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The Genetically Modified Foods Controversy

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The past twenty years have seen rise to a new burgeoning scientific field: genetically modified foods. During the plant breeding process, geneticists interfere with the reproduction and modify the genes of the new seedling by introducing a fragment of DNA from another organism that possesses the desired trait. With genetic modification, scientists can increase the pest, herbicide, cold, and drought tolerance so that the crop can survive in harsher climates. In some cases, the nutritional value can even be increased (Ulrich 9). Despite the obvious benefits of more nutritious foods and crops that are hardier and more resistant to harsher climates, there are some concerns surrounding GM foods. Each new alteration can cause an unforeseen allergic reaction, negate the effects of antibiotics, or potentially cause some adverse effects to the environment (Falkner 101). Every newly developed GM food must be tested on a case by case basis as there is no universal method that determines the safety of all modified components. As a result, long term effects of ingesting food with altered material are unknown. You may not know it, but in the United States GM foods are quite prevalent. Approximately 65% of foods in the U.S. contain some variation of genetically altered ingredients (Ulrich 9). And of that portion, 89% of soybeans and 61% of corn is transgenic (Powell 529). This technology came to prominence in the 1990’s and since then has been a subject of much controversy. Proponents preach the undeniable health and growing benefits of this new development. Critics rail against biotech companies for the ambiguous safety status and ethical grounds of altering natural plant growth. The center stage for this conflict is Europe. While generally similar to the U.S., this region of the world is much more outwardly suspicious and hostile towards crop alterations. In the U.S., GM foods have received little public opposition; this is largely due to the fact that food manufacturers are not required to label their products as containing genetically modified ingredients for fear of confusing consumers. Due to the lack of evidence that genetically altered foods are harmful, the Food and Drug Administration considers GM foods to be “generally regarded as safe” (known as GRAS) and no special labeling is required (Falkner 103). In the U.S., genetically modified crops are monitored by t... ... middle of paper ... ...3): 2051. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Nov. 2011. Chetty, L., and C. D. Viljoen. “GM Biotechnology: Friend And Foe?.” South African Journal Of Science 103.7/8 (2007): 269-270.Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Nov. 2011. Deal, Walter F., and Stephen L. Baird. “Genetically Modified Foods: A Growing Need.” Technology Teacher 62.7 (2003): 18. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Nov. 2011. Falkner, Robert. “The Global Biotech Food Fight: Why The United States Got It So Wrong.” Brown Journal Of World Affairs 14.1 (2007): 99-110. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Nov. 2011. Herrick, Clare B. “‘Cultures Of GM’: Discourses Of Risk And Labelling Of Gmos In The UK And EU.” Area 37.3 (2005): 286-294. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Nov. 2011. Sheldon, Ian. “Food Principles: Regulating Genetically Modified Crops After The 2006 WTO Ruling.” Brown Journal Of World Affairs 14.1 (2007): 121-134.Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Nov. 2011. Taylor, Michael R. “Rethinking US Leadership In Food Biotechnology.” Nature Biotechnology 21.8 (2003): 852-854. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Nov. 2011. Ulrich, Clare. “Safe Or Sorry?.” Human Ecology 32.3 (2005): 8-9. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Nov. 2011.
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