Is The Genetic Engineering Of Food Safe And Healthy?

Genetic engineering of food has the potential to change forever the way the world's population is fed, bringing increased food yields from the same crops and the same land, while at the same time lessening the need for artificial chemicals such as fertilizers and insecticides. The most common and longest established genetic modification technology is that which pertains to plant foods, which are already sold in many countries as of routine. The genetic engineering of animal products is considerably more difficult to achieve, but it is being done at the present time, and there is no doubt that commercially available products will be seen very soon.

There is also no doubt that genetic engineering is one of the most controversial scientific advances in history, as the potential for good is matched by an equally significant potential for difficulty and unforeseen consequences. There are still gaps in the scientific understanding of DNA, which is the building block used by scientists to facilitate genetic modification, and it is impossible to predict the long term effects of taking modified food into the body. The spread of genetically altered plants without prior intention is also something which is difficult to control, and this could have far reaching effects.

There are effectively three generations of the genetic modification of plant food, with the first of those being the simplest to understand and to carry out. As modern agriculture has developed, there has been an increasing need to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides to make sure that crops are healthy, and are not savaged by insect pests. These chemicals are themselves controversial, as it is impossible to measure the damage which they do when they are ingested into the body. If new strains of resistant crops can be developed, waste and damage could be greatly reduced.

types of genetic engineering

The next dimension for genetic engineering of food is to improve the yield still further by improving the resistance to natural phenomena which can be highly destructive. There are many climates in the United States and throughout the world which are potentially threatening to plant life, as they are somewhat unpredictable. It is possible for a temperature far colder than average to be threatening to crops, and resistant strains of crops could help to guard against that. It is also possible to produce plants which need less water, and which are consequently far less at risk from drought.

There is another dimension which goes beyond this, albeit in a vastly different way. The third generation of genetic modification uses plants to grow and propagate drugs and vaccines, which are then far more freely available to treat medical conditions. There is no attempt here to increase the yield of the crop, or to produce more food, the sole focus is on using the plant to achieve other objectives. This is, surprisingly, one of the less controversial ways of using genetic engineering, because it does not actually alter the substance which is being developed. The drugs will be of the same structure as other drugs of the same type.

genetic engineering

The benefits of this genetic engineering of food are manifold and potentially far reaching. It is possible that the same land which produces a certain amount of food can be made to produce far more, and that what is produced can be protected to a large extent from disease and waste. This will lessen the number of years where a truly awful yield will mean shortages and increasing prices, and it can also mean that more people throughout the world are adequately fed. Political changes will obviously be necessary to facilitate this, but it is certainly possible.

Despite these considerations, there are many people who are seriously uncertain as to whether pursuing genetic engineering is a good idea. Not enough is yet known about DNA to be able to accurately predict the effects of the long term ingestion of altered food on the human body, and this is only the first of the potential problems. The spreading of altered genes throughout the plant world is something which cannot be accurately predicted or controlled, so there is every possibility that genetically modified crops could spread in uncontrolled ways.

Opposing opinions on the genetic engineering of food are vehemently held by either side, each believing totally that they are right. If you want to form your own opinion, you will need to carry out some research. There are very few truly independent or impartial websites, so you will need to read biased viewpoints from either side to gain a balanced overview. Once you have done this, and obtained significant knowledge of the facts involved, you will be able to form your own opinion. There is still much which cannot be predicted and which is completely unknown, so there cannot be a definitive answer concerning genetic engineering of food.

 

 

 

Genetic Engineering News:

 

Leather grown using biotechnology is about to hit the catwalk - The Economist

The Economist

Leather grown using biotechnology is about to hit the catwalk
The Economist
To produce its leather, Modern Meadow begins with a strain of yeast that has been genetically engineered to make a protein identical to bovine collagen. Collagen is the principal structural protein in animal bodies. In particular, it gives strength and .

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New types of therapy mean cancer is going to become ever more survivable - The Economist

The Economist

New types of therapy mean cancer is going to become ever more survivable
The Economist
New research tools, such as easily generated antibodies, rapid gene sequencing and ever easier genetic engineering, have revolutionised biologists' understanding of cancer. This understanding has allowed more specific approaches to the disease to be .

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FDA Approves First Gene-Altering Leukemia Treatment, Costing $475000 - New York Times

New York Times

FDA Approves First Gene-Altering Leukemia Treatment, Costing $475000
New York Times
The therapy, marketed as Kymriah and made by Novartis, was approved for children and young adults for an aggressive type of leukemia EUR” B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia EUR” that has resisted standard treatment or relapsed. . To customize Kymriah .
FDA approval brings first gene therapy to the United StatesFDA.gov
Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treatment (PDQ)EUR”Patient Version - National Cancer InstituteNational Cancer Institute

all 656 news articles »
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Around the web: Concerns with human genetic engineering, Gary Cohn on tax reform, and more - American Enterprise Institute

Around the web: Concerns with human genetic engineering, Gary Cohn on tax reform, and more
American Enterprise Institute
Since then, she's been meeting with stakeholdersEUR•unions and business types and the likeEUR•about how San Francisco, and California, might explore such a thing. Among the issues with a robot tax: What is a robot? Even roboticists have a hard time agreeing.

and more »
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CRISPR Therapeutics, MGH Partner to Develop T-Cell Cancer Therapies - Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

CRISPR Therapeutics, MGH Partner to Develop T-Cell Cancer Therapies
Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News
EURœWe have already seen the profound benefit that T-cell therapies can have for certain patients with a specific set of tumor types. Now the potential with gene editing, and specifically CRISPR/Cas9, exists to create improved versions of these cells that .

and more »
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The Drive for Perfect Children Gets a Little Scary - Bloomberg

Bloomberg

The Drive for Perfect Children Gets a Little Scary
Bloomberg
Sometimes you hear it argued that the complex nature of genes will prevent major feats of genetic engineering. That may be selling short future advances in Big Data and biomedicine, but even minor changes in genetic diagnosis and selection could have .

and more »
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New Device Claimed to Heal in One Touch - Industry Daily News (press release) (blog)

Industry Daily News (press release) (blog)

New Device Claimed to Heal in One Touch
Industry Daily News (press release) (blog)
U.S. scientists have recently managed to produce a type of mesenchymal stem cell, using genetic engineering. The new types of stem cells are currently able to identify as well as target the stiffer tumors in or on a human body. Mechanoresponsive cell .

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The drive for the perfect offspring can get scary - Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune

The drive for the perfect offspring can get scary
Chicago Tribune
Sometimes you hear it argued that the complex nature of genes will prevent major feats of genetic engineering. That may be selling short future advances in Big Data and biomedicine, but even minor changes in genetic diagnosis and selection could have .

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