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Biotechnology Position Paper

Essay by   •  October 21, 2010  •  2,061 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,467 Views

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Biotechnology Position Paper

Genetically engineered and modified foods are not only one of the worlds prime concerns, but have recently developed into one of the most widely debated issues in all of North America. Arguments aside, the problem is going to be one that the world is going to have to feel the results of, whether prepared or not. Newly expanded research regarding biotechnology presents a willing audience with a whole new outlook on just how far scientific investigation and expansion can go. The accelerating rate, at which these new progressions are being made, is a potential threat to the health of the people who are deemed the so called guinea pigs. Although it is deemed by some that genetically modified foods that are approved are considered by the government to be safe as their traditional counterpart there are still many effects that serve consideration before being labeled as "safe". The outcome of these new manufactured goods is still unfamiliar to the consumer because the products are just too new and innovated at this point. Through the examination of the effects of engineered crops on agriculture, the experimentation and distribution concerns, and the scientific evaluation of increased toxicity levels and antibiotic immunities, one will unmistakably be able to see how genetically engineered and modified foods are not a trend that citizens should not buy into.

The heightened and newfound interest in genetically engineered food should be looked upon with a watchful eye and should not be granted credibility until the consumer is sufficiently advised on the potential environmental effects that they can have on the land. There are still unknown mechanisms of genetic modification and breeding when pertaining to genetically modified crops. For one, scientists continually have to deal with unintended effects of random insertion of DNA. (Dewar, 2003) This can lead to any number of negative effects in the crop including, unbalanced levels of chemical, changes in enzymes, phenotypes and metabolites, and unappealing crops in appearance. Supporters of genetically engineered crops believe that this is a problem that can easily be overcome by better standardization, validation of measurements, and databases on natural variations but there still seam to be these various worries that keep the issue so strong. Some question the dependability of present-day genome databases and believe that there is not an adequate proofreading system, which leads to some of the problems at hand. (Isaac, 2001) While others suggest that there is not enough known about DNA and chromosome structures and functions and that is why there arte still so many questionable actions in the process. Pest and stress tolerance is problematic and disputed as well because with the development of such immunities to adapt to different environments, mutations can occur within the plan. Food quality is jeopardized through the modification of natural elements and centuries of reproducing as well. (McHughen, 2003) Suddenly there is more DNA crossing and gene splicing taking place, so much so that many foods are unable to produce the way they could before. Also there is a lack of nutrients in the foods, compared to the actual foods pre-genetically modified. The promotions being made by pre-GM scientific establishments must be looked upon closely, as their words defining "food quality" may be misleading. (McHughen, 2003) For example, such words as "vitality" and "wholesomeness" can be very confusing as they imply that the food is good in all senses of the word. The word "wholesomeness," implies that eh quality belongs to the whole organism and cannot be found by assessing the chemical composition. While "vitality" simply means the quality of being alive, and to be alive is to be full of life, and full of the constructive drive that sustains life. So in this sense, wholesomeness and vitality and closely related, have more of a positive connotation and seem to drown out all of the negative scientific facts that lay behind the words. While they may satisfy the criteria of statistical significance applied to "scientific" tests accepted by an institution, they lack conceptual basis that could provide as explained based on reason and therefore make it quite difficult to distinguish between the truth and the glossy words that cover the truth from the consumer. It is only with this rational that consumers will be able to draw their own conclusions about what shy deem as safe for themselves, given the nature that the underlying scientific facts have in their ability to keep away from public knowledge.

Harmful effects of genetically modified foods and experimentation are as well, continuous and abundant in numbers, including newly recognized possible allergic reactions and recently discovered decreased nutritional value in certain crops that have been influenced by biotechnology. Food allergies alone affect approximately 5% of children and 2% of adults, making it a rather large public health threat on its own. (Sexton, 2004) This reaction occurs when a normally harmless protein enters the body and stimulates an immune response. The concern that protein from GM foods known to have come from a source that can cause allergies, could extract an immune response in humans is very real and is one that pre-GM scientists have a diminutive amount to argue against. The only thing that can hold their case strongly is the fact that there have been no confirmed cases on an allergic reaction occurring as a result of ingesting a GM crop. (Jones, 2004) But an outcome of evidence from an artificial environment outside a living organism suggests that GM products could cause an allergic reaction to occur. (Sexton, 2004) As well and without surprise, theories have been developed as a result of this statement declaring that GM foods have less nutritional quality than non-genetically modified ones. It has been said that a GM foods with diminished nutritional value make some nutrients either unavailable or indigestible to humans. This takes a lot of the interest value in this technology, because the sole reason one should eat is to obtain those nutrients to fuel the body. Several trials have been conducted to prove these findings credible, and a few solid examples were accurately and precisely found. One of these examples came from a study showing that a strain of genetically modified soybean produced lower levels of phytoestrogen, than traditional soybean. This is significant because phytoestrogen is believed to protect against heart disease and cancer, so a person who ingest this genetically modifies version may be cheated out of nutritional value and be forced to suffer to consequences through their own health. (Lutzer, 2003) Again, the challenge of asking the GM scientists to comment on these new deliberations

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