Danger Of Use Genetically Modified Organisms
Nowadays, the topic of using genetically modified foods (GMF) is very relevant. And while scientists around the world argue about the dangers and benefits of these products, millions of people already use them, being in happy ignorance.
Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are created by genetics, a science that allows a DNA fragment from any other organism to be introduced into the genome of a plant, animal, or microorganism in order to impart certain properties to it.
The reason for the appearance of genetically modified products
Now the world has around 8 billion people. Scientists predict that by the end of the century, the world’s population could increase to 10 billion. One of the main problems faced by humanity is the lack of food. In this regard, the most productive biotechnologies are being introduced into agriculture. One of such technologies is genetic engineering, with the help of which genetically modified products are created.
The experiments with the creation of genetically modified organisms began in the 70s of the XX century. In 1992, pesticide-resistant tobacco was grown in China. In 1994, genetically modified (GM) tomatoes, resistant to transportation, appeared in the USA. Since that time, GMF production has gained momentum and now we can meet GM soybeans, corn, rice, potatoes, tomatoes, sugar beets, salmon, which can live in both salt and fresh water, and many other organisms.
The first genetically modified product was a tomato. These tomatoes were able to lie for months in an immature form at the temperature of 12 degrees. But as soon as such tomatoes were placed into the worm environment, it becomes ripe in a few hours.
The main question is do we need transgenic products or not?
Proponents of the GMF claim that genetic engineering will save the growing population of the earth from hunger because genetically modified plants can exist on less fertile soils, produce a richer harvest, and then be stored for a longer time.
On the other hand, for many people, the question of genetic engineering is moral. Scientific interest pushes geneticists to create mutants such as, for example, a rabbit glowing in the dark, which receives the gene responsible for fluorescence from jellyfish. Opponents consider such experiments as violence against nature.
Risks of growing and eating genetically modified foods
Growing and consuming genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is accompanied by several risks. First, at all, Ecologists fear that genetically modified forms may accidentally get into the wild environment and cause catastrophic changes in ecosystems.
For example, in cross-pollination, weeds can get a pest and pesticide resistance gene from GMOs. Then the multiplication of weeds will be uncontrollable. Self-regulation in ecosystems will break. Weeds will supplant many species incapable of competing against them and will occupy vast territories that will constantly expand.
In addition to environmental risks associated with the problems of growing GMOs, there are food risks. The use of a transgenic product obtained by transplanting a Brazil nut gene into soybean DNA has caused many people to become allergic to the foreign protein. Pesticide-resistant plant varieties (for example, GM soybeans and corn) can accumulate harmful substances and cause poisoning when eaten.
Pluses of GMOs
- Selection of plants and animals is much faster. There are species that are resistant to the negative effects of the environment, possessing the qualities needed by humans now.
- Cheaper production. The emergence of genetically modified potato varieties, which the Colorado potato beetle does not eat, made it possible not to spend millions on pesticides.
- Growing plants enriched with vitamins. ‘Golden rice’ with a high content of vitamin A, is a stumbling block for environmentalists. Forbidden and not allowed for 12 years. As a result, the ban was nevertheless canceled. During the prohibition of non-authorization, 8 million children in China died from a lack of vitamin A.
- GMO – plants are not afraid of transportation, are better stored, and allow you to get several harvests per year
Minuses of GMOs
With the pluses figured out. With minutes, it’s a bit more complicated. GMOs, despite the hype inflated by the media, cannot be called definitely harmful. For now, they are considered to be potentially dangerous. To fully clarify the harm of GMOs, long and expensive experiments are needed.
Research data by Arpad Pushtai, Gilles-Erik Séralini, and Irina Ermakova on the relationship of cancer in rats that received GMO products as laboratory nutrition were published. But with a careful study of this data, it becomes clear that, the scientific purity of the experiment was not kept. But, were confirmed the studies of French scientists of the toxicity of genetically modified corn.
And yet there are some negative consequences of the use of GM food.
- Allergic reactions, either to the GMO product itself or to the starting material.
- It is possible the appearance of the microflora of the mucous membrane, immune to the actions of antibiotics, or reacting to them in an unpredictable way.
- The use of genetically modified products is likely to provoke the development of cancer, the emergence of new viruses, or the activation of already known ones.
- The probability of extinction of many plant species.
- There is a high probability that GM organisms can mutate. A well-known example is the bright green genetically modified salmon. In addition to the colors, the “monster fish” was notable for its gigantic size and weight of more than 250 kg.
Anyway, on the one hand, the area of crops of transgenic plants is constantly increasing, on the other – in Japan, China, and EU countries, mandatory labeling of products containing genetically modified organisms has been introduced. The most optimal option, according to many scientists, is the ‘peaceful coexistence of transgenic and ordinary plants and animals, and the consumer himself must choose which type of product to use. It should be remembered that absolutely safe products do not exist.
GM organisms can bring both great evil and great good. The discovery of the reaction of thermonuclear fusion of light nuclei opened up unlimited possibilities for physicists, and led to the creation of a hydrogen bomb, quantum mechanics spawned an atomic bomb and tomographs saving millions of people. There are no discoveries of good or bad, there are people in whose hands are the keys to human destinies.
- A.S. Bawacorresponding author and K.R. Anilakumar. “Genetically modified foods: safety, risks and public concerns”, J Food Sci Technol. 2013 Dec; 50(6): 1035–1046. Published online 2012 Dec 19. doi: 10.1007/s13197-012-0899-1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3791249/
- Layla Katiraee. Genetic Literacy Project: 10 times science challenged ‘studies’ suggesting GMOs are harmful. January 25, 2019 https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2019/01/25/10-times-science-challenged-studies-suggesting-gmos-are-harmful/
- Hotze Health. DANGERS OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS (GMO FOODS) July 19th, 2018 https://www.hotzehwc.com/2018/07/dangers-of-genetically-modified-foods-gmo-foods/
- World Health Organization: Food safety. Frequently asked questions on genetically modified foods. May 2014 https://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically-modified-food/en/
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