetically Modified Foods. New York:
Rosen Pub. Group, 2012. Print.
Nelson, Gerald C. Genetically Modified Organisms in Agriculture: Economics and Politics. San
Diego, Calif: Academic Press, 2011. Internet resource.
Wu, Felicia, and William P. Butz. The Future of Genetically Modified Crops: Lessons from the
Green Revolution. Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 2009. Internet resource.