Genetically modified Organism (GMO) foods are the foods derived from organisms whose genetic material i.e. DNA has been modified in a way that does not occur in a natural way.
It is done through the introduction of a gene from different organism. This technology is often referred as “modern bio-technology” or “genetic / gene technology”, other names are DNA technology and genetic engineering.
Currently available GMO foods are mostly plant based, but in the future foods derived from GMO animals are likely to be introduced on the market. Most of the existing genetically modified crops are developed to increase/improve yield through the introduction of resistance to plant diseases and increasing their tolerance to herbicides & draughts.
GMO foods can also allow for reductions in food prices through improved yields and reliability. In the future, genetic modification could be aimed towards the nutrient content of food, like reducing its allergic potential or improving the efficiency of food production systems.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are living organisms that have had their genes altered using scientific methods. GMOs can be plants, animals or bacteria, but most often they are crops like corn or potatoes that have been tweaked in a lab to increase the amount or quality of food they produce.
Selective breeding techniques have been used to alter the genetic of plants for thousands of years. Recently, genetic engineering has enabled humans to take DNA from one specie and insert into different specie to create genetically modified organisms.
Examples of GMOs include ‘GM apples’ that don’t turn brown and disease resistant papayas. At least 27 countries, including the United States, grow genetically modified crops. While 18 of 28 European Union nations have partially or fully banned GMOs to be introduced.
Food and ingredients from genetically engineered plants are in our food since the 1990s. US Department of Agriculture (USDA), has approved over 17,000 different GMOs crops for field trials, including varieties of corn, soybean, potato, tomato, wheat, rapeseed (canola) and rice, with various genetic level modifications. Such as herbicide tolerance, insect resistance, flavor and some nutrition enhancement, drought resistance, and fungal resistance since 1985.
Coming to the burning points associated to this technology. What are advantages & disadvantages of GMOs? Can we rely on GMOs? What is the future of GMOs?
ADVANTAGES OF GMOs FOOD
GMOs are designed to supply more than usual in every aspect like extra healthy, extra fast growing, and additional immune to weather or pests. Because scientist of gene-splicing can select the foremost ideal traits to incorporate in GMOs crops, there are many advantages of modified foods.
LESS VULNERABILITY MEANS LESS PESTICIDES
GMOs may have fewer pesticides. Many GMOs crops are altered to be less susceptible to insects and other pests. Bt-corn a GMO crop that features a gene added from Bacillus, bacteria present in soil. This gene causes the corn to supply a protein that kills many pests and insects, helping to guard the corn from damage.
Rather than having to be sprayed with a expensive pesticide, these crops accompany an innate ‘pesticide’. The use of fewer pesticides in crops may cause fewer health risks for people eating them and less damage to the environment.
EXPONENTIAL GROWTH & RESULTS IN MORE AFFORDABILITY
GMOs are usually cheaper. GMO crops are bred to grow efficiently this suggests that farmers can produce an equivalent amount of food using less land, less water, and fewer pesticides than conventional crops.
Because they will save on resources, food producers also can charge lower prices for GMO foods. In some cases, the prices of foods like corn, beets, and soybeans could also be cut by 16% to 35%.
ABUNDANCE OF NUTRIENTS
GMOs are designed to possess more nutrients. Certain GMO crops are designed to supply more nutrients like vitamins or minerals.
African corn that’s modified genetically contains 2 times the amount of foliate in comparison to traditional crops, 6 times the maximum amount vitamin C in comparison to traditional crops, and 168 times more beta carotene than traditional crops.
DISADVANTAGES OF GMOs FOOD
GMO crops offer many advantages in reference to costs and nutrition, but many experts worry that they carry health risks, as well.
ALLERGIES THANKS TO CROSS BREEDING
GMOs may cause allergies. Because GMO foods contain DNA from other organisms, it’s possible that the new DNA can trigger allergies in people that wouldn’t normally be allergic thereto specific food.
Recently studies suggested that a GMO soybean crop, created using DNA from a Brazilian nut was unsafe for people with nut allergies and this crop was stopped to be released to the general public.
However, GMO foods undergo extensive allergen testing, in order that they shouldn’t necessarily be riskier than conventional crops.
MAY CAUSE ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE
GMOs may increase antibiotic resistance. When GMO scientists insert new DNA into plant cells, they’re going to often add in a further gene that creates the modified cells immune to antibiotics. They will then use an antibiotic to exterminate any plant cells that did not successfully absorb the new DNA.
Researchers are finding that these genes i.e. antibiotic resistant don’t always get away once you digest GMOs based foods, but can actually be transferred into sewage system through feces.
Some experts worry that these genes could also be absorbed into harmful bacteria found in sewers or your gut which will cause serious illnesses like infections. This suggests that the standard antibiotic treatments would be powerless against these new super-bacteria.
Not all researchers & experts agree on this concern, however some scientists argue that this sort of gene transfer is extremely unlikely and there’s little risk to humans.
As the benefits are more if strict controlled measures are taken to minimize its advantages. Future of humanity relies on GMOs based food. Population is growing exponentially & resources are getting scarce. GMOs will help to get more yields on crops utilizing fewer resources. Food & nutrition deficient areas like African counties it will be helpful for them where people suffer from nutritional deficiencies.
FUTURE OF GMO
The future is extremely promising for GMO technologies to reinforce the efforts to satisfy the longer term global needs for food, feed and fiber by doing in a sustainable and responsible way.
Conventional breeding methods, especially with the arrival of genome level technologies that are designed to both generate and exploit genetic variation so as to isolate effective alleles (variants) of genes that will produces increased yield, disease resistance, pest resistance etc.
Organic farming practices even have an area at the worldwide table where such practices add up. Agriculture may be a diverse endeavor, and if we are to achieve success we’d like to embrace that diversity.