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:

 

Alcohol and cancer: This is how booze damages DNA inside cells - Cancer Research UK (blog)

Cancer Research UK (blog)

Alcohol and cancer: This is how booze damages DNA inside cells
Cancer Research UK (blog)
To do this, they used lab-based genetic engineering to create mice whose blood stem cells didn't produce the enzyme ALDH2, meaning they couldn't break down acetaldehyde. They then gave these mice diluted ethanol, the purest form of alcohol, and used .
Alcohol and endogenous aldehydes damage chromosomes and mutate stem cells | NatureNature
New research shows how alcohol damages DNA and increases cancer riskCancer Research UK
Alcohol Use and Cancer - American Cancer SocietyAmerican Cancer Society
NCBI - NIH
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Pakistani database to help deal with genetic disorders - SciDev.Net

SciDev.Net

Pakistani database to help deal with genetic disorders
SciDev.Net
[ISLAMABAD] Pakistan, a country with a high rate of marriages among close relatives, has taken a step towards dealing with inherited disorders by establishing a genetic mutation database, or mutome, that the developers say will help provide genetic .

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Engineers Create Plants That Glow - Big Think (blog)

Big Think (blog)

Engineers Create Plants That Glow
Big Think (blog)
Previous efforts to create light-emitting plants have relied on genetically engineering plants to express the gene for luciferase, but this is a laborious process that yields extremely dim light. Those studies were performed on tobacco plants and .

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Gene therapy offers long-term treatment for mice with diabetes - LA . - Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

Gene therapy offers long-term treatment for mice with diabetes - LA .
Los Angeles Times
A single infusion of a virus containing two hand-picked genes restored normal blood sugar levels in mice with Type 1 diabetes for four months. The equivalent improvement in humans could last for several years.

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Scientists engineer sound-reflecting bacteria - Cosmos

Cosmos

Scientists engineer sound-reflecting bacteria
Cosmos
Scientists at the California Institute of Technology in the US have genetically engineered bacteria capable of sending sonar signals from deep within the human body. The modified Escherichia coli contain genes from two other species of bacteria .

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Gene therapy offers long-term treatment for mice with diabetes - Fairfield Daily Republic

Gene therapy offers long-term treatment for mice with diabetes
Fairfield Daily Republic
The newly resurgent field of gene therapy, which recently produced treatments for blood cancers and blindness, has taken a step toward fighting a scourge that is on the rise worldwide: diabetes. In research reported last week in the journal Cell Stem .

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Scientists Grow 3D Hairy Mouse Skin without Using Embryonic Tissue - Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Scientists Grow 3D Hairy Mouse Skin without Using Embryonic Tissue
Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News
The hairy skin more closely resembles natural mouse skin than existing lab-grown tissue that is constructed by piecing together different cell types. The Indiana University School of Medicine researchers suggest that if hair-growing human skin can be .

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