Due to an increasing number of companies making use of genetic engineering, many now claim that there are a number of advantages to the use of genetic engineering. Many also claim that genetic engineering can be considered as one of the great solutions to the problem of food shortages across the globe. GMO companies claim that one of the advantages of genetic engineering is that with this technology, farmers’ yields can be increased as compared to ordinary farming methods. They also claim that with this technology, they are able to reinvent food in order to meet the nutritional needs of many individuals, especially in developing countries.
Claims Of GMO Advantages Questionable?
How true is it that there are many GMO advantages as compared to the disadvantages? The use of genetic engineering helps in increasing crop production by making crops more resistant to pests and other environmental factors that may cause their destruction.
While this is true, scientists have already shown the other effects that GMOs may pose concerning crop resistance. Resistance against environmental conditions and pests enables the crop to resist almost all conditions in such a manner that they may start acting as weeds. Resistant crops may grow anywhere, even in areas where they are not needed. Besides this, cross pollination may lead to resistance in other kinds of plants, trees and even weeds as well which may cause an environmental imbalance.
The Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt toxin is the gene in plants that makes them resistant to pests and is the one being used in genetically modified crops. The constant use of this gene, however, may lead to a developed resistance in the future thus rendering crops open to other types of pests in the future.
Genetic engineering is used in modifying the nutritional value of certain types of food in order to meet the nutritional needs of different individuals, especially in developing countries.
This could be very helpful indeed in terms of health. Added vitamin A and iron, for example, is now seen in golden rice, which is a type of genetically engineered rice. However, modifying genes in food means that there is a possibility of introducing allergens into the modified food causing new forms of allergies in individuals as well. Viruses are used as carriers in transferring genes from one plant to another leading to the development of new diseases and modification of viruses in the future.
Why GMO Health Risks Can Affect Even You
The primary concern of many scientists and health professionals is the introduction of new allergens caused by the transfer of genes in genetically modified food. One more concern is the increased risk of cancer, as in the case of milk from cows pumped up with hormones for increased milk production. The introduction of newer forms of viruses as well as increased antibiotic resistance due to antibiotic resistant genes in GMO food is also a GMO health risk, which may affect many individuals in the future.
Genetic engineering may have its own advantages but these should be weighed against the many disadvantages that pose a serious threat to many of us. The problems that may beset us in the future due to genetic engineering may end up giving us more problems than the benefits that we see in the short term.