Saturday, October 1, 2011

geneticly altered food

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Is genetically altered food safe? In my opinion the answer is no and it is the topic for this essay. As you read this material I hope I can make it clearer of why I share this opinion. We will be coving many areas such as the process of creating genetically altered foods and the unsafe affects that it could have on humans and our environment.

First of all, genetically altered food is food that has been genetically designed by scientists to be able to withstand certain conditions so it will reach full maturity. For example, there are two common forms of genetic alteration of food crops. In the first, used frequently with soy, the plant is modified in order to be resistant to the Monsanto herbicide Roundup TM so that farmers can apply it to kill weeds without killing the young soy seedling. In the second, often used with corn, the plant is modified to contain within its genetic structure a pesticide called BT (Bacillus thuringiensis). Approximately 50% of all the soy and 8% of the corn acreage planted in the US this year is genetically altered. In addition, much of the canola oil in the US market is from genetically altered plants.

In the research that I conducted I found that there can be some serious health risks associated with genetically altered foods. For example, by altering the genetic composition of the genetic structure of an organism this process introduces new proteins into the human and animal food chains. This means that human beings are now consuming products that have never before been considered foodstuffs. There is concern that these new proteins could potentially cause toxic or allergic reactions, or other health effects. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to predict the allergenic potential of GA foods since allergic reactions typically occur only after the individual consuming the food is sensitized by initial exposure to the allergen. There has already been at least one known health disaster regarding genetically altered products. In 18 the Japanese company Showa Denko marketed a GA version of the supplement L-tryptophan. After the release an estimated 5000 people suffered from an outbreak of Eosinophilia Myalgia Syndrome (EMS). It was initially reported that 7 people died, and 1500 were left with permanent disabilities. Also, the actual process of genetic alteration itself may cause damage to the mammalian digestive and immune systems. A recent study found that rats fed transgenic potatoes (artificially bioengineered to include a gene from another species) showed evidence of organ damage, thickening of the small intestine, and poor brain development.

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So far I talked about the health issues associated with GA foods but it is also important to realize the environmental risks as well. One of the most frightening aspects of the increasing acreage given over to GA crops is that the pollen from these plants can travel miles from their host via wind and insects and fertilize other non-GA crops or related weed species growing nearby. This has already happened with canola and sugar beet, creating the potential for super weeds. Furthermore, the genes inserted by the alteration process are more biologically vigorous and may be up to 0 times more likely to escape than the plants own genes. We have already seen this process take place with disastrous results with other exotic and invasive species such as kudzu in the south, zebra mussels in our waterways, etc. Even organic food is threatened. Some 87,000 bags of organic corn chips manufactured by Wisconsin-based Terra Prima had to be destroyed when a Dutch importer discovered genetic contamination that had apparently blown over via pollen from a nearby GA plot in Texas where the corn was grown.

In some of the most publicized American research to date, Cornell University scientists reported recently that 44% of monarch butterfly larvae died within four days when fed milkweed that had been dusted with pollen from GA corn, while all the caterpillars fed normal corn pollen survived. These are only a few of the concerns associated with GA foods.

As you can see, I have many reasons to support my opinion that GA foods are not all that safe. Some people have already died because of a connection to GA foods; they must be more thoroughly tests before they become a regular part of our diet.

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