Contrary to popular belief, the field of biotechnology is not new by any means. Archeological evidence shows that ancient Egyptians produced beer by steeping a starch source in water and then fermenting it with yeast, thus, the first form of biotechnology. Flash-forward to the mid-1800’s, scientists, with the help of Gregor Mendel’s laws of genetics, were able to successfully practice “selective breeding” amongst their crops. With this, the field of biotechnology took a huge turn. Scientists now had the understanding necessary to manipulate plants and mate them based on their desired traits. However, until recently, this was all done naturally, through plant-to-plant cross-fertilization. Nowadays, this process can occur instantly, with no need to wait for the natural life cycle of a plant. After a few groundbreaking discoveries, it became apparent that society could greatly benefit from the genetic altercation of these biological resources and consequently, biotechnology boomed.
Now, in the year of 2014, biotechnologists have the ability to do things akin to that of science fiction novels. The idea of genetically modifying plants to behave in any way we want, an idea once fantasized about many years ago, is now a reality. In our modern age, we can manipulate the actual DNA of an organism using enzymes to copy, cut and paste genes in any location or order we please. This technology is even used on the plants we consume as food, provoking a huge controversy on a global scale. This issue is most prevalent within the US though. In the year 2000, 68 percent of all the transgenic food within the world was produced in the US [Nottingham 7]. Furthermore, estimates suggest that as much as 80% of U.S. processed food may contain an ingredient from a GE crop [Lemaux 777]. With these significant statistics one would assume the American public is very opinionated on the matter, but shockingly, research by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology has shown that in 2005 Americans’ knowledge of genetically modified foods and animals continued to remain low [Pew 2]. These shocking finding prove that, as a whole, Americans are uneducated about what they are eating and how it is produced. Genetically modified organisms, or GMO’s as they are called, will not be going anytime soon so it is absolutely necessary that every US citizen become educated on this possible life-...
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...ection of “Frankenfood”.
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Lemaux, Peggy G. “Genetically Engineered Plants and Foods: A Scientist’s Analysis of the Issues (Part I).” Annual Review of Plant Biology 59 (2008): 771-812. Web of Science. Web.
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