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 phytoestrogens, than traditional soybean. This is significant because 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 would be interesting and surely would draw new mind-sets on the validity of the statements claiming that GM crops are safe, and a better choice. With these conclusions drawn, one would wonder how other people would react to these new findings that present allergy hazards and decreased nutritional values in foods and whether or not that would be enough of an incentive to not buy them and discourage further research and production of them. As scientific evaluation and testing continues, many issues are raised on the validity of claims that there are possible increased toxicity levels in genetically modified foods and that there is a change that with the production of this kind of food, that certain antibiotic immunities can alter. The toxicity of plants is a widely debated issue by supporters of biotechnology because of the fact that most plants do produce toxic substances in minute amounts, so by many it is widely believed that there would be no adverse effects on humans. (Mai-Wan, 2004) This, in actual fact is not the case, as levels of increased toxicity in plants are a direct result of the creation and experimentation processes of producing genetically engineered foods. At any point in time an oversight during scientific procedure could cause gene mutation within the plant.
This would result in either a physically deformed plant, or increased and decreased levels of substances within the plant, which otherwise without tampering would have been completely normal. This could be unseen to the human eyes, leaving the consumers oblivious to the mistakes and unaware of any harmful effects. Slip-ups or inaccuracy could also occur during the process of inserting genes into plants. (Isaac, 2001) A new gene could easily interfere with a metabolic pathway resulting in plant response whereby it produces toxins at a staggeringly higher rate than previous to such experimentation.
Any mishaps or procedural difficulties could lead to these "invisible" deformities that the unknowing purchaser could very well be eating for dinner. Although there have been no solid cases that any food has been sold to a buyer that had been genetically engineered and possessed these dangerously high levels of toxins, they have in fat been observed through conventional breeding methods, which still draw the conclusion that there is such a safety concerns to be had for GM plants. (Mae-Wan, 2004) The only solid example that has been exposed that models this unease was the potatoes that were conventionally bred fro increased diseases resistance. These potatoes provided evidence to have produced higher levels of, which are the toxic compounds found in potatoes, such as sola nine and chaco nine. (Devinder, 2003) Alongside that threat, in addition is the dispute that it has been recently noted that an increasing number of bacterial strains are showing resistance to antibiotics. This is something that will be almost impossible to prevent in the production of GM foods because it is a process that occurs through natural mutation.
(Jones, 2004) It is only natural that if a plant has a problem, over time, its genetics tissue is going to try to adapt and change to prevent that problem in the future. The difficulty lies in the early stages of the method where scientists don't know if their target plant will integrate the new gene into its genome. The only way that the scientists are aware as to whether or not the antibiotic resistance has been obtained by the plant is if the plant survives. Mutation is simply an act of evolution through plants, that scientists will have a hard time to prevent because there aren't any restraints against it from occurring. The concerns here lies in the fact that humans could be eating this food and have the potential risk of picking up the antibiotic resistant gene from the plant before the DNA is completely digested.
If the threat got this far the risk would be obvious. That being that scientists will no long have to deal with plants developed with plants developing antibiotics resistance, they will have to deal with the rate at which humans would be developing a resistance to antibiotics, a game one would guess, they would not be prepared. With the arguments provided, one could undoubtedly decide against the production and auxiliary research of biotechnology and more specifically, genetically engineered foods. The observable problems and concerns that come along with this experimental testing and distribution of possibly harmful foods into society is a concern that causes many people to voice their opinion. The agricultural effects and several experimentation and testing problems lead to the lucid results that this is not the right direction to be headed towards for scientific discoveries. The severe influence that this new idea is having on societies is truly unnerving and requires immediate action to halt the continuance of further developments.
With the right mindset and clarification of facts, societies will be able to rid of the potentially dangerous solutions and start coming up with some plausible ones. Bibliography By: Shay an NedaeiDecember 11, 2004 Devinder, Sharma. (2003) Institutes of Science in Society. GM-Free Food Aid. 1-4 Dew are, Denise. (2003).
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