Genetically Modified Organisms And The Health Benefits Of Gm Foods Essay

Genetically Modified Organisms And The Health Benefits Of Gm Foods Essay

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Genetically modified (GM) foods has been hotly debated for the better part of two decades. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are species in which the genetic make-up has been altered to achieve a certain purpose, such as insect resistance in crops, or greater nutritional benefit from food (Taylor and Hefle, 2001). Consumer mistrust and information asymmetry are thought to be the main drivers behind the controversy against GM foods. In fact, 60% of the respondents to a survey performed by Gaskell et al. (2004), admitted to “skepticism” in regards to the benefit and safety of GM foods. In response to this public uncertainty, this paper will elaborate on the health benefits of GM foods for humans and animals, as well as confront the major trepidations around genetically modified foods.
Genetically modified organisms can be used to generate more nutritious food. Vitamin A deficiency is a condition that can be resolved through genetically modified foods. “Golden-rice” has transgenes from daffodils and Pantoea ananatis (a bacterium), which increases the production of provitamin A (Beyer, 2010). Deficiencies in vitamin A can lead to blindness, defective immune responses, and disruption in bone development (Beyer, 2010). Producing products such as “golden-rice” demonstrates the potential for genetically modified foods. Further development of GM foods that target other nutritional deficiencies, could be an effective means of combating malnutrition in the world. Bermúdez-Humarán et al. (2011) demonstrated the potential for genetically modified lactobacillus to act as a prophylactic vaccine delivery system. Treating gastrointestinal illness, with genetically modified versions of human commensal bacteria, could be a new avenue for treat...


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Genetically modifying food will always remain a controversial issue. Despite the possibility of eliminating vitamin A deficiency and developing new vaccine delivery methods, opposition to GMOs continues to exist. Unsubstantiated claims of toxins and tumours only frighten the general public and fuels the anti-GMO campaign. But for centuries, humans have been selectively modifying the genomes of plants through selective crosses. Modern agricultural crops differ greatly from the original wild type species, but can still be referred to as “organic.” Clearly further research is required in order to certify the safety of GM foods. The current safety ambiguity and the term “genetic modification” creates uncertainty that will inevitably divide individuals. But as the world population continues to grow, genetically modified foods may be the only way to feed the human race.

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