Saturday, April 13, 2019
The Increased Use of Genetically Modified Food Essay Example for Free
The Increased part of Genetic eachy Modified Food EssayGenetically-limited nutriments (GM foods) make water made a big splash in the news lately. European environmental organizations and public interest groups begin been actively protesting against GM foods for months, and recent disput adequate studies more or less the cause of transmittableally-modified lemon yellow pollen on monarch butterfly caterpillars1, 2 accept brought the issue of genetic engineering to the forefront of the public consciousness in the U. S. In response to the upswelling of public concern, the U. S. Food and medicine Administration (FDA) held three open meetings in Chicago, Washington, D. C., and Oakland, California to solicit public opinions and begin the process of establishing a new regulative procedure for government approval of GM foods3.I attended the FDA meeting held in November 1999 in Washington, D. C. , and here I testament attempt to summarize the issues gnarled and explain th e U. S. governments present berth in regulating GM food. What argon genetically-modified foods? The term GM foods or GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) is most comm just drug abuse to refer to p atomic number 18 bases cr saped for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biological science techniques.These coifs have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased vindication to herbicides or improved nutritional content. The enhancement of desired traits has traditionally been undertaken through breeding, but conventional plant breeding methods groundwork be very time consuming and argon often not very accurate. Genetic engineering, on the other hand, can create plants with the exact desired trait very rapidly and with great accuracy. For example, plant geneticists can isolate a gene responsible for drought tolerance and innovate that gene into a different plant.The new genetically-modified plant will gain drought tolerance a s well. Not only can genes be transferred from one plant to another, but genes from non-plant organisms also can be used. The best known example of this is the use of B. t. genes in clavus and other crops. B. t. , or Bacillus thuringiensis, is a naturally spendring bacterium that produces crystal proteins that are lethal to dirt ball larvae. B. t. crystal protein genes have been transferred into corn, enabling the corn to produce its own pesticides against insects such as the European corn borer.For two informative overviews of some of the techniques mixed in creating GM foods, visit Biotech Basics (sponsored by Monsanto) http//www. biotechknowledge. monsanto. com/biotech/bbasics. nsf/index or Techniques of specify Biotechnology from the subject field Center for Biotechnology Education http//www. ncbe. reading. ac. uk/NCBE/GMFOOD/techniques. What are some of the advantages of GM foods? The human beings population has topped 6 billion mass and is predicted to double in the nex t 50 years. Ensuring an nice food supply for this well-heeled population is going to be a major challenge in the years to come.GM foods holler to meet this need in a number of ways Pest foemanCrop losses from insect pests can be staggering, resulting in devastating financial loss for farmers and starvation in developing countries. Farmers typically use mevery tons of chemical pesticides annually. Consumers do not wish to eat food that has been treated with pesticides because of authorisation health hazards, and run-off of coarse wastes from excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers can poison the water supply and cause detriment to the environment.Growing GM foods such as B. t.corn can booster eliminate the application of chemical pesticides and subordinate the cost of bringing a crop to market4, 5. Herbicide toleranceFor some crops, it is not cost-effective to remove widows weeds by physical means such as tilling, so farmers will often spray giving quantities of differe nt herbicides (weed-killer) to overthrow weeds, a time-consuming and expensive process, that requires care so that the herbicide doesnt rail at the crop plant or the environment. Crop plants genetically-engineered to be resistant to one very powerful herbicide could help prevent environmental damage by reducing the amount of herbicides needed.For example, Monsanto has created a strain of soja beans genetically modified to be not affected by their herbicide product Roundup 6. A farmer grows these soybeans which then only require one application of weed-killer instead of multiple applications, reducing production cost and limiting the dangers of agricultural waste run-off7. Disease resistance There are many viruses, fungi and bacteria that cause plant diseases. Plant biologists are working to create plants with genetically-engineered resistance to these diseases8, 9.Cold toleranceUnexpected frost can destroy dainty seedlings. An antifreeze gene from cold water fish has been introd uced into plants such as tobacco and potato. With this antifreeze gene, these plants are able to endorse cold temperatures that normally would kill unmodified seedlings10. (Note I have not been able to find any journal articles or patents that involve fish antifreeze proteins in strawberries, although I have seen such reports in newspapers.I can only conclude that nothing on this application has yet been published or patented.) drought tolerance/salinity toleranceAs the world population grows and more land is utilized for housing instead of food production, farmers will need to grow crops in locations previously unsuited for plant cultivation. Creating plants that can withstand foresightful periods of drought or high salt content in soil and groundwater will help people to grow crops in formerly inhospitable places11, 12. NutritionMalnutrition is common in third world countries where poverty-stricken peoples swan on a single crop such as strain for the main staple of their di et.However, rice does not retain adequate amounts of all necessary nutrients to prevent malnutrition. If rice could be genetically engineered to contain additional vitamins and minerals, nutrient deficiencies could be alleviated. For example, blindness due to vitamin A deficiency is a common riddle in third world countries. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Institute for Plant Sciences have created a strain of golden rice containing an unusually high content of beta-carotene (vitamin A)13.Since this rice was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation14, a non-profit organization, the Institute hopes to offer the golden rice seed free to any third world country that requests it. Plans were underway to develop a golden rice that also has increased iron content. However, the generate that funded the creation of these two rice strains was not renewed, perhaps because of the vigorous anti-GM food protesting in Europe, and so this nutritionally-enhanced rice may not c ome to market at all15.PharmaceuticalsMedicines and vaccines often are costly to produce and sometimes require special storage conditions not readily open in third world countries. Researchers are working to develop edible vaccines in tomatoes and potatoes16, 17. These vaccines will be much easier to ship, store and administer than traditional injectable vaccines. PhytoremediationNot all GM plants are grown as crops. Soil and groundwater pollution continues to be a problem in all parts of the world. Plants such as poplar trees have been genetically engineered to plunk up heavy metal pollution from contaminated soil18.How prevalent are GM crops? What plants are involved? According to the FDA and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are over 40 plant varieties that have completed all of the federal requirements for commercialization (http//vm. cfsan. fda. gov/%7Elrd/biocon). Some examples of these plants include tomatoes and cantalopes that have modified ripenin g characteristics, soybeans and sugarbeets that are resistant to herbicides, and corn and cotton plants with increased resistance to insect pests.Not all these products are available in supermarkets yet however, the prevalence of GM foods in U. S. grocery stores is more widespread than is commonly thought. spell there are very, very few genetically-modified whole fruits and vegetables available on produce stands, highly treat foods, such as vegetable oils or breakfast cereals, most likely contain some exact percentage of genetically-modified ingredients because the raw ingredients have been pooled into one processing stream from many different number 1s.Also, the ubiquity of soybean derivatives as food additives in the modern American diet virtually ensures that all U. S. consumers have been heart-to-heart to GM food products. The U. S. statistics that follow are derived from data presented on the USDA web site at http//www. ers. usda. gov/briefing/biotechnology/. The global s tatistics are derived from a brief published by the International operate for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) at http//www. isaaa. org/publications/briefs/Brief_21. htm and from the Biotechnology Industry Organization at http//www. bio.org/foodag/1999Acreage.Thirteen countries grew genetically-engineered crops commercially in 2000, and of these, the U. S. produced the majority. In 2000, 68% of all GM crops were grown by U. S. farmers. In comparison, Argentina, Canada and China produced only 23%, 7% and 1%, respectively. some other countries that grew commercial GM crops in 2000 are Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Mexico, Romania, South Africa, Spain, and Uruguay. Soybeans and corn are the top two most widely grown crops (82% of all GM crops harvested in 2000), with cotton, rapeseed (or canola) and potatoes trailing behind.74% of these GM crops were modified for herbicide tolerance, 19% were modified for insect pest resistance, and 7% were modified for two(prenominal) herbicide tolerance and pest tolerance. Globally, acreage of GM crops has increased 25-fold in just 5 years, from nigh 4. 3 million acres in 1996 to 109 million acres in 2000 almost twice the electron orbit of the United Kingdom. Approximately 99 million acres were devoted to GM crops in the U. S. and Argentina alone. In the U. S. , approximately 54% of all soybeans cultivated in 2000 were genetically-modified, up from 42% in 1998 and only 7% in 1996.In 2000, genetically-modified cotton varieties accounted for 61% of the total cotton crop, up from 42% in 1998, and 15% in 1996. GM corn and also experienced a similar but less spectacular increase. Corn production increased to 25% of all corn grown in 2000, about the comparable as 1998 (26%), but up from 1. 5% in 1996. As anticipated, pesticide and herbicide use on these GM varieties was slashed and, for the most part, yields were increased (for details, see the UDSA publication at http//www. ers. usda. gov/publica tions/aer786/). What are some of the criticisms against GM foods?environmental activists, religious organizations, public interest groups, professional associations and other scientists and government officials have all showd concerns about GM foods, and criticized agribusiness for pursuing profit without concern for potential hazards, and the government for failing to exercise adequate regulatory oversight. It seems that everyone has a strong opinion about GM foods. Even the Vatican19 and the Prince of Wales20 have expressed their opinions. most(prenominal) concerns about GM foods fall into three categories environmental hazards, human health take a chances, and frugal concerns.Environmental hazards unplanned harm to other organismsLast year a laboratory study was published in Nature21 showing that pollen from B. t. corn caused high mortality rates in monarch butterfly caterpillars. Monarch caterpillars consume milkweed plants, not corn, but the fear is that if pollen from B. t. corn is blown by the wind onto milkweed plants in neighboring fields, the caterpillars could eat the pollen and perish. Although the Nature study was not conducted under natural field conditions, the results seemed to support this viewpoint.Unfortunately, B. t. toxins kill many species of insect larvae indiscriminately it is not possible to design a B.t. toxin that would only kill crop-damaging pests and remain harmless to all other insects. This study is being reexamined by the USDA, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other non-government research groups, and prelude data from new studies suggests that the original study may have been blemish22, 23.This topic is the subject of acrimonious debate, and both sides of the argument are defending their data vigorously. Currently, there is no agreement about the results of these studies, and the potential risk of harm to non-target organisms will need to be evaluated further.Reduced effectiveness of pesticidesJust as some populations of mosquitoes veritable resistance to the now-banned pesticide DDT, many people are concerned that insects will become resistant to B. t. or other crops that have been genetically-modified to produce their own pesticides. Gene transfer to non-target speciesAnother concern is that crop plants engineered for herbicide tolerance and weeds will cross-breed, resulting in the transfer of the herbicide resistance genes from the crops into the weeds. These superweeds would then be herbicide tolerant as well.Other introduced genes may cross over into non-modified crops planted next to GM crops. The possibility of interbreeding is shown by the abnegation of farmers against lawsuits filed by Monsanto. The company has filed patent assault lawsuits against farmers who may have harvested GM crops. Monsanto claims that the farmers obtained Monsanto-licensed GM seeds from an unknown source and did not pay royalties to Monsanto. The farmers claim that their unmodified crops were cross-pollinated from someone elses GM crops planted a field or two away.More investigation is needed to resolve this issue. There are several possible solutions to the three problems mentioned above. Genes are exchanged between plants via pollen. Two ways to ensure that non-target species will not receive introduced genes from GM plants are to create GM plants that are male sterile (do not produce pollen) or to switch the GM plant so that the pollen does not contain the introduced gene24, 25, 26. Cross-pollination would not occur, and if harmless insects such as monarch caterpillars were to eat pollen from GM plants, the caterpillars would survive.Another possible solution is to create buffer zones around fields of GM crops27, 28, 29. For example, non-GM corn would be planted to surround a field of B. t. GM corn, and the non-GM corn would not be harvested. Beneficial or harmless insects would have a refuge in the non-GM corn, and insect pests could be allowed to destroy the non-G M corn and would not develop resistance to B. t. pesticides. Gene transfer to weeds and other crops would not occur because the wind-blown pollen would not travel beyond the buffer zone.Estimates of the necessary width of buffer zones range from 6 meters to 30 meters or more30. This planting method may not be feasible if too much acreage is required for the buffer zones. Human health risks Allergenicity Many children in the US and Europe have developed life-threatening allergies to peanuts and other foods. There is a possibility that introducing a gene into a plant may create a new allergen or cause an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals. A proposal to incorporate a gene from Brazil nuts into soybeans was furiousnessed because of the fear of causing unlooked-for allergic reactions31.Extensive testing of GM foods may be required to avoid the possibility of harm to consumers with food allergies. Labeling of GM foods and food products will acquire new importance, which I sha ll discuss later. Unknown effects on human healthThere is a growing concern that introducing foreign genes into food plants may have an unthought and negative impact on human health. A recent article published in lance examined the effects of GM potatoes on the digestive tract in rats32, 33. This study claimed that there were appreciable differences in the intestines of rats fed GM potatoes and rats fed unmodified potatoes.Yet critics say that this paper, like the monarch butterfly data, is flawed and does not hold up to scientific scrutiny34. Moreover, the gene introduced into the potatoes was a snowdrop flower lectin, a warmheartedness known to be toxic to mammals. The scientists who created this variety of potato chose to use the lectin gene simply to test the methodology, and these potatoes were never intended for human or animal consumption. On the whole, with the exception of possible allergenicity, scientists believe that GM foods do not present a risk to human health.Econ omic concerns Bringing a GM food to market is a lengthy and costly process, and of course agri-biotech companies wish to ensure a profitable elapse on their investment. Many new plant genetic engineering technologies and GM plants have been patented, and patent infringement is a big concern of agribusiness. Yet consumer advocates are worried that patenting these new plant varieties will raise the price of seeds so high that small farmers and third world countries will not be able to afford seeds for GM crops, thus widening the gap between the wealthy and the poor.It is hoped that in a add-on gesture, more companies and non-profits will follow the lead of the Rockefeller Foundation and offer their products at reduced cost to impoverished nations. Patent enforcement may also be difficult, as the contention of the farmers that they involuntarily grew Monsanto-engineered strains when their crops were cross-pollinated shows. One way to besiege possible patent infringement is to introd uce a suicide gene into GM plants. These plants would be workable for only one growing season and would produce sterile seeds that do not germinate.Farmers would need to debauch a fresh supply of seeds each year. However, this would be financially disastrous for farmers in third world countries who cannot afford to buy seed each year and traditionally set aside a dower of their harvest to plant in the next growing season. In an open letter to the public, Monsanto has pledged to abandon all research using this suicide gene technology35. How are GM foods regulated and what is the governments role in this process? Governments around the world are hard at work to establish a regulatory process to monitor the effects of and approve new varieties of GM plants.Yet depending on the political, social and economic climate within a region or country, different governments are responding in different ways. In Japan, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has announced that health testing of GM fo ods will be mandatory as of April 200136, 37. Currently, testing of GM foods is voluntary. Japanese supermarkets are offering both GM foods and unmodified foods, and customers are beginning to show a strong preference for unmodified fruits and vegetables.Indias government has not yet announced a policy on GM foods because no GM crops are grown in India and no products are commercially available in supermarkets yet38. India is, however, very supportive of transgenic plant research. It is highly likely that India will settle down that the benefits of GM foods outweigh the risks because Indian agriculture will need to adopt drastic new measures to check the countrys endemic poverty and feed its exploding population.Some states in Brazil have banned GM crops entirely, and the Brazilian Institute for the Defense of Consumers, in collaboration with Greenpeace, has filed suit to prevent the importation of GM crops39,. Brazilian farmers, however, have resorted to smuggling GM soybean seed s into the country because they fear economic harm if they are unable to deal in the global marketplace with other grain-exporting countries.