Genetic Engineering refers to the direct manipulation of the genetic information of living beings. The genes, embedded in the DNA, are the blueprints of life which determine particular traits in an organism. With Biotechnology, Genetic Engineers are able to replace these genes from one organism to another, resulting in completely new combinations of traits which do not occur in nature. These Genetically Modified Organisms are artificially enhanced to express desired characteristics that are useful to us. While GM foods introduces plenty of new possibilities that is beneficial, such as increased nutritional value, high crop yields, it also posses a wide range of risks on human health, natural environment and can have serious unpredicted long-term consequences.
The genetic engineering of human foods has been a topic of debate for decades. Despite all the controversies and protests, GM crops and plants have been in our diet for quite a long time. The first commercially grown genetically engineered food was a tomato named ‘Flavr Savr’. Produced by the Californian company ‘Calgene,’ the tomato was able to resist the process of natural rotting.() It was granted license for human consumption by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1994.() From then on varieties of GM foods have replaced our natural diet. As of 2013, roughly 85% of corn, 91% of soybeans, and 88% of cotton produced in the United States are genetically modified.() According to recent estimates, 75% of all the processed foods contain genetically modified genes.() This sudden rise of GMOs is the result of the ever increasing demand of food with limited agricultural land. The current global population is about 7.1 billion and the UN projections show that it is expe...
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...y that genetically engineered crops and plants will be restricted in farms and there will be no opportunity for them to reproduce with the wild species, but even they believe risk is certain.
Genetic Engineering is certainly a breakthrough in biotechnology with potential to stop the global food crisis and malnutrition. It has the possibility to remove the immense pressure on agriculture with more yields and less land. With less land required for agriculture, genetic engineering can restore the lost ecosystems in the environment. But the potential harms of GE products is unpredictable and unforeseeable. Rather than creating new ecosystems, its known and unknown effects can create great disturbance in the entire global environment. Thus genetic engineering can create irreparable damage to our natural environment and threatens the existence of the living earth.
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