Genetically Modified Foods
Genetically modified foods production relies on combining genes of non-related species together, presenting a whole host of potential risks to human health, environment, and agriculture. The technology, introduced by the global market companies, is capable of breaking down natural genetic barriers between species, animals, and plants. The altered organisms pass these changes to their offsprings. These experiments are carried out with no appropriate concern for the human health, environmental threats, and socio-economic outcomes. Thus, the potential hazard of genetically modified foods can be subsumed under three categories: the impact on human health, environmental damage, and socio-economic threats (Genetically Engineered Foods). Therefore, people deserve to be aware of such threats and make their choices concerning the products they consume. Given the fact that genetically modified foods are known to be harmful, global biotechnology companies should be forced to label products that contain such ingredients, or remove them from the shelves of the markets.
The most vivid and debated concern in relation to genetically modified foods is connected with human health. The reason for these concerns is the fact that genetically engineered products have a high potential to be toxic and poisonous to a human body. In 1989, genetically engineered form of L-tryptophan killed thirty-seven Americans and inflicted 5,000 people with blood disorders and eosinophilia myalgia syndrome. Another potential debilitating threat was detected in the late 1990s by Arpad Pusztai, a molecular biologist from Rowett Research Institute in Scotland. Pusztai conducted feeding experiments on rats and detected that genetically engineered potatoes damaged their gut and immune system. Another major health concern is connected with rBGH risks. The latter is a genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone, which makes cows much more susceptible to diseases, infections, and infertility. When cows are injected with this hormone, it stimulates their growth; however, it may also stimulate cancer by creating another hormone, IGF-1. There exists a risk of the latter being absorbed into the human body with milk, leading to developing cancer. The injection of rBGH has been banned in Canada and European Union due to the given health risks (Genetically Engineered Foods).
In 2002, British scientists proved that genetically engineered foods can transfer GE gene to human gut bacteria. Such transfer can potentially give a stimulus to new viruses and bacteria that, in turn, can lead to provoking a number of diseases. Most of them are connected with an antibiotic-resistant marker gene inserted into genetically modified crop. Antibiotic resistance can be transferred from such crops to humans and animals (Roseboro 28).
All the examples mentioned above can serve as a solid answer to those who claim that GM products are similar in their nutritious value to those created naturally. The Food and Drug Administration concluded that foods created genetically may not be labeled if deemed substantially equivalent to non-trans-genetically created products. Quite often, the evaluation is performed by the product manufacturers themselves (Genetically Engineered Foods). Scientists have long been fighting to prove that potential health risks that can be activated range from reduced nutrition in GE soybeans to the development of antibiotic resistance of the human body. If companies want to prove that the application of the concept of Substantial Equivalence took place and resulted in identification of no potential differences between the GM foods and their counterparts, labeling is the best way to demonstrate it. The customer deserves for such comprehensive comparative safety assessments to be implemented and indicated on a label.
Some will argue that genes that acted without complications in one plant and tested without evident negative outcomes will be safe after being transferred genetically to another plant (Weirich 201). However, because the process of genetic modification is so unpredictable and under-researched, gene slicing will inevitably result in unanticipated consequences and dangerous outcomes. The risks are intensified by the fact that not all human organisms are the same; for example, people have unique histories of the same disease. Therefore, mandatory labeling is especially necessary so that people suffering from food allergies could avert risks of GE foods, and public health officials were able to trace allergens to their source in case GE fosters food allergies epidemic (Genetically Engineered Foods). People deserve to know that their health integrity is endangered whenever they consume products which contain genetically modified foods. They should be aware of the ingredients of the products they take from the store shelves. Therefore, labeling requirements should be enforced among the biotechnological companies in order to give people the freedom of choice. Otherwise, such products should be removed from the global market altogether.
Another adverse impact of GE foods has everything to do with its harm inflicted on the environment. It has been proved by scientists all over the world, and people, who appear to be ardent proponents of protecting the environment, deserve to know whether the produce they purchase contributes to the adverse impact on the state of things. Labeling will determine the decision of many consumers, depending on their tolerance in the domain of environmental protection. Genes inserted into the DNA of organisms can act quite unpredictably and cause surprising changes within the structure of the very organism, whether it is a plant, or an animal. Genes that are meant to increase resistance to viruses and bacteria often have a reverse effect. In 1996, farmers in Italy experienced an abrupt loss of tomato crops that have been injected with a genetically launched virus to resist diseases. This led to mutation, development of lethal necrosis, and the death of tissue cells in the structure of plants. When established outside agricultural areas, genetically modified plants with advantageous genes can outrun other species deprived of such genes by nature. The artificially favored species are also capable of inflicting damage on the environment by spreading their genes to the species closely related to them. It becomes a vicious circle, in which, even the smallest insects can carry modified genes to other plants with pollen. This is how natural habitats can be adversely affected (Forman 52-55). In addition, biotechnological companies encourage the growth of herbicide-resistant crops. Scientists have estimated that, when planted around the globe, these crops have the potential to triple the amount of toxic herbicides used in the sphere of agriculture. Such broad-spectrum herbicides are potential killers of everything green on earth (Genetically Engineered Foods).
With the help of congressional earmarks and business interest, global biotechnological companies use genetic engineering in order to conquer and monopolize the global market for such produce as seeds, fiber, foods, and medical products (Genetically Engineered Foods). At the same time, the process of global adoption of GE products has started. World agriculture is facing enormous challenges. Labeling the produce with genetically modified foods might influence the decision of people in a perpetual controversy of whether they want to contribute to a massive globalization of modified products, or create new opportunities for non-GE foods markets and organic agriculture development. On the other hand, some scientists consider that genetically engineered foods can help establishing food security in the world. The latter refers to such an event when all people have physical access to sufficient and healthy food for. The activities of biotechnological companies might be disguised behind the slogans of good intentions to make agriculture sustainable, put an end to world hunger, cure diseases, improve public health both locally and internationally, and reach food security. However, another major condition for achieving global food security is that the foods people have access to are nutritious, safe, and meet dietary needs and food preferences of people (Qaim 29-50). Some comprehensive research results prove that genetically modified products do not appear to be completely healthy; instead, their impact is fully unpredictable (Roseboro 28).
The products people consume might soon become one of the biggest dangers of all, given the fact that genetic engineering has come to occupy a crucial role in the global food market. Product labeling with respect to environmental information and health provision should necessarily be used in order to provide customers with information about product characteristics. Genetically engineered foods labeling should be summoned by the desire for safety- and health-related information, which is widely shared among people in the society. Supporters of healthy way of life and nutritious food consumption, opponents of globalization and purveyors of organic food markets, people who are concerned with the state of environment and preservation of natural habitats – all of them deserve to have a choice and decide what future they want their children to have. Therefore, biotechnological companies should be given only two options. They can conform to the enforcement of labeling requirements, provide customers with solid information on the nutritious value and potential risks, prove that the manufactured produce is substantially equivalent to its organic counterpart, or remove the products that contain genetically modified foods from the shelves altogether.